Cisco unveils home videoconferencing gear

Cisco Systems Inc. on Wednesday unveiled a home videoconferencing product, representing the first foray by the world’s largest networking equipment maker into a market now dominated by free video chat services such as Skype.

Cisco’s product, called “umi,” includes a hi-definition (HD) camera, a console and a remote, the company said.

The gear can connect to an existing HD television and a broadband Internet connection to create a video communications experience that Cisco said will be “clear, natural and lifelike.”

“Cisco umi will bring the unique telepresence experience into living rooms and change the way we are able to be together with family and friends,” John Chambers, Cisco’s chief executive officer, said in a statement.

“We envision a future where technologies like this will play a role in connecting consumers with businesses to enable the delivery of new services — ranging from education, to health care, to financial services — to the home,” he added.

Cisco said consumers can preorder umi on the company’s website starting from Wednesday and the product is scheduled to be available in the stores of electronics retailer Best Buy from Nov. 14.

The gear is priced at $599 U.S. dollars with a monthly fee of $24. 99 dollars for unlimited calls, video messaging and video storage.

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