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Skype with High Quality Video

Periodically a vendor sends me a pretty good toy to try out.  The Logitech QuickCam Pro for Notebooks is one such item.  The folks at Skype's PR agency shipped it to me because they wanted me to see the high quality video features in the latest version of Skype…. more on Skype in a minute. Let's talk about the camera first.

The QuickCam Pro for Notebooks is one of a new generation of Logitech cams with a 2 megapixel sensor.  That means it can record video at up to 2 megapixels of resolution, and snap photos at up to 8 megapixels.  This is a serious video device for your PC!

image

You may remember that I am not a huge fan of video calls.  Previously, I've been a pretty outspoken critic because:

  1. it's hard to get the lighting right on a video call.  There's a lot of badly lit PC video out there.  You know what I mean… the videos where the one half of the face is in darkness, and the other overexposed?
  2. the camera always seems to be focused on the other person's forehead.  We tend to look at the screen rather than camera, which makes it very disconcerting.  That means that the postage stamp sized videos that most webcams produce have people looking all over the place… but not at the cam.  It's a very weird effect.

Well, the Logitech team has solved both of these.  Image processing technology that they have dubbed "RightLight" solves the exposure problems. Boosted pixel count makes it so that you don't need to worry so much about  where you look, because the whole room around you shows up in the image.  Take a look at the two samples below to see what I mean.  The first was shot with the Logitech QuickCam Pro for Notebooks, and the second with the QuickCam Pro STX. Notice how much more you can see with the better camera.

And as for Skype?  Well, I just finished a twenty minute call with Skype Journal editor Jim Courtney.  Each of us ran the call in full screen mode.  In this mode, Skype puts your video into a thumbnail at the bottom of the screen, and then displays the other person on the full screen video.

It was as if Jim was across the table from me.

Right afterward I ordered another Logitech camera on eBay.  'nuff said.

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • a1gjv January 14, 2008, 3:56 am

    Good picture but the voice is not in sync with the video and you don't say in you report what PC you are using etc you just purely talk about the camera IMHO I think you need to say more about the whole test package.

  • Alec January 14, 2008, 7:48 am

    You're right. I think the audio / video synch problem is reflective of the quality of the logitech test app. I didn't see this with Skype in the same way.

    The PC I used was a Acer Core 2 Quad, with 3G of memory, and a dual head ATI Radeon HD 2600 Pro video card with 256M of memory. Skype recommends a minimum dual core processor for high quality video.

    Thanks for the feedback.

  • Jose Quintaras February 21, 2008, 11:56 am

    Thanks for the review.
    When you say It was as if" Jim was across the table from me." – Well, I'd like to see that video or any skype video conversation because your recording above is just a straight video record – not what appears on the receiving end of an IM Video call.
    I mean that's why we shell out the money for this thing right? To get great skype video results. I would like to see your skype results recorded showing the receiver's video quality. Can you do that?

  • Alec February 21, 2008, 2:33 pm

    Hey Jose,

    I'll see what can be done. I don't know of a video recording solution for Skype, although that would be cool.

    A

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