Cisco umi Telepresence Hands-On: 1080p Awesomeness

Whoa. That’s the word that comes to mind when I saw umi telepresence in action. Cisco demoed this product on a huge Sony 55-inch TV, and we could see the presenter’s aunt in full 1080p. We had her wave her hand and didn’t see any motion blur. We could also easily make out the wrinkles in her face (for better or for worse) and saw a pretty wide field of view. There was a little bit of grain, but overall umi is very impressive.

We really dig the subtle clover interface in the upper right hand corner of the TV, where you can make outgoing calls and see alerts for incoming umi calls. Dialing out is as easy as selecting the other person’s photo on screen. You can snap your own profile pic with the device, as well as record a personal greeting. The audio quality wasn’t pristine, but we could easily hear the other caller. Some other people in the room complained of tinny sound. (Kids running around in the background would be a good test).

So what do you think of umi? Is it worth $599, plus 25 bucks per month for service? Check out the videos below.

Making a call


Receiving a call


Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, 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. Tom Smith Says:

    Or you can continue using skype or MSN Messenger and by a nice new netbook for the same price without the service charge!

    This is a very expensive toy that will never get adoption.

  2. pjs_boston Says:

    Wow! This implementation may not sell by the millions but telepresence using your HDTV is most definitely the wave of the future. The wide field HD camera does a few things that greatly improve on the computer video chat experience.

    1) The other person is shown sitting in a room. This makes it feel like you’re sitting across the coffee table chatting. Much more real, much more personal.

    2) There is no need for a picture-in-picture view of yourself to make sure you remain within the camera field of view. This is a big deal because the main turnoff most people have with video chat is having to look at their own ugly mug the whole time. That part of video chat definitely makes me feel uncomfortable.

    In a few years this tech may come included on new TV sets. Then we’ll have ubiquitous telepresence…

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