Big news from Skype: They're making a big push for better video quality, with both new HD webcams and software support, but that's not the biggest deal here. They're also partnering with LG and Panasonic for Skype-enabled HDTVs.
The new Skype 4.2 beta can achieve better quality video than ever before: 1280 x 720 resolution at 30fps. They've also got a line of HD webcams (hardware from faceVision and In Store) that pack video encoding and processing onboard, so as not to confound your grandma's crappy old computer. There are two versions from each manufacturer: FaceVision has one with and one without a microphone ($US100 and $US70, respectively) and In Store has the Freetalk Pro at $US120 and the presumably ever pro-er Freetalk Pro Plus at $US140.
Now for those HDTVs. LG and Panasonic are the hardware partners here, and they've integrated both a webcam and Skype software into their HDTVs. They'll have just about every Skype feature the computer software has - voicemail, landline and mobile calls, free Skype-to-Skype, all that - as well as a 720p webcam and microphones specifically designed to pick up sound at couch distance. Want to say hello to your kid, niece, nephew, grandkid, whatever, but he or she won't sit still in front of a computer? Let 'em run around in front of the TV! We'll get more info from Skype on specific pricing and availability for these TVs this week. [Skype]