Seeking a Teleconferencing Solution to Meet a Family Need


My 100-year-old mother and stepfather live too far away for me to make frequent trips to see them. And when I do visit, my mother can’t handle more than an hour-long visit per day. So, I’m looking for a virtual solution.

They have their own apartment at an assisted-living facility. What I’m envisioning—and I don’t know if such a thing even exists—is a system that would allow them and me/my family to see and hear each other on our TV sets. They and I both have digital, flat-screen TVs with PC input connections.

Any system that I buy would have to be extremely user-friendly on their end, not involving a standard computer because they have never owned nor used a computer and have made it very clear that they do not want to learn how to use one.

So, any practical solution would have to involve a “black box” at their end that is hooked up to the TV so that they pretty much just turn the unit on and can see and hear me/us at the other end. They have cable hookup, if that would work, or I suppose a satellite connection would be fine if that’s less complicated. Of course, I realize that a motion camera would have to be part of the system at both ends.

At our end, the system doesn’t need to be as user-friendly because my wife and I are both tech-savvy and have the computers to do any job required.

Of course, affordability is an issue too. If such a system exists, would it cost more than, say, $1,000 for the equipment?

Thanks for any insights or suggestions you have.


I would suggest you call your cable company to see what they offer. I believe digital cable can do what you’re looking for, but maybe not all providers offer the service.