Comcast and Skype announced that the two have struck up a deal to bring the VoIP service to Comcast HDTVs. This could prove to be a lot more useful than just a video chat with relatives.
Skype users will be able to utilize most of the familiar functions of the desktop app. That consists of being able to make and receive Skype video and audio calls, as well as send messages - all through an HDTV connected to a Comcast adapter box. (Naturally, that TV is going to need a webcam installed somewhere.)
Skype and Comcast subscribers will also be able to make use of the same features on a compatible smartphone or tablet, but the recipient of these calls and messages only need the basic Skype set-up to communicate. Best of all, when using Skype on a Comcast-enabled HDTV, users can still watch programming while making and answering calls - although it might get a bit loud and confusing with all of those audio feeds swirling around.
However, this collaboration has some real potential to produce a cheaper business-related, telepresence option as well. Small businesses or home offices with Comcast cable subscriptions can make extra use of their Internet plans by making cheaper conference calls. Perhaps Skype will even permit free Skype-to-Skype video chatting on this medium, which would be especially friendly to the user's budget.
Skype already has some enterprise-focused video conferencing options set up, but so far it hasn't been publicized as a tool for larger screens with the exception of the app's integration on Panasonic and LG HDTVs.
However, we'll know more once Comcast and Skype commence customer trials in the next few months. An exact launch date and pricing have not been revealed yet.