Skype TV deals with LG and Panasonic

Skype has forged deals with consumer electronics makers LG Electronics and Panasonic in a bid to move its Internet video service beyond the desktop computer to the TV.

The service, which includes free video calls between Skype members, will compete with consumer video conference services being developed by companies such as Cisco Systems and Polycom, which plans to develop consumer video services with International Business Machines Corp.

Skype, a former eBay unit, said both LG and Panasonic will have high-definition TVs supporting its service around mid-year. Both television makers will embed the Skype technology in television models with Internet connections and will sell separate Web cameras that have built in microphones for television viewers who want to use Skype.

Skype said Panasonic will support Skype in its VT and G series televisions in the United States, with screen sizes up to 65 inches. LG will embed Skype in 26 new LCD and plasma screen TVs, which will also come in a range of sizes.

Both LG and Panasonic are expected to demonstrate the service this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

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