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Logitech QuickCam Ultra Vision
Company: Logitech
Website: http://www.logitech.com
MSRP: $129.99
Review By: Andre Da Costa

Introduction

For years video web cams have been available to anyone who needed such functionality, even in pre-broadband times. I was always interested in getting one, but certain factors always got the best of me. I either donít have appropriate hardware, too complicated to setup, no one to chat with and lack lustre software. But itís 2007 and the more you interact with people online, the more you want to go beyond basic text based chatting. This is especially true if you have close family and friends who are far away and you would like to see them every now and then. With the pervasiveness of broadband Internet, the user experience has also been greatly enhanced, for that you get better video calls in addition to more attractive functionality that goes beyond video based chat sessions.

Features:

True 1.3 megapixel sensor with RightLight 2 Technology

Live video: up to 640 x 480 pixels

Still image capture: True 1280 x 960; Up to 4 Megapixel *(software enhanced)

Built-in microphone with RightSound Technology

Up to 30 frames per second live video with recommended system

USB 2.0 high-speed certified 6 ft. USB cable

2-year limited hardware warranty

Adjustable base fits any monitor or notebook

Fixed focus

Applications for Windows:

Logitech QuickCam (easily capture, save, and email your web cameraís pictures and videos)

Logitech Video Effects avatar and face accessory software

HP Photosmart Essential Software (web download required)

Skype with free, full screen video calling

Windows Live Messenger with free full screen video calling

Yahoo Messenger with free video calling

Video enabled AOL Instant Messenger Service

For years video web cams have been available to anyone who needed such functionality, even in pre-broadband times. I was always interested in getting one, but certain factors always got the best of me. I either donít have appropriate hardware, too complicated to setup, no one to chat with and lack lustre software. But itís 2007 and the more you interact with people online, the more you want to go beyond basic text based chatting. This is especially true if you have close family and friends who are far away and you would like to see them every now and then. With the pervasiveness of broadband Internet, the user experience has also been greatly enhanced, for that you get better video calls in addition to more attractive functionality that goes beyond video based chat sessions.

Setup

Installation was pretty much uneventful, but suffered from too many wizard pages; something I have noticed when installing Logitech products in particular, this case was a four step process. But, I just wish Logitech had toned down on the configuration processes. I want an experience similar to connecting a Keyboard or Mouse or at least strive to be. Before connecting the QuickCam Ultra Vision I ran setup from the provided Installation Disk. I chose a typical installation which provided me with the essential software to work with Windows Vista. In addition to Vista, the QuickCam also supports Windows 2000 and XP. At the end of the initial phase of the installation, I was asked to Insert the QuickCamís USB connector. Next up was a dry test run which detected the Camera and displayed a preview video. The first problem I noticed immediately was jerky video, because the table on which I was reviewing from was a bit shaky so, a video/image stabilizer would have come in handy. After this last step, setup was complete from what I could tell.

No it wasnít, next was configuration, which I consider to be a part of the installation. The Logitech Audio Tuning Wizard began, this part focused on tuning the devices audio settings for optimal use. After eight pages, I was ready to now use the QuickCam Ultra Vision. Not so fast, one last hurdle popped up, a dialog appeared asking if I would like to enable RightLight Technology which adjusts the web cams lighting in different environments, whether dark or bright.

USAGE

QuickCam Quick Capture

After installing and configuring, the QuickCam Quick Capture application started which is a similar application to Apple Inc. Photo Booth software. The software provides a number of nifty features such as taking a photo and recording video. Captured video and photos are immediately stored in the Gallery which you can easily minimize for convenience or open pictures in your default photo application. Other handy options include emailing, printing and deleting. The Logitech QuickCam floating toolbar list links to other features such as an Avatar gallery you can use to replace your face in a video with an animated character. I had some problems calibrating my face to work with the provided Avatar, but it should be fun for kids who like to do that sort of thing.

Privacy Shade

Replaces your background with a stock photo, such as an image of the beach so you can fool your colleagues or some other nature based background. There are numerous images to choose from and you can add your own with little effort. I never got this one working properly either, but then again, I really didnít care that much. Itís something do with the lighting in my room or the calibration of my head I guess.

Web Cam Settings

Provided are a plethora of options for adjusting the QuickCamís settings, some of these included are Pan and Tilt, Zoom, Fast Tracking, and various lighting adjustments. Other tools include Volume and Speaker, Lighting effects using the RightLight Technology for fixing poor lighting environments, Exposure, Gain, AntiFlicker, Image Orientation and Camera Selector. Application Preferences allows you to select your default video calling application, I chose Windows Live Messenger since the majority of my friends and family use that, but you can also use Yahoo! or AOL AIM if those are installed on your system. Other options include default email client which is strangely enough set to CorelCENTRAL Mail, but provides other popular choices such as Windows Live Mail, Office Outlook, Windows Mail and Yahoo! Mail. You can also set storage options for captured images or video.

Video Calling Applications

The Logitech QuickCam Ultra Vision supports a wide variety of services, I previously mentioned AOL, Yahoo! and Windows Live Messenger, along with these, users can also use Skype, and Logitechís own VideoCall which you have to download separately. If you want to do more with Video, tools for Blogging, Sharing and Podcasting are also available such as Googleís YouTube, Grouper and Logitechís Mobile Video. A very nice feature I noticed while going through the Video based tools option, the Quick Cam provides access to tools you can already take advantage of that are installed on your system. For instance, video Editing Tools HP Photosmart Essential is provided as an option to download, but you can readily use the Windows Moviemaker application that comes built into Windows Vista. Video Snap which you can use to capture footage of an item you plan to sell on eBay so in addition to the bland still photograph you are accustomed to seeing in eBay listings, you can add a video to provide some pizzazz.

Working with Instant Messaging

The next logical step was to test it out over Instant Messenger. To start using Live Messenger for Video and Audio, a setup wizard was launched when I clicked the Start or Stop a video call button on the contacts conversation window. After adjusting my hardware, the video session began. There was nothing spectacular about it, but I notice the video quality was not that riveting, but was fluid and acceptable. That was pretty much it to be honest with you. There were no issues throughout the chat session. I notice that the recipients viewing quality was not that picture quality although I was receiving a much clearer picture from the other end.

Design

The QuickCam Ultra Vision has a unique design thatís considerably modern and functional. I used the Ultra Vision with a notebook; it was mounted on the laptops display panel, but almost seemed unstable. It just did not feel secure; the advertised ďFlexible clipĒ did not conform to the laptops ridge although the packaging says it works with any monitor. If you are unsure about placing it on top of your monitor, you can also place it on a desk and align the camera lens to see your face.

Apart from being a traditional web cam, you can take up to 4.0 Mega pixel resolution photos; the default is set to 320 x 240 which is appropriate for emailing. If you want to achieve more high quality output you can click the Select Image Size list box which provides a number of sizes such as 960 x 720 (Hi-Definition video) and up to 2304 x 1728 for photos. I still didnít find the results for the 4 MP photos that impressive, the colour was a bit shabby and washed out, in comparison to my Canon A520 digital camera which produces crystal clear photos with richer colours. Both sides of the camera have buttons for taking photos and video, the middle of the camera has a built in microphone along with the Activity Light button.

Conclusion

How It Grades
Installation: 79%
Ease Of Use: 86%
Features: 86%
Options
: 95%
Design: 95%
Manual: 95%
Price: 90%
Overall: 89%

The Logitech QuickCam Ultra Vision is nice, just the ability to see the person on the other end is a great treat, especially if itís someone you have not seen in ages. Although the video capabilities were not impressive, I feel it was more a result of my connection which is kind of slow by DSL standards. But going beyond just video chat sessions, I was pleased with the web cams range of capabilities. The QuickCam software provides nifty features such as the ability to record video so you can easily setup a Podcast and post a video to your blog or on popular services such as YouTube or MSN Soapbox. The tight integration with the Windows Vista operating system gives you choices to experiment and utilize existing technologies built into the OS such as Windows Photo Gallery and Windows Movie Maker. Although I do not consider supporting specific Instant Messaging services a feature any typical web cam should be able to do that, its nice to know it confidently supports the various services available. If you are interested in purchasing a web cam, this is definitely a recommended choice to look at.

Specs & Package
Overall Score 89%
Version Reviewed Logitech QuickCam Ultra Vision
Release Date Out Now
The Good Points

Compact Modern Design thatís flexible and adjustable

Certified for Windows Vista integrates well with existing technologies built in to the OS such as Windows Photo Gallery and Moviemaker.

Supports a wide range of online and instant messaging services.

Adjustable Camera Lens

Snapshot and Quick Video Buttons

QuickCam Capture Software Ė Avatar and face accessory software

Good focus technology

Certified Windows Vista

The Bad Points

Flexible rubber clip does look or feel 100% secure when fitted on top of LCD monitors such as Notebook computers

Installation and configuration phases are bit too much; I just want to start using the device as quickly as possible.

4 Mega pixel photo qualities are not that impressive.

System Requirements

Windows 2000, Windows XP Pentium 4 1.4 Ghz or AMD Athlon 1.6GHz processor (Pentium 4 2.4 GHz recommended) 128 MB RAM (256 recommended).

Windows Vista Ė Pentium 4 2.4 GHz (2.8 GHz recommended), 512 MB of RAM (1 GB recommended)

200 MB hard disk space

CD-ROM drive

16-Bit color display adapter

OS Compatible Sound Card and Spears

1.1 or 2.0 USB port

Recommended system requirements are needed to use Logitech RightSound or RightLight 2 technology features.

 

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