Two trends mean there’s a good chance you’ll soon be doing a lot more video conferencing. First, New Zealand is getting a fast fibre network. That makes video a more practical proposition.Second, the rise of unified communications. This is where all business communications combine so that everything goes through a single consistent user interface. Among other things, you may see the integration of email, telephone calls, instant messaging and video conferencing. There are popular tools to do this from companies like Cisco and Microsoft.
If you want video conferencing you need a computer along with loudspeakers or headphones to hear incoming messages, a microphone so you can talk back and a camera. Some devices come with all three built-in. For the rest, there’s Logitech, which offers a range of add-ons to make video conferencing and unified communications practical.
Logitech’s Webcam C930e is one of the best add-on video cameras you’ll find. It mounts on a laptop screen or on a monitor. It can also sit on a shelf or a desk. There are microphones either side of the lens to catch stereo sound. There’s a privacy shutter so you don’t have to worry about being caught unawares.
Installing the C930 is about as simple as these things can ever be. So long as you have a USB 2.0 port and either a PC running an OS later than Windows 7 or a Mac running OS X 10.7 or later, it will automatically find and install drivers. All you need to do is plug the thing in.
The camera comes with Logitech’s own technology that automatically deals with whatever light conditions it finds. It also has autofocus. The result is clear sharp video images at full HD 1080p resolution. Sound is good too, there’s built-in noise cancelling.
I tried on on a MacBook Air and it immediately presented itself as an alternative to the built-in video camera. The image was crisper and the software did a decent job of adjusting the light conditions – although the built-in camera does that too.
It’s hard to find much wrong with the Webcam C930. My only complaints are minor. The camera only has digital zoom, this is convenient in use but means images can quickly get grainy if you get close to the full 4x zoom. And that privacy shutter easily unclips – read that as ‘it could get lost’.
There are cheaper alternatives to the Logitech Webcam C930e, but at around $170 it’s a quality product that delivers in spades.