Way back in the 1930s, Stella Gibbons had her heroine Flora talk on a videophone early on in her pioneering novel of life in the raw, Cold Comfort Farm. Yet 50 years later, the video-phone is one of the few nasty things in the woodshed that has still not really come into being. Nevertheless, the idea of being able to see your friends as you natter to them on the phone may be superficially attractive – unless you usually take calls while in the bath or still in bed. It will come as no surprise, therefore, to learn that Mitsubishi Electric has announced a consumer version of its still-frame Luma 100 commercial picture phone. Designed and made at Mitsubishi’s Santa Clara, California plant, the VisiTel visual display phone has a built-in video camera and a mono monitor that measures 4.5 across the diagonal. Requiring no special wiring, it plugs into standard telephone wall socket – but ain’t no use unless your callers have one too. Available in black or ivory, the Visitel is $399.
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