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Cisco ūmi™ telepresence

Imagine using your brand new high-definition TV to connect with family and friends from all over the world? Imagine seeing and hearing them so clearly that it’s almost as if they were right there in the living room?

That’s the reality of ūmi telepresence, a brand new technology from Cisco that makes it all happen at the touch of a button.

Video calling for the home

Video conferencing technology has been around for years but it has struggled to make it out of the corporate boardroom. Too often, consumers have been confronted with poor quality images, mismatched audio, scheduling problems, or just the sheer complexity of setting everything up.

The result? Millions of idle web cams, unused Skype accounts, and a lot of disillusioned family members feeling further apart than ever.

Cisco’s ūmi telepresence takes all the hard work and uncertainty out of video calling. By hooking up to your exiting HD TV and broadband connection, ūmi (pronounced “you-me”) requires nothing more complicated than being able to operate a remote.

If you’re watching TV and a call comes in, all you have to do is touch a button on the remote to start talking. If your TV is turned off, ūmi lets you know a friend is trying to reach you, so you can answer the call while the TV turns on. The on-screen ūmi interface makes it easy to look through your contacts and view video messages, and you can even get notifications on your laptop or your mobile phone.

Additional features

With the camera mounted on top of the TV, you can become the director of your own video call. You can pan the room to follow the action or zoom in to get up close and personal, all from the comfort of the couch. You can even produce separate ūmi videos, which you can upload to Facebook and YouTube, or e-mail to friends.

With ūmi, you are not just restricted to the living room. It can place and receive video calls from any computer with a webcam and Google video chat.

You can also personalize ūmi, recording a “sorry we’re not here” message, assigning unique ringtones for regular callers, and adding new profile pictures. Video calls can be screened or blocked, and the camera can be shuttered for additional privacy.

What you need

You need three things to get started with ūmi: an HDTV with an HDMI input port; a broadband connection; and a ūmi Service Plan.

The picture and audio quality you get with ūmi will depend on your broadband connection speed. The Cisco web site allows you to test your connection speed to see how well ūmi will run.

The ūmi Service Plan requires a one-year commitment. You can pay $24.99 a month or you can pay the full year upfront and save the equivalent of one month’s fee. The ūmi telepresence equipment, which consists of a camera, a console and a ūmi remote, costs $599 and can be pre-ordered from the Cisco online store. Pre-orders will start to ship on November 15.

If you have friends and family that you are longing to see and hear in a relaxed family setting, then Cisco ūmi telepresence is the perfect solution!

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