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BT Videophone: Here we go again

BT once again attempts to fulfil a market that doesn't actually exist with its magnificently expensive videophones

Like the promise of a robot in every home, the idea of the videophone is nothing new. Since the dawn of phones, we have been told that one day they would deliver us pictures of the people we were speaking to. We've been told it's the natural evolution of the humble telephone.

Crave has one thing to say to that: piffle.

Sadly, our piffling hasn't stopped BT from having yet another go at flogging the dead horse of video calling. Clearly someone high up the chain at BT -- possibly sitting at the top of the BT tower in a huge wing-backed leather chair -- has decided that video calls are a great way to generate even more cash. We can't disagree with that, as long as you can find someone prepared to pay for the service.

BT has two models, the Videophone 1000 and the Videophone 2000, which cost £150 and £200 respectively. Yes that's right, you too could pay up to two hundred pounds to do something that you could already do for much less on a computer with a webcam and some free software.

Video calls cost 10p per minute and you have to subscribe to Broadband Talk, which will cost you £2.99 a month and includes free evening and weekend calls, or £7.99 a month for 'unlimited' -- a new definition of unlimited, because free calls are limited to one hour at a time. It's worth pointing out that this will be on top of your BT line rental and whatever you pay for your broadband service. Crave would like to remind you that it is in fact free to send video over the Internet. So quite what BT is charging for is a mystery to us.

So if you have money to burn, want to look at tiny video and pay through the nose for the privilege, you can order everything you need on the BT Web site. You can even get a 10 per cent discount if you are buying two phones. -IM