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.
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.