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Phones

Asus AiGuru SV1: Skype video phone

Asus has produced the E-m@iler for the 21st century: a standalone Skype video phone that costs too much and doesn't do enough

The Asus AiGuru SV1 videophone is about to hit the UK and help pasty-faced Brits video-call their tanned expat friends over Skype. It's a standalone system with a 640x480-pixel camera and a 7-inch screen, which works via an Ethernet cable or Wi-Fi connection and even comes with a battery so you can carry it around the house. For the pleasure of owning a AiGuru you'll need to cough up about £220. Confused? Join the club, we've had hats made.

What you've essentially got here is a one-trick pony that lets you make Skype video calls, which is useful, but are we missing something? For £220 you can buy a netbook with a built-in webcam that also has Wi-Fi and also lets you make Skype video calls around your house. And it's a computer as well. So why on Earth would you buy this instead?

It reminds us a little too much of the Amstrad E-m@iler, a device with good intentions, but no discernible reason for existing. You could argue the AiGuru SV1 would be a good solution for someone who doesn't want to fiddle around with a laptop -- it might make things quicker. We could imagine buying one for an elderly relative -- pretty much the only people who had E-m@ilers -- but how often will they use video calling?

Not only is the SV1 very limited, but it's far too expensive. If it cost around £80, we could see it finding a niche market, but at £220 you're clearly much better off with a netbook. There's more at the Skype Web site.