Panasonic Debuts Webcam Add-On For Skype Video Calls Over VIERA HDTVs

It's just a matter of time at this point: the whole world will be ditching the landline phone and Skyping before the next century. Not that we'll be around most likely to see if this pans out, but there's our wild stab at the future. Skype has already become to go-to choice for international calling, and it's already becoming a huge, important part of many smartphones.

Now, Skype is invading the television, but considering that no current TVs ship with webcams built right in (or none that come to mind), Panasonic is crafting a stop-gap solution for video chatters until sets begin to ship with those cameras in the bezel. Those webcam-ready sets can't be too far out, but for now, you'll need one of these to bring effective Skyping to your HDTV.

Of course, Panasonic's new TY-CC10W webcam only works on Panasonic VIERA HDTVs; those that own one of those sets can just plug the webcam into the rear USB 2.0 port. If their TV has the latest firmware and a live connection to the Internet, video chats at up to 720p can then be accomplished within Skype. It also has four built-in microphones to pick up audio from a variety of points, presumably useful if the whole family is gathered around to chat. The company plans to start selling these first in Japan next month for around $190, which is awfully expensive in our estimation. Some basic feature phones can be purchased for the same amount, and users could also just purchase an inexpensive webcam to Skype over their PC. But of course, early adopters will always be asked to pay dearly for newer technologies, though there's no word yet on when Panasonic will sell these in other markets.