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Logitech stakes new claim among high-end webcams

Logitech stakes new claim among high-end webcams

Leading the recently launched range of seven new Logitech webcams is the C905 – the portable cousin of the Pro 9000 (with the latter designed for desktops).

The C905 has the traits of a premium webcam and lives up to Logitech’s reputation for quality peripherals. It has a Carl Zeiss lens with a 2MP sensor that allows you to shoot HD video in 720 pixel widescreen, and to generate still images at up to 8MP (with enhancement by the sensor).

The price reflects that it is a premium device – locally the C905 costs $199.95.

To ensure quality HD video, Logitech recommends you have broadband internet with 256 kb per second upload or more, and that your Mac or PC has a dual core processor. It says your processor should be a minimum of 1GHz, and preferably 2GHz, if you’re running XP with service pack 2, with 512MB of RAM recommended for XP, Vista or Windows 7.

The camera’s design is practical – with a clip wide enough to hook the camera onto thicker monitors, and a hinge for accurate angling. However, the 910mm USB cord is a little on the short side if you want it to go behind a desk or around the back of a screen, so a USB extender may be needed.

Useful additions in the box are a three-piece desktop stand (which can be dismantled for portability) and a soft carry case.

The C905 looks like a chunkier version of the long, thin design used in Microsoft’s Lifecam Show, which is also meant to sit on a desktop stand. The front is brushed silver metal, framed in black plastic around the side and back, including the hinge and clip.

Although the camera will work with most instant messaging programmes, the C905 is one model that comes with Logitech’s Vid software for video calling.

The vendor’s aim with Vid (which was developed as a result of its acquisition of Sightspeed videoconferencing technology) is to make it simple to set up and chat to contacts via video.

Logitech achieves this aim. When you install the software, you create a Vid account, and can choose to let the camera capture your best side for a profile picture. It will then detect your speakers, webcam and microphone. You then add contacts based on their email address. Users can even record a practice call to test image and sound quality prior to their first real call.

Following that, you can opt to have Vid automatically answer your calls, as well as reduce noise and adjust volume.

The Vid interface is easy to use, with large, self-explanatory icons. Contacts are shown by photo and users click on the picture to initiate a video call. While the call is taking place, you can mute sound or switch to a full screen.

If you have not bought a Logitech webcam, or are not a contact of someone who owns one, you can download the Vid application free to use for 30 days.

The proprietary webcam software (v1.0) provides a good range of avatars, animations, filters and effects.

Image quality is fine at each setting for still images, and the same is true for video at each setting (beginning at VGA 640 x 480 resolution and extending up to 1600 x 1200).

The vendor’s Right Light technology helped to brighten up images by automatically adjusting exposure – for the review the webcam was set up in a dimly lit room.

The webcam also has a built-in microphone and autofocus. Sound lacked depth, though this can be attributed to the test PC’s low-quality speakers.

The C905 is quick to set up and works without hassle. It is a classy peripheral combined with software that’s easy to use. The trade off is the price tag, which is on the high side for webcams.


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