May 2, 2009

Like Neil Steinberg once said, "Dude, Where's My Video Phone?"

When I was a little girl, I was into science fiction, and one of the things I always wanted was my very own video phone. Long after I grew up, along came broadband Internet. I was disappointed. Skype was not exactly what I hoped for, and the newest "innovations", apparently designed to counter the decline in land-line phones, do not match my sci-fi dreams.

The following article provides a history about the video phone, and some insight about why this concept was never adopted by the masses:

"Dude, Where's My Video Phone" Neil Steinberg, 10/15/07, Forbes

Below are a few examples of the current state of affairs regarding the world of video phones:
i2eye, from D-Link, is a videophone that looks like it would be easy to use for a grandparent who doesn't have a computer.

The thing is, most grandparents of young babies are probably in their 50's, or maybe in their early 60's. According to study by Scarborough Research, conducted in 2006-07, about 74% of adults 55 years and older own a computer. All a grandparent needs to do is download something like Skype, plug in a $40.00 webcam, and things are good to go.

The ASUS Eee Videophone uses Skype. (For the uninitiated, Skype is available for free and is adequate for my video phone needs.) The following demonstration video provides information about the ways it can be used and how users interact with the interface. Please excuse the rather boring music looping in the background of the demo.

The ACN Videophone was recently featured on Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice. Below is a videoclip of the phone in action, along with it's advanced features that allow you to project audio and video to a larger screen.

I found the promo video for the ACN video phone, featuring Donald Trump, a bit amusing. Apparently the ACN video phone is distributed through multi-level marketing.

If you are a Verizon subscriber, you probably have heard of the "Hub". Verizon came out with the VerizonHub a couple of months ago, and I was hoping to get my hands on one before writing a review.
When I learned that it had a touch-screen interface, but did not provide direct access to the web, I was not in a hurry. My dream version of the "hub" would have this feature.

For more information, you can "interact" with a simulation of the phone online: "Get a Feel for the Verizon Hub"

Detailed information about the Verizon Hub can be found on the product's home page: Welcome to the Home Phone Reinvented

Here is something I found that was a bit puzzling:

The above pictures are of the Amstrad videophone, which I think debuted in 2004. The touchscreen offers a variety of options. This phone looks like it was designed by a committee that decided to incorporate ALL the ideas that were brainstormed by the team. There is the traditional phone button interface, a set of qwerty buttons that mimic what you would find on a text-messaging teen's cell phone, and a slide-out qwerty keyboard for the elders and others who have pudgier fingers. Of course, you can always use the touch screen interface!

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