Cisco umi Brings HD Telepresence to Consumers…for $599

Skype gave it a shot, but Cisco is taking video calling via your TV to the next level. The new Cisco umi telepresence promises to deliver full HD video quality in your living room. The product bundle includes an HD camera, a console that attaches to your TV, and a dedicated remote. The company promises a superior video and audio experience, and that umi will be able to adjust automatically to various lighting conditions. We’re going to see for ourselves how good the experience is, but it had better be amazing. Umi costs $599 for the hardware and a relatively steep $24.99 per month for unlimited calls.

Check out our hands-on with the Cisco umi >>

The umi telepresence device has a sleek on-screen user interface for users to make calls, access video messages, manage contacts, and customize their profile and settings. You can also record videos and then share them on Facebook, YouTube, or via email. Users can even keep in touch with people who don’t have ūmi by placing and receiving video calls from any computer with a webcam and Google video chat. The umi lets you record video greetings, and you can check for video messages on your laptop or mobile phone (Cisco flashed the iPhone and a BlackBerry on screen.)

Bonus: the umi is compatible with Google Talk. Cisco will be doing a mall tour with this product so people can see umi for themselves, and the company says that it’s working with Oprah Winfrey so that she can interview guests from afar (nice plug). Cisco is also working with Verizon to roll out umi to its Fios customers. We’re hoping for some affordable bundling offers.

Check out the feature list below, and stay tuned for hands-on impressions.

Cisco ūmi Key Features and Benefits
• Users enjoy amazingly clear and lifelike full HD experience.
• An existing HD television and a broadband Internet connection are all that is needed.
• Cisco ūmi is easy to set up and simple to use – users can be together at the touch of a button.
• Video calls can be placed and received on any computer with a webcam and Google video chat.
• Users will never miss a ūmi call with video messages.
• Cisco ūmi videos can be created and then shared on Facebook, YouTube, or email.
• Video messages can be checked on on-the-go with a laptop.
• New video message notices arrive via text on a mobile phone.
• From the comfort of the couch, users can pan the room and even zoom in to get up close and personal, or pull back to include the whole family.
• Privacy features like call screening and blocking, and a camera shutter that closes, keep users in control of their privacy.
• Personalize with a unique video greeting, ringtones, and calling favorites.
• The stylish design is a perfect match for the living room and HD television.
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AUTHOR BIO
Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptopmag.com, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
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  1. don clark - atlanta Says:

    Can you say overpriced?
    Not to mention a monthly fee? Why not use the internet connection people already have?

    I will wait for a better solution.

  2. megawatts Says:

    EXPENSIVE..

    Does it work with skype?

  3. Pat Says:

    This stuff is great, but if you’re stuck between Skype and consumer video, and expensive stand-alone systems, now there’s video conferencing online services for business, like Nefsis.

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