Logitech Quick Cam Pro for Notebooks Review

Propane - 2007-08-12 18:50:43 in Digital Photography/Video
Category: Digital Photography/Video
Reviewed by: Propane   
Reviewed on: September 18, 2007
Logitech
Logitech
Price: USD 99.99

Introduction:

Telecommunications have been evolving at a very fast pace since the invention of the telegraph. A huge shock was when Bell gave the little beeps that we call morse code, a voice. Now another shock has quietly arrived. Logitech and other manufactures are giving that voice a face. Webcams aren't anything new, but they are beginning to get a lot better. The Logitech QuickCam Pro for Notebooks is no such exception. With the ability to take pictures up to eight megapixels and the ability to capture video at thirty frames per second, the QuickCam definitely gives its self some high expectations. Will it be able to meet these expectations in practice?

Logitech was founded in 1981 and has since become one of the leaders in computer peripheral manufacturing. Known mostly for its mice and keyboards, it has also expanded into the areas of headphones, headsets, webcams and media center remotes.

 

Closer Look:

The QuickCam Pro's packaging stays true to the standard Logitech coloring of green and a clear case that shows the product. The front of the box really doesn't show much off besides the webcam itself. The back, right side and bottom, list all the details of the product.  The box lists things like the thirty frames per second and eight megapixel capacity. There is also an icon indicating the webcam's capacity to work with several popular video conferencing tools, including MSN Messenger, AIM and Yahoo! Messenger. 

 

 

 

Closer Look:

Opening the box reveals some goodies that come with the webcam. A software packet and installation guide are present, along with a small desktop stand, for when you want to use the webcam with a laptop that's too thick or when you want to position it somewhere other than attached to your monitor. There is also a padded pouch that will let you take the QuickCam Pro on trips, while not risking its safety. The Quick Cam itself is not very big, coming in at about two inches by one inch. Also, the USB cable is very short, which is in line with the goal of the product - mobility. On the back of the webcam is a small clip that uses a spring to keep the webcam clasped onto the monitor or stand. Additionally, the cam is able to pivot with the clip as an axis. The cam also has a button that runs along the top of the webcam, allowing the ability to snap pictures without going through the hoops of the software.

 

 

The stand comes in three parts and is easily put together by pressing the pieces together. The base is weighted to reduce the chance that the webcam will fall over. Also, there is a recessed line that runs down the stand, allowing the USB cord to be hidden when the stand is being used. 

 

The webcam clips onto the flat panel of a laptop with ease. On my MacBook Pro (15 inch), the bottom part of the webcam dipped onto my screen area a little bit, making it slightly difficult to see the menu bars at the top of the screen. The clip was sturdy, while the webcam was easy to position.

 

Installation:

The installation is very straightforward. Plugging the device into a computer (Mac or PC) will let you use the webcam with a basic set of features. However, if you want the entire program set offered by Logitech, the software that is included must be installed before the device is plugged in. Keep reading to see how the install went.

Configuration:

The included software installs very simply. All that is needed to get the process rolling, is to insert the CD. The CD has an auto-run that comes up when you first insert the disc. Once you choose to install the hardware, the software will prompt you to check for updates.  

 

 

 

 

 

The install will prompt you to accept a EULA and also prompt you to activate your product.

 

 

When the software is completely installed, it will ask you to plug in the webcam. When it sees that the webcam is pluged in, it will give you the view from it, to make sure that it is the correct one (if you have more than one attached) and will then let you know that the process is complete and that you can use your webcam.

 

 

Configuration:

Audio Tuning Wizard:

Now that the software is installed, the webcam can be configured to suit your needs. The Audio Tuning Wizard asks certain questions about how your computer is set up and has you adjust your volume, so that the microphone that is part of the webcam will work properly.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Audio Tuning Wizard will even let you know if you set your volume at an acceptable level, by using a small red dot that turns red if you are too loud. When you are finished with the wizard, it will let you know.

 

Configuration:

QuickCam Toolbar:

The QuickCam Toolbar is loaded with a lot of features. The primary use is to take images and video. However, when I first started it up, it noticed that the lighting in my room was strange and asked if I would like to enable an enhancement called "RightLight". I went ahead and enabled it because, well, it looked a lot better than with it disabled. In the preview pane itself, a drop down list of image size (or quality) is present. The selector allows you to select video from VGA to HD quality and images from 1.3 Megapixel to 8 Megapixel. The size of the preview image does its best to match the real resolution that is selected by the user, allowing you to get a better sense of what the final picture or video might look like.

 

 

 

 

The pull-out bars next to the 'take image' buttons, allow you to fine-tune the settings to help you get the exact result you want.

 

 

The options pane further allows you to control how every little piece of the webcam operates, right down to the operation of the LED on the front of it (that lets you know it's on).

 

 

 

 

 

Working with other programs:

The QuickCam Pro also has the option to interface with many other programs. A simple pull-out menu in the QuickCam Toolbar allows you to select from several different programs that you can use for video conferencing. There is also the option for you to upload video to online auctions, YouTube and more. Even if another program is needed for the webcam to be able to interface right, the QuickCam Toolbar will give you the download link, making life simple.

 

 

Specifications:

Technical Specifications:

System Requirments (XP):

System Requirments (Vista):

Package Contents:

Testing:

The testing of this webcam was performed by simply using it and then getting people's reactions, as well as taking multiple pictures of a standard item to see the quality differences. The QuickCam Pro software was installed on the PC and the comparison images taken were from the Photo Booth (and compared to the iSight on the MacBook Pro).

Testing Setup (PC):

Testing Setup (MacBook Pro):

To start the PC testing, I took images of a flag at all resolutions available. Below are the sample images that I took (from 1.3 to 4 megapixels - 8 megapixles was too large for the site mechanics). As can be seen, quality seems to go up from 1.3 to 2, but then the image, while getting larger, just seems to be getting grainier. This is probably due to the fact that the camera has only a 2MP sensor, meaning anything above that is going to be interpolated, or not actual data captured by the camera.

 

 

 

 

Comparison:

Not wanting to only compare the QuickCam Pro to itself, I also fired up the iSight on my Mac. Although there was no software installed, the Mac picked up that there was a camera and set it to be used as the default inside of Photo Booth. I took image captures at the default settings since I was unable to alter the settings on the Mac. As can be seen, the image quality of the QuickCam Pro is a lot better. Colors are more vibrant and video is smoother. This lays waste to the built-in competition without looking back. The first one is the QuickCam and the second is the iSight. The flash from the Mac's software hurt the image quality a little on both pictures, but they are still pretty good representatives of the type of quality you would get out of them.

 

 

 

 

Practical Use:

A few things that are worthy of mention, although cannot be backed up with images, are the length of the USB cable and what other users thought of the quality. The USB cable is very short, measuring in at three feet. To use this with my desktop PC, I had to get an extension cord as the cam would barely reach my desk, let alone my monitor. When I used the cam to talk to people on MSN Messenger, I only recieved good words about how well the image came though and how well the sound also came though. However, when I used the iSight, people mentioned that it looked "duller" than the QuickCam Pro. Also, not all of the QuickCam Toolbar's features were available to me to use, most notably the video effects. I was able to browse Logitech's collection of faces, avatars and effects, but none of them would ever let me apply them. 

Conclusion:

The QuickCam Pro performed very well, providing a crisp picture and crisp sound. I was easily able to install and use the QuickCam Pro on both my PC and my MacBook Pro notebook computer. The only real letdowns of the entire product was the length of the cord, which wouldn't allow it to be used on my PC without an extra extension cord. However, it IS the QuickCam Pro for Notebooks, so this really is a small point. The camera comes with a pouch that allows it to be easily and safely transported when on the road and the people that are participating in video conferencing calls mention nothing but praise of the image quality. The included software makes getting started very easy and allows for more advanced users to change a myriad of settings. When compared with another webcam, in this case Apple's built-in iSight, the picture quality of the QuickCam was a significant improvement over the competition. The QuickCam Pro is a great product.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: