Digital Devices for Luddites

March 8, 2012 12:00 am

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One of Telikin's best features is video chat: with a built-in camera and microphone, the computer makes it easy to stay in touch with your friends and relatives using Skype.

Another gadget I used, though, can do the same thing without a computer. The telyHD, which sells for about $250, allows you to make Skype calls from your TV. The device, a small camera and microphone, sits on top of your television. It's fantastically simple to set up and use: you just plug in two cables, and enter your Skype user name and password on the TV screen using the device's remote. And then begin your call.

While I found the quality of the video calls to be adequate for the most part -- like all Skype calls, there was a fair bit of fuzziness and sometimes a lag on the line -- I did notice that the telyHD is highly sensitive to changes in light. In the evening, I had to bring an extra lamp into my living room so my parents could see my son tooling around. I suspect others will have to do the same because, after all, most people don't keep the TV room very bright.

My favorite thing about the telyHD was its remote. It has just a handful of buttons, including a direction pad to make your selections on screen and one big button to hang up a call. Compared with the series of menus, mouse clicks and passwords my parents need to go through when starting Skype on their home computer, beginning a call on this thing is a dream.

It's my mom's birthday this month. Of all the gifts I could think to give her, an easy way to start a video call with her grandson might be the best of all.


First Published 2012-03-07 23:07:58

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