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Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000. 2-megapixel auto-focus wide field of view webcam with echo canceling microphone

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By Jon Deragon, Visca Consulting

Wednesday, November 26, 2008; 4:30pm EST

The latest webcam from Logitech, the QuickCam Pro 9000 represents the latest flagship model of the QuickCam series. The QuickCam series has been a solid option in the somewhat heavily populated webcam market, covering the complete spectrum from budget to high end. The Pro 9000 features a sleek, contemporary design in predominantly black color scheme and glossy finished front. Left side features a rounded casing that houses the camera, the middle, a logo which has an appealing red circle that illuminates when the camera is in use, and on the right of the case is the microphone which is covered by a wire mesh. This version does away with the long included camera privacy cover, which in this day and age is simply no longer needed.

Installation process is as simple as running included install software, a couple mouse clicks and inserting the webcam’s included USB 2.0 cable into your computer when requested. You’re literally up and running with live webcam action in your favourite popular instant messenger client in a couple minutes. We did however experience some quite serious conflicts between the webcam and the on-board NIC in our test computer (Intel Quad core with latest generation nForce motherboard), resulting in a loss of network connectivity when the webcam used any of the USB ports. We were able to resolve this by using the secondary NIC port, but if that were not an option this would be a definite deal breaker as Logitech technical support was unable to resolve the issue. We imagine for most people this will not be an issue, but it does exist.

Attaching the webcam to a typical LCD monitor requires you to lay the webcam across the depth of the monitor; the front of the webcam rests over the front edge of the monitor, and the back of the webcam swings downward, applying pressure to the back of the monitor to hold the webcam in place. We congratulate Logitech in making a significantly sturdier and more reliable method of attaching the camera to a typical LCD monitor. We would have preferred that the actual device didn’t hang over the front of the monitor bezel so low on our 24” test monitor, as it is slightly distracting when using the upper portion of the screen. In all fairness, after a day or so of usage you really don’t notice the webcam, but this may vary by individual.

Once up and working, the quality of the new optics is apparent immediately, with a very obvious distinction between its image clarity versus previous generation webcams such as the QuickCam Fusion. The Carl Zeiss glass lens in concert with the 2-megapixel camera sensor provided a sharp and well defined image, leaps beyond what the single megapixel and sub-megapixel webcam offerings. Our overall impression of the video quality was that that the Pro 9000 had sharp image quality, rich colors for the most part, and a good wide field of view that helped to include more in the picture. The auto-focus feature, certainly assisted in creating a clear picture most of the time, particularly in those cases where macro focus was desired. The auto-focusing isn’t instant, but the second or two response time should be more than adequate for most situations. Unfortunately, auto-focusing did at times become confused, leaving you with a completely fuzzy image (particularly in darker room settings) that was hard to reset, sometimes requiring you to hold your hand in front of the camera to give it something easy to focus on. Auto-focus can be easily disabled if desired, and manual software based focusing is available.

It captures HD video which is a very generous 960x720 resolution – and it’s very obvious when you switch to this resolution, what a great amount of video real estate it is. Other, lower resolutions modes are available to suit your needs. While the quality of the video capturing is commendable, swift movements such as quick head or hand gestures cause blurring. For simple instant messaging communications, this will not be a problem, however it may be more of an issue when attempting to film blog casts or similar such video material. The software included with the webcam includes an abundance of video characteristics settings which you can optimize for your specific location. RightLight2 technology is supposed to enhance the image quality; however our testing found it artificially increased the exposure and brightness that caused an overall negative effect on the balance of the image lighting and contrast. With this feature off the video was much more balanced and consistent. Still images can also be captured if so desired at the 2-megapixel resolution or 8-megapixels using the software’s processing.

Sound quality was impressive. Sound samples created with the internal microphone were clear, had good dynamic range and effectively cancelled out simple background noises such as computer fans and other such constant noises. Even sitting at a fair distance from the microphone, it offered very solid audio capturing that could be used not only for instant messaging, but for other uses as well such as simple podcasting or other such activities.

So what are our overall thoughts on the QuickCam Pro 9000? It’s a fantastic webcam. The combination of latest generation webcam technologies really do come together to offer excellent video and audio quality. While some of the technologies employed such as the auto-focus and RightLight2 aren’t perfect, they aren’t mandatory, and perhaps in certain circumstances they may work better than tested due to such a wide variety of environments that webcams are subjected to in terms of lighting, room size and so on. We love the build quality, features, and the overall caring nature the device was conceived and would certainly recommend it to both people looking for their first webcam, or others with older models looking for a boost in performance.

The Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000 includes a generous 2-year limited warranty. Recommendations include Windows XP, Pentium 4 with 2.4 GHz or higher, 256 MB memory, 200 MB of hard drive space, USB 2.0 port, 16-bit video card, Windows compatible sound card. Windows Vista compatibility requires higher specifications. The product has a recommended retail price of $119.99 CAD and is available on the Logitech online store and all major electronics retailers nationwide.

About The Author

Jon Deragon is president and founder of Visca Consulting, a firm specializing in web site design, development and usability for businesses of all sizes. His many years in the technology industry has enabled him to write quality, in-depth product reviews to assist businesses make more informed technology purchases. He welcomes any questions or comments you may have regarding his company's services, this review or interest in having your company's products reviewed.

 

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