Logitech's HD Pro Webcam C910 Makes Video Chats Look and Sound Great
At a Glance
Logitech HD Pro Webcam C910
The Logitech HD Pro Webcam C910 provides crystal-clear 1080p video quality wrapped up in a sleek design.
(Updated 9/20/2010 to note this Webcam's updated compatibility with the SkypeHD video-calling service.)
The Logitech HD Pro Webcam C910 ($100, due out in August) stands out among the growing crowd of HD Webcams. I took a final production version for a trial, and found that the HD Pro Webcam is easy to use, captures crisp and vivid video, and has excellent sound quality.
The most advanced of Logitech's latest models, this Webcam shoots in full HD 1080p and snaps 10-megapixel still photos with its Carl Zeiss optics lens. Judging from the specs, it has the best video quality of the three latest Logitech models, and it provides an autofocus lens, a dual built-in microphone for optimal video chatting, premium automatic light correction, and fun Logitech video effects similar to those found in Apple's Photo Booth.
The C910 is long, sleek, and rectangular, measuring just a little less than an inch deep. It fits snugly on the top or side of your monitor, and stays in place nicely with the attached adjustable arm.
Setup is simple: If you already have video-calling software installed on your PC (such as Skype or Logitech Vid), you just plug the camera in via its attached USB cable, and it's ready to go.Tthe camera was designed as a counterpart to Logitech's new Vid HD service, so you can chat in HD when using Logitech Vid; but the Webcam also works beautifully with Skype's software, and it now supports the SkypeHD high-definition video-calling service.
Downloading Vid HD is the longest part of setup; but once the program is installed, it's actually much more intuitive to use than Skype is. Just snap a portrait of yourself, search for friends, and begin chatting by clicking on the portrait icon of the person you'd like to converse with. The interface provides larger video boxes than Skype does, allowing you to see your chat partner better. I haven't experienced a dropped call with Vid HD, but of course that mostly has to do with Internet connectivity (my chats with friends in the San Francisco Bay Area and in San Diego had much better quality than my conference with a friend in a remote part of South Africa).
To video-chat in HD, you should have a high-speed Internet connection with an upload speed of at least 1 mbps. For 720p HD video calling and 1080p full HD video recording, the C910 also requires Windows XP or higher, as well as a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo or faster CPU. Other requirements for the camera include 2GB of RAM, 200MB of hard-drive space, and 1280-by-720 screen resolution.
I found that the Logitech Webcam controls made it easy to zoom in and out and then pan in any direction to focus on something specific. The controls are presented in an intuitive desktop pop-up window; you click buttons on the screen to move the camera. I discovered that the camera captured motion best when it was zoomed all the way out; when it was zoomed in, its motion capture seemed less fluid and smooth.
When I compared the C910 and my laptop's embedded non-HD Webcam side by side, the differences were impressive. During calls with Skype and with Logitech's Vid HD video-calling service, the C910 produced no noticeable pixelation. Using it through the standard Windows video-shooter program didn't quite produce the same stunning effect, however; in that app, I noticed slight pixelation and a higher sensitivity to changes in light.
The Logitech C910 handled changes in light extremely well. For instance, if you have light shining directly on your face, you'll appear lit up and bright, whereas using a lower light setting or using overhead light eliminates this effect. The autofocus adjusts to different light settings and provides great color representation, although in my tests the color was sometimes slightly distorted and lighter in tone under bright light. I found that the camera pretty much stayed in focus during normal seated use, and any adjustments it made to accommodate movement or fast action were so subtle that I could hardly notice it changing.
In my testing, the dual microphones in the C910 picked up voices and other sounds without a problem. My video-chat partners never had an issue hearing me, which has been a major problem with the built-in mics on other Webcams. The parties I talked with reported that my voice rang out loud and clear, even when I was standing farther away from the device.
One last appealing feature of the C910 is its easy video upload to YouTube and Facebook. The C910's software includes Magix photo- and video-editing tools, so once you shoot a video blog, a mini movie, or a message for a friend, you can spruce it up a bit before uploading.
The Logitech HD Pro Webcam C910 is undoubtedly one of the most advanced Webcams to hit the market. Its crisp video capture is stunning--and paired with Logitech's Vid HD videoconferencing services, its features and autofocus really shine. Because of its higher price, it's probably better suited for small-business calls or for people who are frequent video chatters. Just be sure that your PC meets the HD-video requirements to make this a worthwhile purchase.