Over the past year or so, Skype has been appearing on TVs with greater frequency, making all non-Skype TV households feel inadequate.
But now you won’t have to rush out and buy a new flat panel TV just so you can make video calls from your living room to friends in Portugal. Comcast has announced a new partnership with Skype that only requires customers to get a new set-top-box.
According to a Comcast release, users will be able to make Skype video calls while watching another program, and make or receive calls via mobile devices like smart phones and tablets.
The required adapter box is in addition to a customer’s high definition set-top-box. Included with the adapter box will be a USB camera and a remote which Comcast says will make entering text onscreen easy. We assume this means that the remote includes a QUERTY keypad, like certain Samsung and Vizio TVs ship with.
Users will be able to import contacts from various address books including Facebook, Outlook and Gmail.
Comcast is starting customer trials this month, with no details on when a nationwide rollout may begin. Also not mentioned was any fee for either the service or rental of the adapter box.
In other Comcast news, Brian Roberts, Comcast CEO, announced today a few more upgrades being launched currently in Augusta, GA, but eventually nationwide:
• Fast, intuitive search that lets users find what they want to watch in seconds from thousands of choices on TV, On Demand, on their DVR, or from a selection of additional content.
• A more personalized TV experience called MyTV® where users can see and access all of their recordings, favorites and recommendations in one place that reflects their interests, favorite series, sports teams, movies and music.
• Interactive apps that are easy to access and enhanced for TV, like traffic and weather, and social apps like Facebook® that let users share and discover what to watch with their friends
The new Skype service from Comcast will allow users to make and receive Skype calls on mobile devices in addition to their TV sets.
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Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. He's also the author of the book The Trouble with Rivers
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.