Why do companies continue to try and hawk video phones? I'm not talking about phones that play video, but a phone that transmits both your voice and your face during a call. For 50 years, futurists have envisioned them and every attempt has been met by yawns if not outright contempt, largely because two people had to have the same equipment (which is why webcam video chatting has been widely adopted).
But here we go again. A company called Saygus (no, I've never heard of them either) will soon unveil the VPhone V1, a two-way video Android phone the company says Verizon will carry in the next few months. Using low bandwidth technology, Saygus says it can transmit real-time VGA video via a pinhole camera lens located to the right of the earpiece speaker — which means a lot of ear-oil smudging the lens, possibly resulting in gauzy images. You'll also be able to save the video chats to a remote server.
Obviously the only way this works is if two people buy a VPhone, or if other cellphone makers start equipping their phones with similarly located lenses and compatible video capabilities, more likely when wider-bandwidth 4G networks are launched a year or so from now.
VPhone may be a viable Android phone without the video. It's got a 5MP camera with flash on the rear, a slide-out horizontal QWERTY keyboard, a large 3.5-inch touchscreen, Wi-Fi, and a hefty 7-hour rated talk time. Saygus says the battery will give you four hours of video chatting, if you can find anyone else to chat with.