Comcast Skype on Xfinity $9.95/month - Lame or Cool?

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Randy Savicky
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Comcast Skype on Xfinity $9.95/month - Lame or Cool?

comcast-xfinity-skype.jpg
Comcast today unveiled their Skype video calling service, Skype on Xfinity which directly integrates into your HDTV. The beauty of the system is you can make and receive Skype video and audio calls from your TV. Users can send instant messages via Skype, while watching TV at the same time.

The only problem is Skype on Xfinity costs $9.95 a month extra. We saw what happened to the $599 Cisco Umi, which Rich Tehrani and I rightly predicted would fail. Rich also pointed to Panasonic's Blu-ray Skype-enabled players as another reason why Cisco Umi would fail. Well, the $10/month premium is likely to pay for the "free" adaptor box, HD camera, and remote they send you. Yeah, that's right you need a separate adaptor box - it's not integrated into Comcast's cable box. As if my home entertainment setup wasn't a spaghetti mess of various devices and cables smiley-cry

xfiniity-front-box.png

I suppose $10/month is better than Umi's $599 pricetag and the integrated experience of Skype directly while watching TV is pretty cool.

Here's the rear of the adaptor box showing the connections:
xfinity-rear-box.png

The service is now available in Boston and Seattle. It will roll out in eight additional markets by the end of the week, including Atlanta and Augusta, Ga., Chicago, Detroit, Harrisburg, Pa., Indianapolis, Miami, and Pittsburgh. Additional markets are coming this summer.

It includes a remote control with a full QWERTY keyboard for typing Skype IMs and making calls as seen here:
xfinity-rear-remote.png

Here's the front of the remote:
xfinity-remote-front.png

Features of the HD camera:
• High-Definition camera supports up to 720p @30 frames per second (requires both users to have
consistent 1.5Mbps+ upload/download speeds)
• On/Off Indicator
• Digital/Optical Zoom Lens With Shutter
• Built-In Directional Microphones
• Adjustable Clip for Secure Placement

xfinity-camera.png

I'm still skeptical customers are willing to shell out $9.95/month just to have Skype on their TV. I have my Windows 7 Dell Zino hooked up to my HDTV over HDMI for free. That along with a wireless keyboard and mouse and I can Skype on my HDTV for free. Granted, I have to have my TV on PC input mode, so I cannot watch TV simultaneously. That is until I purchase a TV tuner card for the Zino! Take that Comcast!dancing

Lastly, check out their video promo:



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