Logitech QuickCam Ultra Vision
- 17 January, 2007 15:51
The Logitech QuickCam Ultra Vision is the highest quality and most expensive webcam in the Logitech product line up. Thankfully, the image quality makes it easily one of the best webcams we've seen and the audio and visual tweaks offered in the bundled software make video chat or vlogging a pleasurable, user-friendly experience.
Logitech attributes the image quality to the fixed focus lens (which they claim contains five precision engineered components) and the 1.3 megapixel sensor. The camera can support video resolutions up to 640x480 pixels at 30 frames per second and still images of up to 4 megapixels. The result is reasonably smooth video while recording or engaging in a video conference. There is some lag and jerkiness in the image at times but compared to other webcams we've reviewed, the Ultra Vision suffered from this the least.
We tested the camera with Windows Live Messenger and it worked beautifully with smooth video, so long as the subject didn't make any fast movements such as waving hands. We also tested the camera on Skype and Yahoo Messenger with the same results. We also used the new Quick Capture feature on YouTube.com to post a vlog on-the-fly. The result was reasonable, but the frame rate dropped to a point where the video was too slow and digital artefacts began to appear, so it could definitely be improved.
The bundled software comes with software called QuickCam. This is the gateway to using the specialised plug-ins and the image and audio correction technologies that make this model stand apart from the rest. To provide the best image possible, Logitech have created a technology they call "Rightlight 2" which corrects lighting problems. The built-in microphone also uses a similarly named technology called "RightSound" which cuts out echo and background noise to produce the cleanest sound possible.
Like other Logitech products, the QuickCam software also comes with some fun features such as face tracking, animated 3D avatars and video effects. For the most part these are novelties but the 3D avatar feature is definitely worth checking out. In addition to the included 3D characters there are others available for download as well. When setting up the program to use the avatar function, the camera is given points of reference on your face that it translates into movements on the 3D character model. When you smile, the on-screen character smiles as well. The range of emotions is limited but it is certainly an odd and fascinating experience nonetheless.
The cylindrical design is rather attractive with chrome silver on one side and a white finish on the other. Each side of the unit has a single button which is used for quick image Snapshot on the left and to open the QuickCam software on the right. We found these buttons to be a little flimsy and they also tended to get jammed every now and then. This camera is designed to sit on the top of your monitor and comes with a fairly heavy base to allow the camera to be mounted on top. This works very well and remarkably enough is actually rather sturdy. The provided cable from the camera to the PC is six feet long which makes it useful for those using their TVs in a media centre lounge room. Finally, the device is compatible with Windows 98. 2000, XP and even Windows Vista, making it a sound investment for those concerned about future proofing.
There are a few minor problems with this camera but they shouldn't stop you picking up this excellent webcam, should you have the budget.