Asus releases Skype video phone

Users can make free Skype calls without using a computer with the Eee video phone AiGuru SV1.

Skype videophone

Asus has reinvigorated the classic dedicated video phone concept with the AiGuru SV1, the world's first standalone Skype video phone.

The phone bears Asus' 'Eee' branding, which it created with the launch of its first netbook in 2007.

The phone stands upright on the desk and features a 7in display with a built in webcam, speaker and microphone. It can hook up to networks via Wi-Fi, so it can be more easily used in an office. Asus said that SV1's icon based interface and simple button layout will make it easy for anyone to make Internet calls without having to use a computer.

As with computer-based Skype, using the AiGuru SV1, calls to other Skype users are free, whether the recipient of the call is using a computer, mobile or another video phone. Users can also make SkypeOut calls to fixed lines at regular Skype rates.

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Companies such as BT have tried to reintroduce video phones in the last couple of years with little success, but Asus is hoping that the popularity of the Skype platform - along with the Eee branding - will give its videophone some momentum.

"With more than 25 per cent of Skype-to-Skype calls including video, we know that video calling is an easy, accessible and relevant way for people to communicate," said Manrique Brenes, Skype's director of business development and product management for consumer electronics in a statement.

"The video phone offers the benefits of video calling to a much wider audience, allowing friends and families to share their worlds face-to-face without being tied to a computer."

The AiGuru SV1 is available now in the US for $299.95 from the Skype online shop. It will be available in Europe next week for 269.95 or 219.95.

Skype has been expanding into more platforms over the past year, such as 3's Skypephone S2 mobile handset, which we reviewed last year.

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