|AOL.com Mail Search|
Combine geek-dad gadget lust with the promise of an easier way to stay in touch with faraway family, and you can see how the latest generation of standalone video chat boxes might have a good sales story to tell for this Father's Day weekend. While Cisco's discontinued ?mi never caught on in a big way with consumers (possibly the introductory $600 price and $25 monthly fee had something to do with it), the idea of a slim HD camera pack that fits atop the living room TV, instantly connecting with similar hardware or distributed software chat apps, still seems promising.
The two Mac and iOS-friendly set-top chat products making a move in the market now are the $149 Biscotti and the $249 telyHD. Both systems work in a straightforward way -- they connect to your TV via HDMI, capture an HD image with an onboard camera and tie into your home network to call friends and family.
Neither unit requires a monthly subscription plan, thereby avoiding the Cisco problem. Of course, neither plays along with Apple's wasn't-it-supposed-to-be-open FaceTime protocol, so if you're looking for a portable video chatting device that works with Skype, Google Talk and FaceTime you might consider the $199 iPod touch.
Both the telyHD and the Biscotti interoperate with a public video chat service (Google Talk for Biscotti, Skype for telyHD) so you aren't limited to chatting with the folks who have the same hardware. Both platforms also got software updates in the past few days, adding to their utility and (in the case of the telyHD) delivering tighter integration for iPhone and iPad users who want to share photos or control their chat settings from their mobile device.
The Biscotti TV Phone system, shown above, is simpler and more no-frills than the telyHD. Biscotti can chat video or audio to Mac or PC users via
|Apple TV||Mac 101|