We’ve already brought your our review of the Logitech Revue itself, so now it’s time to talk about accessories. The Logitech TV Cam allows you to experience HD video calling from the comfort of your living room.
With its sleek design and black, glossy finish, the Logitech TV cam looks great on just about any TV. Sure, it looks beautiful, but is its performance as good as its looks? Continue reading to find out, as GTVHub reviews the Logitech TV Cam accessory for the Logitech Revue.
Unboxing and Initial Impressions:
You may have already seen the unboxing gallery and initial impressions we posted last week, but I’m going to go a little more in-depth into the packaging and the initial impressions I got from the Logitech TV Cam.
The packaging is very similar to the Logitech Revue’s: efficient yet attractive. It’s always refreshing to open up a product box and not find a bunch of extra packaging that will just get thrown away to eventually get laid to rest in a landfill somewhere.
The front of the box features a excellent picture of the TV Cam itself, which really is a beautiful piece of hardware (more on that below). On the back, we see a family sitting on the couch talking to the children’s grandparents, so again Logitech is really pushing this as a means of staying in touch with family and friends.
Setting up the TV Cam is a much simpler process than setting up the Revue for the first time. Simply connect it to one of the Revue’s USB ports, and follow the on screen instructions which has you test out that the camera is working, asks you to associate an email address with your Vid HD account (this is how people add you to their contacts list) and take an optional profile photo.
Let’s move on and discuss the actual camera itself, including technical specifications, physical appearance, and ease of use.
We don’t have QUITE as much to cover as we did with the Revue, but it’s still important to discuss the actual physical hardware of the camera. Before we go any further, here are the technical specifications:
- Widescreen, HD (720p) resolution video
- 5x digital zoom
- Carl Zeiss® optics with autofocus
- Formatted for widescreen HDTVs
- On-screen caller ID
- Stereo audio available with calls made through Logitech Vid HD
- Two digital, directional microphones
- Noise reduction
- Echo cancellation
- 11-foot USB cable (5-foot connected cable plus 6-foot extension cable)
We should also point out that in order to transmit high def video, you will need a minimum upload/download speed of 1 Mbps.
Physically, the camera is quite beautiful. It does not feel cheap in the slightest, and its wide form factor makes it an attractive addition to a flat screen TV. The back piece is a mobile hinge of sorts, which allows you to hold the camera firmly in place atop the TV. I was a bit skeptical as to how it would rest on my TV without falling off, but it works just fine. Depending on the thickness of your set, you may have to do some fan-dangling, but chances are you can get this to sit nicely on just about any TV.
On the front of the camera, there are several LED lights. There are two semi-circular ones surrounding the lens, which emit a blue light when the device powers up. There is also a white LED on the right which activates when you’ve missed a call, so that’s a handy way of knowing without opening the Vid HD application.
Also, the Logitech TV Cam comes with a USB extension cable, in case the distance from the camera and the Revue is too great for the cable already attached to the device. This is not something that would be terribly expensive to buy on your own, but it is certainly a nice touch that Logitech thought ahead to include one.
In terms of controlling the camera remotely, all you can really do is zoom in using the page up and down keys on whatever controller you are using, and pan the picture up, down, left, and right using the D pad. It should be noted that if you’re fully zoomed out, you can not pan the camera around, and the degree to which you can pan increases the further you zoom in. You can see an example of this in our video demonstration posted at the end of the Software portion of this review.
Now that the hardware is out of the way, let’s take a look at the meat of the Logitech TV Cam experience: Vid HD.
Now that we’ve talked a bit about the hardware, let’s take a look at what the Vid HD software currently allows you to do on the Revue, and some things Logitech is planning on adding in the future.
As we alluded to previously, setting up Vid HD is a pretty quick process, involving signing up for an account, making sure the camera is hooked up properly, and taking an optional profile photo. Once you’ve taken care of that, you just have to add some contacts (using the email address they tied to Vid HD) and you’re ready to make some video calls.
Now, you have a couple of different options in terms of who you can video chat with using your Logitech TV Cam. The primary purpose of the camera is to chat with other friends and family who also have a Revue and TV Cam, but what you may not know is that you can extend that reach to a desktop or laptop as well.
That’s right, you can call anyone that has a webcam and Vid HD installed, which can be downloaded for free here. If they happen to have an HD webcam (and the 1Mbps up/down), both parties can enjoy full HD video calling. This is a great aspect of Vid HD, because you’re not limited to calling people with a Logitech Revue. This way, you can stay in touch with friends and family much easier, and from the comfort of your living room.
In terms of the calls themselves, as long as both parties are on a speedy connection, the audio and video quality is superb. The framerate is excellent, sound comes through crystal clear, and overall is a pleasure to use. You can see an example of the quality in our video demo at the end of this section of the review.
If you’re away from your Revue and you miss a call, a notification shows up in the bottom right corner of the screen when Vid HD is open, and as previously mentioned, a white LED notification lights up on the right portion of the camera.
With this current release of Vid HD for the Revue, you are somewhat limited to video calling, and with only one individual at a time. With future versions of the software, Logitech is planning on adding video conferencing with multiple individuals, the ability to instant message your contacts using the keyboard, and perhaps some social networking integration to make it easier to find your friends and family on Vid HD.
We shot a brief video to demonstrate the Logitech TV Cam and Vid HD with the help of Logitech’s Glen Kuo, which you can watch below.
Much like our review of the Logitech Revue, I’m finding it difficult to come up with a list of things I dislike about the TV Cam. If I had to name a few things that may be holding it back, however, they would have to be the price, and the current limitations of the Vid HD software itself.
Like I said about the Revue, I feel a price drop of say $25-50 dollars would make this much more attractive to Revue customers. In terms of the software, I would have welcomed a bit more out of Vid HD, even if it was just a simple feature like being able to send messages to your contacts. However, Logitech has confirmed that they are integrating these features in later versions of Vid HD for the Revue, so at least they are aware of the demand for such features.
At this point, however, I am satisfied just being able to make HD video calls from my couch, whether it be to make a virtual appearance at a Logitech loft party, or to chat with a friend who has a webcam on their desktop or laptop computer. The superb call quality makes having a conversation feel natural, the device is sleek and attractive, and setting it up and using it is a breeze. I would certainly recommend this to any Revue owners who like to use video calling as a means of keeping in touch with friends and family
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