Logitech’s new web cam with a built-in microphone

THE GADGET YOU MUST KNOW OF The web cam has emerged as a key peripheral in the age of the Internet, helping people see each others’ image as they chat or make calls. Logitech’s QuickCam gives better image quality

When you think Switzerland, what comes to mind?

Chocolates, watches, secretive banks, right? Also, buxom Hindi film heroines prancing around with their toupee- wearing leading men, wearing white outfits. But high, cut- ting-edge technology?

Now, that is not an area that readily comes to mind when you think of a country that hasn’t gone to war in over 500 years, is it? Logitech would beg to differ. The $2 billion Swiss company is one of the largest manufacturers of web cams, wireless keyboards and mouses. And recently, it launched the L o g i t e c h QuickCam Ultra Vision. In plain English, a Web camera. The web cam has emerged as a key peripheral in the age of the Internet, helping people see each others’ image as they chat or make phone calls online.

In earlier years, PC makers threw in a web cam free of cost to sweeten the deal, but those babies were strictly downmarket, mass produced by a sweatshop in China or Vietnam. The picture it delivered was distorted. I had one such freebie when I bought a PC some years ago, which made me look like a wall-towall version of Winnie the Pooh, but not as endearing.

Logitech’s QuickCam certainly gives better image quality. It seems that’s on account of the extra-large, precisionengineered glass lens with a low f-stop setting, increasing the amount of light entering the webcam and precisely focusing that light to create sharp, vivid images.

I tested Logitech’s claim that the lens is cognitive, based on its RightLight 2 technology. In other words, the technology helps the camera take a crisp picture even if there is low lighting, or intense back or side-lighting, intelligently adapting the camera’s video settings based on the environ ment in which the camera is used. It checked out. The web cam also features a 1.3 megapixel sensor and supports the High-Definition (HD) video format, allowing people to create video clips and watch them in a wide-screen format.

The web cam has a built-in microphone, and ach edge features a button — one that launches a mirror video window so that people can check their image before they engage in a video call, and the other to take quick snapshots. The web cam also features a soft-blue back-lighted ring, which illuminates when the camera is active. The camera lens system comprises five extra-large lenses, several of which are made with glass, providing exceptionally sharp and clear video.

The QuickCam, which is priced at Rs 10,995, a little steep compared to similar products in the market, comes with Logitech Video Effects software. Now, this is where it gets interesting. The software allows people to completely transform themselves into three-dimensional animated characters (avatars) that pre cisely mimic facial move ments, or to add accessories to their on-screen image, such as glasses, a beard or a crown.

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