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Logitech Quickcam Communicate Deluxe
The webcam is losing foothold in the market today, with most laptops (and even some higher-end monitors) integrating the technology. While the integrated devices are nowhere close to being as good as a standalone webcam, it still does the job, which is what most casual users are concerned with.
That said, standalone cameras from most manufacturers do offer more than just a vanilla webcam. A lot of cameras these days come with a built-in mic unit, so you don't really need external cables or a goofy headset attached when videoconferencing. Besides, there are also various software additions to enhance your video calls... but more on that in a bit.
Out of the box, the Communicate Deluxe follows the standard spherical webcam design, with an elongated lower back extension for it to be attached atop your monitor or your laptop screen. The design eliminates any chance of placing the webcam on your desk. I personally would have preferred it to come with a detachable base so I'd be able to place it on a flat surface. Considering that there are quite a lot of people who have their home PCs attached to their LCD TV panels, I don't think it's too much to ask. Still, that's not a fatal flaw, just old-school design. The monitor grip has a high-friction rubber layer that keeps the camera firmly in place.
The webcam comes with a 'privacy shade', which is just a pull-down shutter for the lens. It automatically mutes the audio and (naturally) blacks out the video so you don't have to try anything extreme when someone unexpectedly enters your video frame. It's a simple yet effective feature.
You wouldn't need to attach an external mic to your PC, as the Quickcam has one built-in. In our tests the mic worked pretty well, keeping the audio fixed on the person right ahead. It did pick up ambient sounds as well, but not to an extent that could distort the primary audio source.
For video there's a 1.3 megapixel image sensor capable of interpolating images upto 5 megapixels. Considering that most of your videoconferencing would not really exceed QVGA or VGA resolution, rest assured the higher megapixel count makes sense only for shooting still images. Even video recording is limited to VGA, which also makes perfect sense as the video delay is very huge in the camera's native resolution. Even if the camera did support video recording in full resolution, there would be no chance of the audio being in sync.
That said, the Quickcam makes excellent use of the available light. Even when I tested the camera in low light, I didn't come across a single instance where the image quality was too noisy to be usable.
A big draw in the Logitech Quickcams is the face recognition capability, which allows the camera to recognize and track your face anywhere in the frame. It's fun to have a camera follow you as you move around your workspace, always keeping you in focus. The camera doesn't physically move to track your face, but merely uses digital zoom to crop out the frame and keep you in perfect view. The technology isn't perfect, but it's still cool.
Speaking of cool, any Quickcam review would be incomplete without mentioning the effects that come with the Quickcam application. The application uses the webcam's face tracking capabilities to add effects to your webcam conversations like complete overlays:
There are also some simple (and less system intensive) effects like the ones below:
And some awesome video effects thrown in the mix:
As if the pre-installed effects weren't enough, there are tons of downloadable effects available on the Quickcam website.
At Rs 5500, the Quickcam Communicate Deluxe is (as the name suggests) a 'deluxe' webcam. Of course, not everyone would see the logic in buying this when there are many other options available for a lot less, but it eventually comes down to quality. Few webcams can offer the Quickcam's flawless video and audio quality, and the bundled software/hardware features definitely make it a worthwhile buy.