Video Calling from the Livingroom.


General Feeler for feedback.

Since COVID, my family has become more welcoming to video calling since travel is very limited right now. We have been using skype. However, I grew tired of huddling around the laptop in the office or the coffee table in the living room. Has anyone figured out how to use the TV and put the webcam near the TV?

I have hacked something together with my laptop, tripod and webcam. It works but rather clunky and lots of setup and tear down involved. I have tried the raspberry PI but that ended in frustration. Really don’t want to go down the route of a HTPC or NUC that is quite the investment for a niche use case.

You would think you just need to hook up a webcam to a streamer device like AppleTV…roku or even smart tv. Alas it is not that simple.

Anyone have success trying something? or is the problem statement absurd.

Comments (11)

11 responses to “Video Calling from the Livingroom.”

  1. Lauren Glenn

    Yes. XBOX with Kinect. Not kidding. One big selling point of Kinect was that you can do this... if you got up and walked around, it would track you and pan across too.

    I got a Kinect cheap online and hooked to an XBOX 1X with an off-brand Kinect adapter. Works just fine too.

    On top of this, it works really well for logging you in without having to type in a password.

    • red.radar

      In reply to alissa914:

      Since I stopped playing video games nearly 15 year ago, the thought never crossed my mind to consider the xbox in this way.

      Thanks for the tip.

      • rsfarris

        In reply to red.radar:

        Xbox with Kinect, but you can also plug a regular webcam into a USB port on the Xbox. We've done that for a couple of years now and it works great. Recently, we switched to using Facetime, propping up the iPad in front of the TV, and then screen mirroring to our Vizio. It's a little more complex but my wife's parents won't use anything but Facetime, so it's easier to just do one thing.

    • Chris_Kez

      In reply to alissa914:

      Have you used Skype with Kinect recently? I wondered about this the other night, whether all the software support was still in place given the deprecation of Kinect. Once again Microsoft’s timing was wrong, lol.

  2. venuvedam

    My mother (80 years) back in India has a Facebook Portal TV connected to a 55" TV. It is a god-send actually. She can video-call us anytime from the TV using a very user-friendly remote via WhatsApp (or Facebook Messenger which I don't use). We appear on the big screen for her. It has far-field Microphones, movement tracking (follows you, zooms in and out - very much like Kinect/Skype). Great product for her. I highly recommend it. Since it is on Whatsapp and almost everyone in India, UK, Europe are on Whatsapp - this is a great tool for communication.

    However, I know US doesn't use Whatsapp. If you are OK with Facebook messenger, I think this is a pretty darn decent device.

    • red.radar

      In reply to venuvedam:

      I have looked at the Portal and it is a fascinating device.

      Believe it or not... we are one of the few people left on the planet that doesn't have a facebook account. Not certain I want to end that streak.... but if the product is right perhaps we go down that path.

  3. lwetzel

    A computer, Web Cam, and a TV. Just plug them together and you have what you want. Easy!

  4. gregsedwards

    I've mostly been using Skype on the living room TV through Xbox One with Kinect to chat with my mom, who's joining from an Echo Show at her home. It works great. On our end, the Kinect can sense and adjust the angle to keep the kids in frame.

    But I also recognize that a lot of us either no longer have a functioning Kinect or would prefer to use a more flexible solution. A PC connected/casting to your TV with a nice wide angle webcam is all you really need. I have a Logitech Brio 4K, which is just superb. And it has a nice long USB cable, so you can easily mount it over the TV to maintain eye contact while you chat. Pair that setup with a Jabra Speak conference puck (wired or Bluetooth) in the center of the living room, and you're in business.

  5. youwerewarned

    HDMI into the TV works every time. Put the notebook/camera next to the popcorn bowl unless you really don't want them to see your facial expressions.