Saturday, October 01, 2005

Logitech has better cameras - not animation

Now this is interesting. Logitech wants to sell a new generation of webcams that record video at 1.3 Megapixels and have noticeably improved audio (there is better echo cancelling software which is handy if you want to use Skype without headphones).

I just bought an older Webcam 4000 version in the UK and discovered it only took pictures at 1.3 Megapixels, video was just standard VGA. The problem in the PC World I was in (in Norwich) was that they clearly had a mixture of old and new stock. The Logitech packaging has the "specification icons" along the bottom of the packaging, rather than on the back where you tend to look first.

The new webcams for notebooks cost just under US$100 in the USA, 80 bucks for the Webcam 5000 designed for home desktop use.

Logitech have also just introduced a sort of animation gimmick called Logitech Video Effects, which looks like a crude version of the Talking Headz idea from (see the IBC 2005 report lower down). It is a first time that a webcam manufacturer has adopted this technology. But, contrary to Logitech's "first-of-its-kind" claims, Gizmoz was the first to launch the concept via MSN and other chat networks. Actually, it would be great if the two would work together. Gizmoz makes the better animation software. And Logitech are clearly ahead with their cameras.

I think the quality of the audio on these new webcams is worth investigating for live radio reporters. I keep a webcam with the laptop as a back-up. And video conferencing is going to become as important as the Skype conferencing. It really is "plug and play".