Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

TelyHD Adds AirPlay, Remote Control App

As smart TVs make a bigger footprint in living rooms, the features and functions of Internet-connected televisions are far surpassing the capabilities of “dumb” TVs, opening up the market for set-top boxes and other interim devices.

One such product is telyHD, which hit the market in January and enables HD video chatting, via Skype, on television sets. It has a wide-angle lens that captures more of the space around you, making it ideal for group chats.

Now Tely Labs, the company that makes the product, is updating its software to include a full Web browser, and to work with Apple’s AirPlay for basic media sharing. It will also allow a user to control the telyHD with his or her smartphone, instead of a cumbersome remote control.

TelyHD users will be able to wirelessly share photos to their TVs by going into the camera roll on a Wi-Fi-connected iPhone or iPad, tapping AirPlay (provided an Airplay-compatible device is nearby) and selecting the telyHD as the destination. Previously, users could share media with other telyHD users by inserting a memory card into the back of the device and uploading it through chat.

And they can also ditch the remote: Tely’s new SmartRemote app for iOS and Android devices allows users to control the telyHD, search for Skype contacts and Web content, and start and end calls, all from their smartphones.

The new Web browser, which is accessible through the Menu option on the telyHD standard remote, works with both a USB-connected keyboard and mouse and the SmartRemote app.

AllThingsD’s Walt Mossberg gave the telyHD a full review in January of this year; he recommended the device for video chatting, but noted that its remote control left room for improvement. TelyLabs introduced a new, seven-button remote about a month ago that current customers could get for free in exchange for the old remote.

The upside of a product like the telyHD, compared to other videoconference systems for the home, is that, at $250, it’s relatively inexpensive. There’s no additional monthly fee for video chatting.

The downsides? While the software update, called the Entertainment Suite, is free for the first 30 days, it costs $49 after the trial period ends. Also, while the new telyHD wirelessly sends pictures from a mobile device to the TV, it won’t share video or audio content across devices. And it doesn’t offer content-specific apps, the way some set-top boxes do.

TelyLabs also said earlier this year that a second, more expensive telyHD for business users was in the works, but has declined to say exactly when that product is expected to hit the market.

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