Since I have several friends who live abroad, and chat with them regularly, I needed to purchase a webcam. I was initially confused by the plethora of models available in the market today. I considered buying webcams from Creative, Microsoft and Logitech, before settling for the Logitech Quick Cam for Notebooks Pro.
Factors that tilted my decision towards the Logitech included the excellent design and build, as well as the built-in microphone, the 1.3 megapixel camera, and the $20 rebate at the time. I purchased this webcam from Amazon.com for about $60 after rebate, which is a relatively high price for a webcam.
In this review, I will discuss some of the main features and functionality of this webcam.
Build and Design
This was one the main factors that led me to buy this webcam. The build quality is awesome. Its brushed aluminum finish and rectangular shape represent a welcome departure from the more conventional eyeball shaped webcam designs.
It is similar in size to a typical USB drive. Its small size makes it very portable, an important factor to consider while purchasing a webcam for notebooks. Its precise dimensions are 2-3/8 inches tall, less than an inch wide and 3/8 inches deep.
There is a blue LED light at the top of the unit, to indicate that the unit is active (recording video or taking pictures).
Attached to the USB cord is a Velcro band, which is extremely useful for securely winding the cord when not in use. Speaking of the cord, I find it to be a tad short. Users of large desktop-replacement notebooks may find it problematic to fix the webcam on top of the screen, depending on the placement of the USB ports.
The Logitech QuickCam for Notebooks Pro (view large image)
Front View (view large image)
Side View (view large image)
A Samsung Blade, the QuickCam and a Sony Micro Vault (view large image)
The mounting clip behind the camera can be attached to monitors 6 to 16mm wide. The mounting clip may not fit all notebooks, especially those with a thick screen, like some of the IBM Thinkpads. This may cause the webcam to slip and fall off, of such notebooks. It does however, stay put on my HP Pavilion dv8000t notebook. The clip also helps the webcam stand by itself on a level surface, which makes it suitable for use with desktop computers as well.
The QuickCam attached to my HP Pavilion dv8000t notebook screen (view large image)
Installation was a breeze. Basically, you just plug in the webcam to an available USB port on your notebook, download the latest driver from the Logitech website and you are good to go. Chat software such as Yahoo! Messenger and Skype, instantly recognize the webcam and work seamlessly with it.
The 1.3 mp sensor provides fluid video and can take decent pictures as well. This webcam features Logitech's RightLight technology, which provides true-to-life video images under any light conditions, including low light. Skin tones are accurately reproduced, much better than other webcams I've used in the past. Various image settings, such as Brightness, Contrast, Sharpness, Gamma correction, etc. can be changed to suit the ambient lighting conditions.
Various Image/Video/Audio Settings
The following picture was taken at 1.3 megapixel resolution, with bright morning sunlight streaming into the room.
In bright morning sunlight (view large image)
Two features that I find to be particularly helpful are the Low Light Boost and Color Boost functions. The pictures below illustrate these features.
without Low Light Boost (view large image)
with Low Light Boost (view large image)
Without Color Boost (view large image)
With Color Boost (view large image)
Video can be captured at 160x120, 320x240 and 640x480 resolutions. The 15-second clip below was taken at 320x240 resolution.
A 15-second clip featuring my HP dv8000t notebook
A feature that I really like is the Face Tracking. The sensor can intelligently track the face of a person during a video conversation. Thus the person does not have to remain in one position to be seen at the other end, and can always remain in the field of view. However, I notice that this face tracking feature is effective only in well lit conditions.
The field of view is another distinguishing feature of this webcam. It features a 78 degree field of view, meaning, more people can be fit in.
One rather serious issue with this webcam is that it gets extremely hot; so hot that I am quite concerned about a possible meltdown of the component hardware and/or electronics inside the webcam. But it does not seem to affect performance so far. In fact, due to its diminutive size, I now think that the metal body was designed to efficiently conduct heat away.
The built-in microphone is awesome. I can talk from as much as ten feet away without a headset, and it still picks my voice clearly, without any echo or distortion. This webcam features Logitech's RightSound technology, which effectively cancels echo, thus delivering crisp audio through the speakers. And more importantly, this liberates me from using a headset during a video chat session.
Over Voice chat, the best method to gauge the quality of a microphone is to hear people (who live in other continents) telling you that you sound loud and clear. Initially I was quite skeptical about the effectiveness of a built in microphone. But, till date, no one has complained about lack of audio clarity.
Logitech has included its Video Effects software. This allows the user to create his/her unique avatar, which can mimic facial expressions and movements, during a video conversation. It does this by tracking several key points on the face and translating them into expressions for the avatar. Face accessories are also available (anything from sunglasses to sombrero hats and diving masks) that can also be added to the image, to modify the look of the person. But, this software is something of a resource hog and can only be successfully used on more powerful computers.
A screenshot of me, using the Video Effects software (view large image)
I personally feel that that the Video Effects software is nothing more than a novelty, something that can be used by people with a lot of time on their hands, or kids wanting to impress their friends.
Logitech also includes its QuickCam software, used for changing image settings, as well as taking pictures and videos. The QuickCam software interface is simple and intuitive.
QuickCam software interface - QuickCapture
I do not use any of the Logitech software, since like many of us, I prefer a lean boot up, with a minimal number of programs/processes running in the background.
Supplied accessories include a rigid, crush-resistant travel case and a single earphone with microphone, for private conversations, as opposed to using speakers.
The travel case is well built, but I had a hard time fitting the web cam and the earphone, into the case.
The QuickCam with its travel case (view large image)
The supplied earphone (view large image)
The QuickCam and its headphone, in the travel case (view large image)
The webcam also comes with a 2 year limited warranty.
This webcam works well with several chat programs such as Skype, Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger. It is a cute little webcam, and aside from the heat issue, I find it to be one of the best webcams out there, and a perfect solution to Voice/Video chatting.
Thanks for reading my review. Let me know if you have any questions that I could answer.