The latest version of Skype for Windows can deliver HD-quality video at 1,280 x 720 resolution with a 30-frame-per-second refresh rate, according to the company. Users will need a high-speed broadband connection, an HD Webcam and a PC with a 1.8GHz dual-core processor and Skype 4.2 Beta for Windows.
"With HD-quality Skype video calls, we can bring our users even closer to the ones they love through an even richer, more meaningful video calling experience," said Josh Silverman, CEO of Skype, in a statement. "Imagine being able to see the sparkle of your grandchild's eyes or the setting of your best friend's engagement ring. Through the innovation of Skype's engineers and our hardware partners, these scenarios are now possible without having to buy expensive equipment or software."
HD Webcams are expected to be available in early 2010, according to Skype. Skype-certified HD Webcams will handle the video encoding and processing onboard, removing the need for the PC to encode the HD video. At CES 2009, two companies, faceVision and In Store Solutions, introduced Webcams that are optimized for Skype's 720p version.
Skype also unveiled partnerships with LG Electronics and Panasonic to embed Skype into Internet-connected HDTVs to allow video calls on a larger screen.
Panasonic is embedding Skype in its 2010 Viera Cast-enabled HDTVs, while LG plans 26 LCD and plasma HDTVs with NetCast Entertainment Access. Both companies expect models to be available by the middle of the year and will feature HD Webcams that can be plugged into the televisions and pick up sound and video from a couch several feet away.
"Embedding the Skype software in our broadband HDTVs enriches the user experience, allowing consumers to connect with family and friends from the comfort of their family room without a PC," said Peter Reiner, senior vice president, marketing, LG Electronics USA, in a statement.
Added Bob Perry, vice president of Panasonic Consumer Electronics Co., in a statement: "Panasonic Viera HDTV owners can now not only share photos and videos online; with Skype they can also talk to family and friends from the comfort of their living room."