The imagined inventions of Victorian-era French novelist Albert Robida may be coming closer to reality.
Who, you ask? Robida was an illustrator and writer for popular science-fiction magazines, and is sometimes compared to Jules Verne. In his 1890 novel "Le Vingtieme siecle. La vie electrique," he described something called a "telephonoscope." Since then, we've seen telephonoscopes--basically videophones--in everything from "The Jetsons" to "Blade Runner." What we haven't seen is the videophone in our living rooms.
That may finally be changing.
The common use of videophones could happen through three technologies that separately aren't exactly considered bleeding edge today: high-speed Internet, a television, and Skype. Samsung says it will put the VoIP calling service Skype as an application on its televisions, allowing phone calls to be made on camera right from a couch, just like Jane Jetson talking into her TV set. The Samsung Skype-enabled TV follows similar announcements from Panasonic and LG at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.
The models will range from to $1,200 to $2,000 for Panasonic's set. Samsung and LG have not yet announced how much they will charge.
The Skype on TV application should work similarly on all three models, which in turn should closely mimic the version of the application that many people use to make free PC to PC calls, or for a fee, PC to landline. Skype accounts are free to set up and can be activated using the TV's remote control right on the screen. The video calls will also be free, as will voice calls between Skype users. Using Skype to call traditional landline and mobile phones is a few cents per minute. Calls can be answered while watching a program, but it's not yet possible to both talk and continue to watch uninterrupted.
By the time these models actually hit stores in late spring there should be three TV makers offering Skype on their TVs. And not just any three TV makers, but the world's largest overall (Samsung sells practically one of every five TVs sold), the leader in plasmas (Panasonic), and LG, which is close behind Samsung, selling 15 percent of all TVs. … Read more
The ability to make and receive voice and video calls on your living room TV via Skype will now be offered by Samsung. A press release by the two companies announced Skype availability on two 2010 Samsung TV series, the UNC7000 and UNC8000. The 7000 series is available now, and the least-expensive model is the 40-incher for a hefty $2,000.
At CES in January, Panasonic and LG also announced optional Skype capability on a number of 2010 series, and both companies will likely charge less for the privilege. Panasonic's least expensive will be the 42-inch member of the G25 series (officially $1,199; March), whereas we believe LG's will be the LD550 series (March, price undetermined, but available in sizes down to 32 inches as far as we know).
LG looks to be building up its 3D and big-screen TV line-ups for the spring 2010 season.
CNET has seen what's purported to be the spring 2010 product roadmap for LG's TV and home theater line. To date, LG hasn't outlined any exact release dates beyond its CES announcements, and to my knowledge didn't plan to do so for at least another month or so. (Panasonic has provided more specifics on its 2010 line-up, and new Samsung's products are beginning to pop up at online retailers.)
In addition to current LG models, the roadmap contains … Read more
Global sales of mobile phones dipped slightly in 2009 overall but did stage a fourth-quarter recovery, according to new figures from Gartner.
Last year, consumers worldwide bought 1.21 billion cell phones, a 0.9 percent decline from the prior year. However, a surge in smartphones from the likes of Apple and Research In Motion and in low-end devices boosted fourth-quarter sales to 340 million units, an 8.3 percent gain over the fourth quarter of 2008, the market researcher said Tuesday.
Selling prices also took a hit last year. Intense competition forced cell phone manufacturers to keep prices low, … Read more
As we told you a few days ago, LG played it cool at Mobile World Congress. Rather than operate a booth on the show floor, it just held an "Open House" event in the sleek Mies van der Rohe Pavillion adjacent to the Fira de Barcelona. The Google Android-powered LG GT540 was the star attraction and I snapped some photos for your perusal. I wanted to get video of the smartphone as well, but CNET's TV's Ariel Nunez was off chasing HTC with Bonnie Cha so I pulled out my admittedly dated Kodak V570 (my other … Read more
Nearly a year after its debut in Barcelona, LG has finally brought the LG Arena to the United States. The touch-screen handset will be offered by AT&T and is packing AT&T Mobile TV, which would look mighty fine on the 3-inch WVGA display.
The Arena will feature a cool 3D user interface called S-Class, as well as goodies like a 5-megapixel camera, Wi-Fi, GPS, 3G with support for 7.2 HSPA, 8GB internal memory, and a microSD card slot expandable up to 40GB. No, it's not a smartphone, so the $199 price does hurt a … Read more
The LG EL9500 OLED TV, which is reportedly selling for around $2,500 in Korea, will be heading for the U.S. around the middle of this year. This makes it the largest commercially available OLED TV on sale in the States besides the Sony XEL-1, which is being withdrawn from the Japanese market due to weak demand.
The newer 15-inch EL9500 is not only bigger than the XEL-1 in terms of screen size; it also packs a higher 1,366x768 resolution, which qualifies this Korean panel as an HD-ready TV. Other notable goodies include a fast 100Hz refresh rate … Read more
BARCELONA, Spain--You might say that LG had a quiet Mobile World Congress--it didn't announce new handsets and it didn't have a presence on the show floor--but the manufacturer didn't skip Barcelona entirely. In the modern setting of Barcelona's Mies van der Rohe Pavilion, the company showed two handsets, the Mini GD880 and the Google-Android powered GT540.
The Mini GD880 takes minimalism to an extreme. Sharp and angles and straight lines predominate and the bright 3.2-inch display takes almost the whole phone. Features include a 5-megapixel camera, e-mail, integration with social networking services, a full … Read more
You won't see it at Mobile World Congress, but Verizon Wireless added the LG Accolade to its lineup this week. The very middle of the road, the Accolade has a standard flip-phone design and a modest feature set.
Inside you'll find a 1.3-megapixel camera, text and multimedia messaging, Bluetooth, speaker-independent voice commands, a personal organizer, a 1,000-contact phone book, a speakerphone, support for VZ Navigator, and Web-based e-mail
The Accolade is $69.99 with a two-year contract, but an online discount will knock it down to $19.99.