Biscotti TV Phone by Biscotti Inc.
$149 at Biscotti.com
For at least 50 years, we’ve been told that home video phone calling is the technology of the future. Yet consumers just don’t seem all that interested. Here’s the latest effort to change that--an attractive and effective little device that quickly turns a living room into a video conference center.
The Biscotti is well named, for it looks just like one of those long, curved cookies you dip into your morning coffee. Inside is a high-quality video camera and microphone. Just plug in to electric power, and connect to your TV set, using an HDMI connector. You also need a home Wi-Fi network and a broadband Internet hookup.
Setting up the system takes a little doing, because you must use a tiny remote control unit and an onscreen keyboard to set up your account. Also, to make video calls, you must add friends and family to the online address book, Biscotti lets you make calls to other Biscotti owners, or to people using Google Inc.’s Talk service, which gives access to millions of camera-equipped Android cell phones.
Once you’re set, calling is pretty much painless. Voice quality is uneven but decent enough. Video is sharp, though occasionally beset by imperfections, depending on the quality of your broadband connection. If home video calling has a future, it might very well resemble a Biscotti.