The Perfect Video Phone? Your HDTV.

The video phone is another one of those permanently futuristic technologies that electronics companies never seem to get right for mainstream consumers. They've been trying for decades though, and the closest thing to a reliable video phone we've got is the low-res web cam-reliant software of Apple's iChat and Skype's videoconferencing tool.

Taiwanese manufacturer Quanta will try to do these products one better when, by the end of 2008, it plans to partner with software company OoVoo to make a video conferencing set top box that operates in high-def and interfaces with our HDTVs. With a 1280x720 picture beamed directly into the living room and a camera capturing chatters in their natural environment (the couch), this video phone may finally deliver.

Quanta and OoVoo still have a ways to go-they haven't explained whether the set top box will rely on WiFi or ethernet, there's no official pricing, and they're still hoping to strike deals with other box-makers (does this mean even more cameras in our Comcast box?). Yet, the market for such a system could be huge since it would likely appeal to family members that aren't entirely comfortable operating a computer, but would gladly sit in front of the television. -Rachel Rosmarin