Logitech’s QuickCam Vision Pro Makes iChat Awesome [updated] | iLounge Backstage

Backstage

Logitech’s QuickCam Vision Pro Makes iChat Awesome [updated]

Author's pic

By Jeremy Horwitz

Editor-in-Chief, iLounge
Published: Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Backstage Categories:

I am genuinely excited. Very excited. Following Apple’s abrupt discontinuation of the iSight web camera—and its lack of a replacement option—I’ve been struggling to find a good iChat-ready desktop video camera to pair with my Apple Cinema Display when my MacBook Pro is closed and docked on my desk. Though I have temporary use of an old iSight, I was planning to just replace the Cinema Display with a newer, bigger one as soon as Apple got around to releasing a model with an integrated camera. That may just have become unnecessary. Logitech’s new Mac-specific QuickCam Vision Pro ($130) web cam just arrived at iLounge, and it so completely puts the iSight to shame that my monitor replacement plans are now on hold. I’ll summarize the difference in two photos, then continue with a bunch more (and details) in the full story. Click on the headline for the rest.

The difference is stark. Jesse Hollington told me in a video chat that my stream looked “great.” No one ever says that about the iSight—including the newer version built into my MacBook Pro. Updated: I’ve run the QuickCam Vision Pro through a collection of new audio and video tests, with results at the end of this article.

QuickCam Vision Pro is packaged as simply as possible. The unit consists of a 2.0-Megapixel, Carl Zeiss-lensed camera with an autofocus lens, intelligent brightness, contrast, and color balance adjustment feature, and integrated microphone. You connect it with a single USB cable to your computer or monitor, then use built-in plastic balancing tools to mount it on the monitor’s top.

There are fewer pieces to worry about than the iSight, which kept getting quietly revised over and over again with different monitor mounts, magnetic clips, and other pieces designed to stand it up or place it somewhere. Here, hinges in the gray plastic back flex to form a light clamp on the monitor, and the size adjusts for whatever thickness of desktop display you might have. We’re going to have to see how it does with the iMac G4 and an older Studio Display, but so far, so good.

Here it is next to the iSight, which we keep mounted with a now-discontinued gooseneck stand. It’s not as sexy as Apple’s design, but it’s by no means bad-looking; the colors are nice, and Logitech’s use of both metal and metallic plastics looks pretty sharp. A white light ring around the Logitech logo illuminates when the camera’s in use.

Front-facing size is the single most conspicuous physical difference between the two cameras. Logitech orients everything from left to right, while Apple’s tube is narrower but deep, with the microphone behind the lens. Neither is even close to the tiny, current-generation integrated iSights in size, but at least Logitech has an excuse: the components inside are dramatically better. That Carl Zeiss lens? The 1600x1200 max camera sensor inside? They make a big difference in gathering light and rendering clean images.

Simply put, the field of vision covered by the QuickCam Vision Pro at the same distance as the iSight is hugely superior. The QuickCam covers a room, iSight a head, and even in the bandwidth- and resolution-capped iChat environment, the QuickCam’s rendition of images is more detailed and far better color-balanced. It’s like comparing muddy and clear water, the sort of difference that matters even more if you are trying to record video from your desktop. In addition to serving as a 30fps iChat webcam, QuickCam Vision Pro can be used with Skype, Photo Booth, and other applications; it can also let you record 720p video with the right programs.

Updated: I ended the previous article with a promise to return with more test-based impressions of the QuickCam Vision Pro. Here they are.

Audio: Good news. I had four microphones on my desk: my MacBook Pro’s internal microphone, the separate iSight’s internal microphone, the QuickCam’s internal microphone, and Blue’s Snowflake, previously covered on Backstage. During a series of audio tests, the QuickCam’s internal microphone—once its default volume setting was brought down—was able to very closely approximate the sound quality of the dedicated, impressive microphone in the Snowflake, so long as these two microphones were at the same distance from where I was sitting. Both of these microphones sounded tremendously better to my video chat listener (the picky Jesse Hollington) than the standalone iSight’s, and of course, all three sounded better than the fan-plagued internal mic on the MacBook Pro.

However, and not surprisingly, the Snowflake was the best of the bunch for audio, as it has no camera and thus could be brought much closer to where I was seated. In so doing, it more or less completely eliminated echo from my audio, and delivered a smooth, balanced version of my voice. According to Jesse, the QuickCam’s rendition of my voice was very comparable at the same distance, but more “hollow-sounding” when the Snowflake was closer. The iSight’s and MacBook’s mics were hollow at all times, with much less impressive echo and noise cancellation.

It’s worth reiterating that the QuickCam’s internal mic benefitted from a brief initial adjustment in Mac OS X’s System Preferences. Since there’s no software to install and the device works right after plugging it into any USB port, manual adjustments can be made after installation if your listeners find the volume level too high. In my testing, the unit’s default input level was at 86%, and I was able to get the highly-sensitive mic to sound very much like the Snowflake by turning its volume down to literally 4% on Apple’s slider scale. When the volume was up, the quality suffered, but the mic’s gain rendered my voice extremely easy to hear even at a distance from the monitor. Playing with the level achieved a better balance of volume and fidelity.

Video: We tried three different cameras—two versions of iSight (the standalone and the one inside a recent Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro)—and the results were pretty much as expected. Even when limited by iChat, the best performer of the bunch was the QuickCam Vision Pro, which Jesse observed as yielding more accurate colors and more apparent detail in every frame. While the more recent MacBook Pro iSight uses an updated sensor with a higher maximum resolution (1.3-Megapixel) than the standalone version’s, neither one delivers the sort of crisp images that come off of the QuickCam. In bright lighting, our MacBook Pro’s images looked a little sharper than the standalone iSight’s, and the colors were a little better, but the QuickCam was visibly two or three steps beyond the newer iSight in both regards. Additionally, the QuickCam did a very good job of auto-focusing on a moving test iPhone, which the iSights will render as a blur up close; the Zeiss lens and autofocusing do a great job here.

A bigger difference was when we turned the lights off, closed all the room’s doors and windows, and let all three cameras do their best with available lighting. The original iSight produced heavily grainy, chunky video; the MacBook Pro’s iSight displayed less grainy video that was still not great, and the QuickCam Vision Pro’s video looked almost unchanged from when the room was brightly lit. Logitech’s “RightLight 2” feature, which promises to improve the subject’s image quality in dim or backlit conditions, made the video look much better than the others.

I’m going to continue to play with the QuickCam Vision Pro and offer more in the near future, but again, there’s a lot to love here. Unless Apple has something stunning to offer in its next monitor lineup, I’ll be quite content to keep using this along with my current Cinema Display.

« The iPhone Baby Arrives: Introducing Madeline Mirai Horwitz

A UK Perspective - Weighing iPhone 3G’s Cost »

Related Stories

Comments

1

Thanks for your review!  I’m very curious about the sound quality of the Logitech QuickCam Vision Pro’s microphone when compared to the iSight.  For all of the iSight’s flaws, it had some nice noise-canceling algorithms, and whomever was iChatting with you on the iSight could usually understand you very well even from a distance.  Other cams, not so much.

It looks like the QuickCam Vision Pro has a microphone, I assume behind the grill on the right side, but how does your voice sound for the other party when iChatting?  How about other things in your room, such as HVAC noise?  Is that prominent, or like the iSight does that get filtered out effectively?

Trevor

Posted by Trevor on July 1, 2008 at 11:06 AM (PDT)

2

Sounds like a great option to an iSight camera which always seemed overpriced to me.  Got a question for you…or anyone else…any camera out there that works on a PC but would provide good iChat-AIM video conferencing ability (ie Mac at home with built in iSight and my PC at work running AIM)?  Haven’t been able to figure out how to do this as easily as setting up iChat video conferences with family with Macs.

Posted by TosaDeac on July 1, 2008 at 11:09 AM (PDT)

3

Great review.  Now return it and buy the 9000, which is pretty much the same, included Window’s software [useful with BootCamp] (and neither has Mac-specific software, so you aren’t losing anything) and it’s….$30 LESS!

Posted by dave on July 1, 2008 at 11:21 AM (PDT)

4

Question: I have a PowerPC G4 Dual 1.42 GHz. Will this camera work with the USB port I have (it is not USB2). About a year ago I bought a Logitech camera that shaped like a golf ball and could not get it to work with this mac and a G4 Powerbook.

Posted by Dwayne on July 1, 2008 at 9:54 PM (PDT)

5

@ Dwayne: If you have a G4 tower, why not pop in a cheap PCI USB2-card? I just checked at Amazon (search for “usb pci mac”), and you can get one for 16 bucks. Problem solved, and you can suddenly do a whole lot more with your mac (external hard drives, USB sticks, iPods etc.).

For that other matter, the Logitech web cam, check out macam:
http://webcam-osx.sourceforge.net/

Hope this helps,

J.

Posted by Jeronimo on July 2, 2008 at 6:26 AM (PDT)

6

@dave: Don’t go with the 9000. I have it and although the sharpness and such is nice, it’s really not all that great on a Mac. In fact, it does a terrible job of tracking, every motion you make is blurred and delayed by a good second or two. The problem is that the 9000 is a Windows-only camera, so it doesn’t have quicktime support in it, which creates the video issues I’ve talked about. Just in case you think it might just be internet latency or anything like that, it’s the exact same when using directly with Photo Booth or iMovie. From what has been said in this review, it’s well worth your extra $30 to go with an actual Mac-specific product. I’m going to sell my 9000 on Amazon and get this when it’s released.

Posted by Luke on July 2, 2008 at 10:18 PM (PDT)

7

I have the 9000 Pro and use it with the Macbook Pro and the Dual Quad 3.2 Ghz Mac Pro.  Also use it on a Mac Mini 2.33 Ghz and a G4 Mac Mini 1.42 Ghz.  I got my 9000 Pro on line and for around 75 dollars US.  I am happy to find something to replace my iSight.  When you first click on the vid camera across from your name it takes a few seconds before iChat sees it and then it just works.

You can pay the extra for the Mac version but I do not see the benefit.  Companies do this a lot when they think mac users have more money.  Nuff Said


DaveB

Posted by Dave B on July 3, 2008 at 1:08 PM (PDT)

8

impressive the sharpness.
But first, what was the resolution on the Logitech.

And, are this fotos taken directly from the cam, or
passing thought a internet uplink stream of say 300kbit/sec ?
That would be interesting.

Posted by Werner on July 6, 2008 at 12:10 AM (PDT)

9

Confirming that the Logitech Quickcam 9000 is not compatible with Macs.  Frame rate dips into the 5fps range, and there’s heavy motion blur when moving.

It’s awesome if you always wanted to look like you’re dodging bullets, like Neo in The Matrix, but kind of sucks otherwise.

Posted by unintuitive on July 12, 2008 at 10:53 AM (PDT)

10

how are you getting this to work? I’ve tried connecting to several people and get an error. The folks at Logitech are not helping and I can’t get a response from apple.

Dave

Posted by dave Taylor on August 21, 2008 at 2:29 PM (PDT)

11

i just purchased a MacBook Pro and have 2 issues. 1) my entire company runs on Messenger and i have found that messenger fro mac does not support video. Anyone know how to get around this issue?


2) i have a Quick Cam Camera with softare V11.1 which i tried to load for MaC.  Is this camera not compatible with Mac?

3) I hear everyone talk about I-Chat but I chat has limitation to only 3 services, Yahoo,, etc, etc. What about MSN. Is there any software updates that can be used to run MSN on it?

Thanks,

Posted by Robert Granata on October 3, 2008 at 6:02 AM (PDT)

12

I bought the Quickcam Vision Pro and I’m using Tiger on my G5 Powermac with Skype loaded.

What else do I need to make a short video. I see my self on the screen but have no record button. Thanks for any info. Gene

Posted by Gene Austin on March 5, 2009 at 12:45 AM (PDT)

13

Apparently iMovie ‘09 does not recognize the QuickCam Vision Pro. The Pro (paid) version of Quicktime does however so you could make videos with that.

aydj

Posted by aydj on March 13, 2009 at 9:06 PM (PDT)

14

Quicktime Pro does not recognize this camera. At least mine doesn’t. Am I doing something wrong? And yes I do have the paid version of Quicktime Pro. ICHAT recognizes the camera but QT Pro doesn’t.

Posted by GC on September 4, 2009 at 10:02 PM (PDT)

15

What a disappointment!. This “vision pro” camera was a bad purchase. Audio gets very distorted when getting close to it. And 30 fps works only at small 320x240 resolution, otherwise useless 5 fps at 640x480. No software to adjust its settings beside iGlasses, which is an extra purchase. Is this the best Logitech can do?

Posted by Bbreaker on January 27, 2010 at 7:45 AM (PDT)

16

#15: Sounds like there’s something wrong on that side. We’ve been getting excellent resolution and performance out of the camera since this article was published - superior to any camera made by Apple or a third party for the Mac.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on January 27, 2010 at 7:58 AM (PDT)

17

I have Mac osx Version 10.4.11

I ordered the Logitech QuickCam Vision Pro.

Do I have to have ICHAT to use the camera & sound?

How do I get a download for ICHAT so my camera will work?

Thanks, Earlene Lourenco

Posted by Earlene A. Lourenco on March 25, 2011 at 6:46 PM (PDT)

If you have a comment, news tip, advertising inquiry, or coverage request, a question about iPods or accessories, or if you sell or market products, read iLounge's Comments + Questions policies before posting, and fully identify yourself if you do. We will delete comments containing advertising, astroturfing, trolling, personal attacks, offensive language, or other objectionable content, then ban and/or publicly identify violators. Wondering why we're talking about something other than iPods? Check the Archives: Backstage has been here and kicking it since 2004.

Commenting is not available in this section entry.
Sign up for the iLounge Weekly Newsletter

Email:

Recent News

Recent Reviews

Recent Articles

Sign up for the iLounge Weekly Newsletter

Email:

iLounge is an independent resource for all things iPod, iPhone, iPad, and beyond.
iPod, iPhone, iPad, iTunes, Apple TV, Mac, and the Apple logo are trademarks of Apple Inc.
iLounge is © 2001 - 2014 iLounge, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use | Privacy Policy