Video chat phones easy enough for anyone?
August 14, 2014 6:57 AM   Subscribe

Are there any great single-purpose video phone devices of the kind that people used to think would be everywhere -- i.e. a device whose sole purpose is to do video chat? In particular, something that would be dead simple, and easy enough for kids and computer-unsavvy people to use easily.
posted by shivohum to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Isn't that what Skype is for?
posted by dfriedman at 7:06 AM on August 14, 2014

Response by poster: Yeah, I could imagine this device using Skype, but I'm not looking for Skype on a regular computer and/or Facetime on an iPhone or iPad.

I'm looking for something that might have the good old-fashioned fun of sitting in a place, ringing, and being answerable as easily as landline phones are.
posted by shivohum at 7:10 AM on August 14, 2014

I mean, they make these. ACN is one of a number of brands that make single-purpose video phones. They basically don't matter any more now that skype and facetime can happen just about everywhere, but back before smartphones were so ubiquitous they were more of a thing, especially for people who are deaf/hoh.
posted by phunniemee at 7:22 AM on August 14, 2014

Honestly, I think the most accurate answer to your question is "No," because virtually every device capable of doing this is also good at other things. Dick Tracy's "video chat watch" has indeed arrived, but it also plays games and movies and music.

That said, there are a handful of things that turn a TV into a video chat, like the Biscotti.
posted by jbickers at 7:23 AM on August 14, 2014

I mean, an iPod Touch with no apps installed and only the Facetime icon visible would fit your criteria. Technically it has the capacity to do other things but you could make it a single-purpose device.
posted by Jairus at 8:16 AM on August 14, 2014

I am afraid you will be hard pressed to find any tech gadget that is single-purpose these days. It is just impossible to market these, and device manufacturers these days just want to cram as much functionality as they can into a device.

Can you imagine a phone being made today that you can only talk and receive calls with ?????

So your best bet is to specify a budget and start narrowing down from there. Pick a device that does video chat among other functions, and disable those other functions.

That said .. you mentioned "kids" and "computer-unsavvy" . First off, most kids these days are fully capable of navigating any electronic UI from the looks of it. It's like, they are just born with that skill wired into their heads.

Next, how "unsavvy" are we talking about? As others have mentioned, a cheap tablet-like device with nothing but a skype icon on the homepage? again, even if they were to launch skype, they still have to contend with the UI showing ads, maybe showing contacts who are online adn contacts who are offline .. and then they have to learn how to answer calls .. so ... it might be worth while to spend some time sitting with them and teaching them the ropes irrespective of the device you settle on.

EDIT: Please do post back what you settled on.
posted by harisund at 10:39 AM on August 14, 2014

Drawback to Skype or similars is the sender's camera generally is low quality, can't capture finger spelling and facial expression.

Business-marketed single purpose phone
US$1000 for a pair.

Harris Communications has been in the assistive-tech for deaf/hoh for decades. Here's a $200 clearance model

If you want cheaper, the best bet would be exploring the deaf/hoh market/community for used phones like the D-Link immediately above.
posted by Jesse the K at 8:06 AM on August 15, 2014

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