Amazingly High Quality Pictures and Video!
May 8, 2009
Review by Guy Techie
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Picture quality, high resolution, good autofocus system, can focus up close (macro), good audio pickup
Cons:Price (but well worth it)
The Bottom Line: If you need to show off really small things (even fine print in legal documents!), this is the web cam for you!
When someone says "web cam quality", we usually think about images that are grainy, under exposed, choppy video, and low resolutions. You really can't say that about Logitech's QuickCam Pro 9000!
Recommend this product?
The first thing you notice about this camera is it's price! Still going for $99 at most brick and mortar retail stores, you have to ask yourself: "why should I go with a $99 web cam when I can easily find others for $20 to $40?
Well, thankfully I didn't, but my company did. We recently deployed Microsoft Office Communicator to all of the IT departments (we have many departments within IT such as Help Desk and Networking, etc). We needed a way to convey things that a simple chat window just can't do. So we've also deployed web cams. For the first few we deployed, we used cheaper ball-shaped Logitech web cams, but recently, we've been deploying the QuickCam Pro 9000.
I knew about their reputations from online exposure, so when it was time for me to use one, I wanted get this particular web cam!
In the Box
Inside the box, the web cam itself is harder to remove than expected. Cardboard seem to have grown AROUND the camera, requiring me to cut it off to get to the camera! Other than that, a 6 feet long USB cable is permanently attached to the web cam itself.
There is a small cardboard box that is shaped to resemble a traditional CD jewel case, but opens up to reveal a quick guide, a user's guide, and a driver/software CD.
There is a sticker that covers the USB connector of the camera to remind you to install the software first before you plug in your camera. They are right! Windows XP, Vista, and even 7 (release canidate) did not see the camera at all when you plug it in! While other web cams do with Microsoft's generic driver.
I did so, and it was detected and installed without any issues. This not only install the driver, but also the entire software suite. I usually hate this, but the Logitech software is actually pretty nice to use.
Once installed, the Logitech software suite does come up and gets in your face. I hate this behavior as it comes up on every boot up. Why doesn't Logitech make it so it goes to the system tray?
You can play with the camera's auto focus, digital zoom, color and exposure settings, etc. The camera is highly configurable, which sets it apart from most of the inexpensive USB web cams.
Once detected, you can close the program (whch actually goes into the system tray), and open your favorite IM or chat program. Basically any program that recognizes a video capture device will be able to use the Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000 as usual.
When in use, there is an orange ring of light that indicates that you are being viewed. The camera does have a high-gain microphone built-in, as well as a trigger button for capturing stills when in programs that utilize it.
The camera can take videos as high as 960x720 resolution. You can take video also in 320x240 and 640x480. When taking photos, you are given the option for 1, 2, 3, 4, or 8 megapixels. The autofocus system is quick and adjusts in real-time, much like a handheld video camera. It can focus on objects as close as 10cm!
The software also lets you set where you want to auto focus on (not just in the center!), the digtal zooming, face tracking (a neat feature, but can be a bit weird to look at), and fun stuff like animating a cartoon or a photo to your facial expression and when you speak! It's a bit creepy, actually, but mostly for fun (I can't see anyone using that in a board meeting!). You an also wear a "mask", which follows your face! This proves that the software have a good facial tracking code. While that sound serious, having a pig's nose on your face (and it tracking you while you move around, making it look like you really own that nose) makes it seem less so!
The camera itself is made mostly for flat LCD screens. It does not look like there's any good way of placing it on a flat surface such as on a desk or on top of a CRT monitor. I find this disapointing, as such a high quality camera can also be used for survailence, but the limited mounting options curtails this use.
Picture, Video, and Sound
You can also see where your money goes by the results! Pictures and videos are sharp, while color is very rich and saturated. The resultant photos and videos look as if they were taken with a mid-range video or still camera! It's more than adaqute for YouTube, and actually looks like it was made for YouTube's new HQ mode! Even better, with some streaming video services like Vimeo offering 720p video, this camera looks like it would fit the bill for this kind of use!
Video is capture at 720p is still butter smooth! Sure it can't capture at 60 fps, but 30 fps is still considered full motion video.
You would think having the microphone all the way by the monitor would not sound all too hot, but Logitech proved me wrong! Despite of the distance, it sounds loud and clear on the other side! You can also record a few videos to see and hear what you're like through the eyes and ears of this camera! It can capture whispers as well!
The only con to this is that it can capture background noise easily as well if you're using it in a noisey cubical environment. I don't mean the indistinct talking around me, but like my own team who also work in the same cubical area as I do! The indistinct noise can be cut down by the Logitech software.
So what does $99 get you that a standard web can't provide? Firstly, the addictive software that comes with it! There's a lot of fun things to do with the camera, but it's not like you'd use it all the time. The other features (software based) such as face tracking and auto zooming can be useful when you move around more than the average person in a chair.
Secondly, the auto focus system is really nice and quick, and of course, don't forget the picture and video quality! Even at low resolution, the color saturation makes the non-grainy video makes it look 100x better than your standard cheap CMOS web cam!
If your purpose is just to get your face out to the world, any web cam can do. If you need the sharp picture that this camera can provide to show off products to potential clients or to show the fine print in your legal documents (yes, it can do that!), then the $99 is well worth the price!
In fact, I find you can get it for around $70 online, so even better!
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