The Tely Labs TelyHD is a simple, high-def Android-based video calling system that uses Skype to connect you to whoever you want to talk to, right from your television. It looks little bit like Xbox Kinect, and it sits on top of your telly too, but is it actually any good? We took it for a spin to find out.
The TelyHD is easy to set up straight out of the box, and comes with all the necessary HDMI and power cables, and it can connect straight to your network over Wi-Fi or wired ethernet if your router is within reach.
Novices will be thrilled by the large and extensive quick start guide, as it answers a lot of questions, and tooltips pop-up on screen to give you a helping hand too. Setting it up on your TV is a doddle, as all you have to do is adjust the clamp mechanism to the width of your TV, plonk it on top, and it should stay put just fine. It supports a wide range of widths, so don't feel left out if your telly is a bit on the chunky side, or razer thin either. It can also be placed flat on a surface, or even perched on a tripod too.
The interface is simple enough, as is the remote to control it all with, but don't expect anything outside of the main Skype attraction, as right now the only bonus is in the form of a web browser that requires a keyboard and mouse hooked up to the TelyHD, and a clunky iOS/Android app on your phone to control it by. Tely Labs says HD-media streaming services will come in the future, but as we like to say, you should always buy a gadget for what it does now rather than what it may do in the future.
In our testing, video call quality proved perfectly acceptable, but your internet connection is the main factor here. While we managed to get a good feed between two wired connections, when both parties were on slightly slower wireless, things started to look a little less crystal clear.
If you're watching something else, the front of the camera has an indicator light and button for answering calls, as well as speakers on the side to let you know a call is incoming. All you need to do is switch over to the TelyHD source and hit answer on your remote to take the call, which is quite handy.
The TelyHD also supports Apple Airplay for photos, so you can beam up some snaps on the big screen, and it can also share photos with other TelyHD users from an SD card.
The Tely HD’s £199 price is a little hard to swallow for a what is essentially a glorified webcam. If you already own an Xbox 360, the £85 Kinect might be a better option, given its built in web chat skills and voice recognition.
And despite being built on Android, the TelyHD only works with Skype, so you can't download and install any other apps onto the device either - so that's no Angry Birds whilst you wait for a conference call. Yet, anyway: Tely Labs says that it'll begin adding Android apps early this year, though these will have to be added by the company itself to make sure they work on a big screen.
The web browser is slow and rickety too: it can be used to load up YouTube to watch a few clips whilst you kill some time, but don't expect to do any extensive browsing on it.
Lastly, the camera also only supports a mini-HDMI-to-HDMI cable, which thankfully is bundled in the box, but just remember to take it with you if you're moving the system about.
The bottom line
For a dedicated Skype system, the TelyHD does the part, and looks pretty good doing it too. It’s simple enough for technophobes to get to grips with, so if you want to keep in touch with the grandparents, it might be a great idea. It might look an awful lot like Xbox Kinect, but if that's been sat on your telly collecting dust whilst waiting for Skype to touch down, then make some room for the TelyHD - as long as you have the cash for it.