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Say hello to TelyHD, an Android-based Skype video phone for your TV

Tely Labs has started shipping its $249 TelyHD Skype video-conferencing package for HDTV owners.

The $249 TelyHD, which attaches to the top of your TV, runs on Android and includes a skinned version of Skype. TelyHD

In advance of CES, the folks from Tely Labs recently came by our offices in New York to demo the fledgling company's new $249 consumer video-conferencing solution for TVs--the TelyHD--that combines an Android-based HD video camera with a heavily skinned version of Skype.

Some TVs already offer Skype video-chatting capabilities via integrated cameras, but TelyHD is one of a few options arriving this year that will allow you to add a higher-quality HD camera with built-in Skype functionality.

The TelyHD runs a heavily skinned version of Skype. David Carnoy/CNET

From what we saw from the demo, we were impressed by the overall experience. We did a test call back to the company's offices in Menlo Park, Calif., and the interface seems slick and basically builds upon and enhances existing Skype features (it's free to sign up for Skype and if you already have an account, you sign in and you're good to go). You can, for instance, leave video messages for people on your contact list and share photos as you're talking to someone (there's a USB slot for thumbdrives as well as an SD card slot).

You can share photos from an SD card or thumbdrive while you video chat. David Carnoy/CNET

Because TelyHD runs on Android 2.2 (Froyo) and has good processing power thanks to a Tegra 2 Dual-Core ARM A9 processor from Nvidia, the company has plans to add additional functionality to the device and will be rolling out apps or "channels" that allow you to access additional content, much like a Roku box.

Here's a look at some of the highlights:

  • Allows users to make HD video calls from their living room (or wherever their TV is) either to anyone with a Skype account or to another TelyHD user.
  • Works with the free version of Skype and does not require a computer, a subscription, or any additional devices.
  • The company says that in the near future, consumers will be able to use TelyHD for a variety of other home entertainment activities, from social networking and gaming to video streaming and more.
  • Runs on Android OS 2.2 (Froyo) and uses the Tegra 2 Dual-Core ARM A9 processor from Nvidia.
  • The system costs $249 and includes a wide-angle HD camera, microphone array with noise cancellation, built-in WiFi and Ethernet connectivity, and all necessary cables (an HDMI cable is included for connecting the unit to your HDTV).
  • A small remote is included as well.
In the future, the company will add additional apps and "channels" such as the ones shown above. David Carnoy/CNET

While the TelyHD offers HD resolution, image quality will vary according to your Internet connection, and though we thought the video quality was good, you shouldn't expect to get the same kind of very sharp, nicely saturated picture you get while watching HD programming on your TV. However, we'll reserve final judgment until after we test the shipping product later this month.

Tely Labs will be showing off the TelyHD at CES, but it is available now for purchase.