Benefits of Skype on TV

Using Skype on TV in your living room is a great way to stay in contact with your family and friends. Imagine having the entire family sitting on the sofa in front of the TV and chatting with family members hundreds of miles away during special occasions like Christmas, Birthdays and Thanksgiving. This is as close as you can get to being all together in the same room.

Not only is this a great way to get together without really getting together 🙂 but Skype video calls are also free! So you don’t even have to wait for special occasions to stay in touch with your loved ones. Need help with mom’s special recipe? Just give her a call and ask her.

Use Skype on TV in the living room

Having Skype on TV also means that you don’t have to crowd around the laptop computer while making a Skype call. You can all be sitting comfortably on the sofa while the other party’s video can be easily seen by everyone. If you have a large group of people wanting to join in on the call, using Skype on TV is the best solution.

No need to crowd around the laptop to Skype

While most modern laptop and tablet computers come with a front facing camera and support for Skype, the small screen is not ideal is more than one or two people wants to be on the call at the same time. Furthermore, starting up Skype on the computer may not be an easy task for older folks.

So if you are now sold on the idea of running Skype on TV, what are the available options for you? I have listed down below a few methods, starting from the easiest but the most expensive option to the most budget conscious method.

Option 1: TV with built-in Skype or Skype Ready TV with Compatible Webcam

If you are already planning to buy a new TV, why not get one that supports Skype? There are many top of the range smart TVs that have built-in webcam that can be used with Skype.

Samsung TV with Skype

Alternatively, there are also TVs that have support for Skype but you need to purchase a compatible webcam to go along with the TV. Here are a list of popular brand TVs and compatible webcam.

Samsung TV With Built-in Skype Webcam

Samsung TV With Skype Support (Webcam Sold Separately)

Webcam for Samsung TV with Skype Support

Panasonic TV with Skype Support (Webcam Sold Separately)

Webcam for Panasonic TV with Skype Support

Option 1 Pros

  • High quality video.
  • Uses the TV’s own user interface.
  • Certain models support group video calls with Skype Premium account.

Option 1 Cons

  • Expensive. Not viable unless you already plan to upgrade your TV.
  • User interface from manufacturer may not be user friendly.
  • Updates to support new Skype features may be slow or not available at all.

Option 2: Standalone Skype on TV Device

skype tv 4If you already own a fairly new TV, you may not want to get a new TV just for Skype support. The second option is to get an standalone Skype device that connects to your existing TV. They come with a camera, microphone, build in WiFi and Skype pre-installed.

All you have to do is to connect the device via HDMI and you can have Skype calls from your TV.

Both the models below come with wide angled lens and noise cancellation microphone. The wide angled lens lets a bigger group sit closer to the TV and be seen be captured by the camera. The noise cancellation microphone comes in handy for cutting out background noise for clearer communication.

The Tely Labs model has digital pan, tilt and zoom so it can zoom in on just the speaker.

The Logitech model has an always on feature that allows you to receive notification of incoming Skype calls even if the TV is off.

Either of these devices will set you back about $200. Cheaper than a new TV but still a hefty sum to pay.

Recommended Standalone Skype on TV Device

Option 2 Pros

  • Cheaper than buying a new TV.
  • High quality video.
  • Support for group video call with Skype Premium account.

Option 2 Cons

  • Relatively expensive at about $200.
  • Updates to support new Skype features may be slow or not available at all.

Option 3: Android Mini PC with Built-in Webcam

The budget solution is to use an Android Mini PC as the Skype device. This is quite similar to Option 2 except that the Android Mini PC can do much more than just Skype enable your TV at less than half the price of the standalone Skype on TV device. The Android Mini PC looks like a large USB flash drive and it connects to your TV via HDMI.

Measy U2C with Dock - Androydz.comIn fact, the Android Mini PC can turn your ordinary TV into a Smart TV. It can connect to the internet and access services like YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Facebook, Twitter, email and much, much more. In short, the Android Mini PC turns your TV into a TV sized tablet but minus the touch screen.

Mk812 Android Mini PC with antennaMost of the Android Mini PC devices do not come with a webcam. However it does support USB webcams but getting the right webcam and getting it all to work under Skype is a bit tricky.

If you think you are up to it, you can check out this Android Mini PC Buying Guide and a guide for compatible webcams for Skype.

However to keep things simple, I highly recommend one of the newer Android Mini PCs that comes with built-in webcam and microphone like the Measy U2C and MK812 Android Mini PC.

These models work similarly to the standalone Skype on TV devices. All you have to do is connect the Android PC to a free HDMI port on the TV. The interface should be familiar to anyone who has used an Android phone or tablet before.

Both these devices can be purchased at around $75. For input, you can use an existing keyboard and mouse but for convenience, a mini wireless keyboard is recommended. Check out this Mini Wireless Keyboard Guide for keyboard recommendations. There are many options for the wireless keyboard but you should be able to get one at under $25 which caps this Skype on TV solution at under $100.

Recommended Android Mini PC models

  1. Measy U2C Android Mini PC
  2. MK812 dual core Android Mini PC

Option 3 Pros

  • Cheapest option at less than $100.
  • Offers other Smart TV functions besides Skype support
  • Familiar Android OS interface.
  • Able to upgrade Skype app via Google Play Store.

Option 3 Cons

  • Video quality is only VGA due to Android OS limitation.
  • Current Skype app has no support for group video call. When joining a group video call, only voice is supported.

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