Skype and Logitech have teamed up to offer high-quality video calls over Skype's VoIP service. They promise an end to grainy video calls on a tiny screen and a new age that can rival professional video conferencing units.
It's a big ask. But with 640 x 480 pixel VGA resolution and offering 30 frames per second, High Quality Video on Skype looks like it'll be great for keeping in touch with friends and family.
Video calling is back
At a demo in London's Soho this afternoon, Logitech and Skype showed off the amazing quality of the VGA video chat. The autofocus on the Logitech camera automatically refocuses in a couple of seconds; it's powerful enough to zoom in on the text on a business card, for example.
The problem with video calling (and maybe the reason it just hasn't taken off) is that you have to smarten yourself up before making a call. It will also be more important to look into the camera, and control your body movements and facial expressions as they will be clearer.
There's a catch, of course. To enjoy higher quality video calls, the caller and the call-ee will need the latest version of Skype (v3.6), one of three High Quality Video-certified Logitech webcams, a PC with a dual-core processor, and a broadband connection rated at a speed of at least 384kbps.
1 in 4 Skype calls use video
"This is a major leap in the clarity and smoothness of free video calls over the internet," said Gareth O'Loughlin, Skype's general manager for mobile and hardware devices.
"One in four Skype calls already involve video, so we know our users love to show and not just tell. High Quality Video will take Skype conversations to a whole new level of realism. In the past, only big businesses could afford this kind of video quality. It's now time to take it to everyone else."
Compatible High Quality Video-certified Logitech webcams are the Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000 (£70), the Logitech QuickCam Pro for Notebooks (£70), and the Logitech QuickCam Orbit AF (£90). All are available now.
Skype 3.6 for Windows, currently in beta, will be available as a free download in November. You'll also need the Logitech QuickCam Software version 11.5, expected to be available as a free download at www.logitech.com/downloads in November.