Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000

ajmatson - 2007-08-10 13:54:55 in Digital Photography/Video
Category: Digital Photography/Video
Reviewed by: ajmatson   
Reviewed on: September 10, 2007
Logitech
Logitech
Price: $99.99

Introduction:

In today's world there are so many families that are far apart, either living in different areas or away for business travel. There are also many times when that critical business meeting needs to take place, but you might be half way around the globe. What can you do? Never again will you have to hop on a plane or drive hundreds of miles to see that loved one or critical business partner. Just plug in your webcam and you can have a live video conference any time. Not into video conferencing? Then how about making that video podcast of you and your friends and posting it online. All of this can be accomplished with one easy tool; a webcam. What is a webcam, you ask? It is a peripheral for your computer that takes live video or still images and transfers them across the net, like making a phone call that you can see. This inexpensive tool can save your business or simply create a little comfort in your life.

Logitech International was founded in 1981 in Switzerland and started out manufacturing computer mice. Now it has broadened into a company that helps the consumer "enjoy a better experience with the digital world." According to Logitech, it has "expanded our expertise in product design beyond the computer mouse, with a broad portfolio of interface devices that are the “last inch” between you and your computer or your console game, digital music or home-entertainment system."

 

Closer Look:

This webcam comes packaged in the traditional Logitech black and green colors, but has a more futuristic look to it. It displays the webcam right in front so you can see it before you make up your mind on purchasing it. The right hand side highlights the features of the cam and the back shows what the webcam's software can do.

 

 

Closer Look:

Most webcams have a round shape and a stand. This one takes a whole different approach so that it is installable on all types of monitors and LCD screens, and is at eye level so you don't have to look down and away from the screen. There is a button on the left hand side to take a quick snap shot without having to run the QuickCam software. The clip is not a normal spring-loaded clip, but rather a manual clip, making it adaptable for any flat display.

 

 

 

 

The QuickCam is USB 2.0 for faster transfers and smooth video. Included is the QuickCam Pro 9000, the manual and the driver cd, required to run the QuickCam.

  

Installation:

To install the QuickCam Pro 9000, all you need is a flat display or laptop screen and an available USB port. Just set the webcam on top of the display and manually close the arm bar all the way to hold up the cam. Plug the cord into the USB port and Windows will install generic drivers for basic video. To get the full use of the webcam you need to install the software that came with the cam.

Configuration:

If your webcam is plugged in, then you need to unplug it prior to installing the software. Once you place the cd into your drive, the software will automatically start the configuration and installation process. Once you select your language the software will automatically search to see if a newer version is available before it starts the installation.

 

 

 

 

 

Once the software goes thru the install process, it will ask you to plug in the USB connector of the cam. If done correctly, video will begin to show in the box. If you have the video, then click "Next" to continue. If not, then unplug it and try again. After clicking "Next," it will present you with a congratulations screen allowing you to view the read me file.

 

 

Configuration:

Audio Tuning Wizard:

The audio tuning wizard is a tool that lets you find the best placement for the speakers in relation to the built-in microphone in the webcam. This wizard also lets you set up the microphone sensitivity and the speaker strength, to have a perfect balance between the two so they do not interrupt each other.

 

 

 

 

 

Configuration:

QuickCam Toolbar:

The QuickCam Toolbar gives you options to improve your webcam experience. The first tab on the toolbar lets you choose video effects, like an avatar with facial expressions and movement. You can also add extras like mustaches, wigs, masks, and other fun things that are superimposed over your image.  

 

 

 

Next is the Privacy Shade tab. The privacy shade will cover the video with any image that you choose so that people watching will know you are away.  You may also use it to place ads or anything else you wish, if you need to pause your podcast.

 

The settings icon allows you to select the settings that are right for you. Here you can adjust the exposure, audio settings, face tracking, RightLight feature, and more. This will allow you to get the maximum video or picture resolution possible.

 

 

 

The application button extends the use of your webcam for so many more possibilities. This gets you blogging, talking on Skype, uploading to YouTube, and more.

 

 

 

The two gadgets available for download from Logitech are a "QuickCapture Gadget" that lets you record video and take pics without starting the QuickCam software, and an intrusion "Motion Detector Gadget" that lets you set to record when there is motion in front of the cam as a type of security system.

 

 

The final setting is the ability to adjust the resolution of the cam. The QuickCam 9000 Pro will take video from 320x240 to HD Video at 960x720 and picture sizes from 1.3 megapixels to 8 megapixels. The native resolution of the cam is 2 megapixels, but the cam will interpolate the image to make the larger sizes.

 

Specifications:

System Requirements:

Windows® XP

Windows Vista™

 

Hardware:

 

Package Contents:

Testing:

For the testing portion of this review I wanted to capture the every day use aspect of it. The three categories I tested were image capturing, video calls, and the visual effects that the device makes available during use. I will also test the use of the cam with external web sites such as YouTube, to see how well the webcam does.

 

Testing Setup:

 

Image Capture:

To test the image capturing ability, I took pictures in all of the resolutions that the camera offers. The resolutions are in order 1.3 megapixels, 2 megapixels, 3 megapixels, 4 megapixels, and 8 megapixels.

 

 

 

Video Calls:

I tested the video calls feature by having a conference call using Yahoo messenger. Yahoo easily picked up the webcam and started it for use. I connected my associate who was using the Logitech QuickCam 5000 so that there was true two-way communication. The video was clear on his end of me and the sound was exactly matched, not delayed like I have seen in some webcams. The face tracking adjusted, following me if I moved closer or away and was crisp enough for him to see text I was writing on a project board behind where I was sitting.

Visual Effects:

The software also includes the visual effects for a little fun. Visual effects transposes an avatar, which is an animated character, over your face or places add-ons, like wigs and other fun stuff, over your face to give your pics and videos a humorous side. This was fun to play around and mess with. The additions will track your movement and facial expressions.

 

 

Testing:

Lastly, I used the cam to make and upload a video to three different sites. I used the lowest video setting of 320x240 and the HD setting of 960x720. The three sites were YouTube, Crackle (formerly Grouper), and VideoSnap (which is for selling on sites like eBay). 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the testing, I compared the two settings and the Logitech QuickCam 5000 in ease of making the video, quality prior to uploading, and quality after uploading to online sites. All scores are on a scale of one to one hundred and the higher is better.

 

 

 

The ease of use was the same since the software that drives them are similar. The HD video of the QuickCam Pro 9000 was by far superior to the lower quality of the two (the QuickCam 5000 only does low resolution video). As far as the uploaded video, they came in the same because all of the sites resample the video to save on space and faster play rates. It would have been nice to upload and play HD video, but this is no way the fault of the QuickCam, which performed flawlessly.

Conclusion:

The QuickCam Pro 9000 performed spectacular even at higher video resolutions. However, the picture quality did start to get grainy at the higher resolutions. This could be because they interpolate and are not the native resolution of the lens. It was very easy to use and operate this camera, and the setup and configuration were a breeze. This would be a great camera for anyone from a first time user to a tech savvy person. You could send this camera to an associate or a family member and in no time you could be making a video call that is much more meaningful than a simple phone conversation. This makes it easy to keep in touch without the expense of travel. Perfect to unite a world far apart.

 

Pros:

 

 Cons: