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Asus Eee Videophone AiGuru SV1 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £220
inc VAT

Asus’s Eee Videophone AiGuru SV1 looks like a cross between a baby monitor and a prop from a 1970s sci-fi series.

It’s the world’s first Skype videophone and allows you to make free video calls over the web to other Skype users. You’ll need broadband – the SV1 supports both wired and wireless network connections. Its advantage over previous videophones is that you can talk face-to-face with any of Skype’s 405 million registered users, just as long as they have a webcam.

It uses the same Intel Atom processor that most netbooks have, and provides a built-in 7in screen, microphone, speaker and webcam. There’s no touch screen, but it’s easy to navigate the menus and get everything set up. Once online, you can create a new Skype account or use an existing one. Privacy options let you limit who can see and call you when you’re online. The main interface has large, clearly labelled icons that let you make calls and change your settings. However, adding contacts can be a pain, as you have to select the letters individually from the onscreen keyboard using the SV1’s cursor pad. The Videophone stores only a single user account too, which means multiple users can’t use it together, so it makes sense to have one account for your entire household.

The built-in camera shoots video at the Skype service’s maximum resolution of 640×480 at 30fps. Despite this, the results weren’t very impressive when compared with those from other webcams. It didn’t cope well in poor light and the light cast by energy-saving bulbs gave video a yellow hue. It fared much better in natural daylight and under the strip lighting in our labs. The SV1 can be tilted, which makes it easy to get yourself in the shot. Just as importantly, the speaker and microphone are both excellent. It has a built-in battery too, but this only lasts for a pitiful 24 minutes.

Video and voice-only calls to other Skype users are free. You’ll need to buy Skype credits, or sign up to a monthly plan, to call landline and mobile numbers. You can’t top up credits, or manage your subscription, via the SV1 itself. The onscreen keypad, like the onscreen keyboard, is awkward to use, so it’s not ideal for making quick voice calls.

Mobile phone video calls may not have caught on, but calling from the comfort of your home, with no bill to worry about, is an attractive proposition. Most people who want to make video calls will be better off spending that money on a netbook with a webcam, such as Acer’s Aspire One. It’s a far more flexible communication device, letting you email, instant message and use social networking sites, too.



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