With high-definition video support becoming increasingly common among video conferencing solutions, high-quality HD Webcams like the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C910 become more intriguing for both home and office use. Released in August, the C910 costs $100 (or $150 for two units) and comes with a suite of software tools that allows the user to take still photos or record HD videos, easily post content to YouTube or Facebook, and place HD video calls to other users of Logitech's video calling software, Logitech Vid HD.
The C910 has an unobtrusive profile, measuring around 95 millimeters long, 32 mm tall, and 25 mm deep. It doesn't have a clip, instead using a weighted arm and two hinges that can be used to easily prop the Webcam with relative stability atop an external or laptop LCD monitor. Much of the width is used for a pair of microphone pickups, one on each side of the camera, used to provide stereo sound input.
Logitech uses Carl Zeiss optics for the camera lens, and the lens can record 720p video for both recordings and video conferencing applications, as well as 1080p video for recordings only, using the included Logitech Quick Capture tool. The camera can also capture still pictures with resolution of up to 10 megapixels, but that resolution is software-enhanced as the camera only has a 5 megapixel lens.
The lens has limited pan capabilities, probably no more than about a 20 degree pan radius, which I could control using Logitech's Webcam Controller software, which offers zoom controls and auto-focus. I could also enable the Follow My Face feature, which uses pattern recognition to pick up my face and follow my movement from side to side and back and forth. The manual pan and zoom controls won't work with Follow My Face enabled.
With the Advanced settings, I could control exposure, gain, brightness, contrast and color intensity-or simply enable Logitech's RightLight to automate those settings. In my office, which is typically on the dark side, I found RightLight generated too rich of a blue shade in the background with overly red hues on skin, although adding more light in the office resolved those quirks.
Logitech's Quick Capture tool let me easily record up to 1080p resolution video (360p, 480p and 720p resolutions are also available). I did find that when using the C910's built-in microphones, I needed to crank the input level all the way up to be able to hear recorded audio when speaking in my normal voice, even though I was sitting only about 2 feet away and directly in front of the camera.
The recording software includes tools with which to easily upload recorded video from the PC to Facebook or YouTube. In case the video needs a little editing, the software includes a link to a free download of Logitech's Magix photo editing software, which I did not test.
For 720p video calling or 1080p video recording, Logitech recommends that the PC have at least a dual-core 2.4GHz processor and 2GB of RAM, and be running Windows 7 or Vista (32-bit or 64-bit) or Windows XP Service Pack 2 or SP3. My Windows 7 x64 test system fell a little short of this qualification, with a dual-core 2.0GHz processor and 4GB of RAM, but I found 720p video calling typically worked with third-party applications. Using Logitech's software for 1080p recording also worked, but it completely maxed out the processor, causing a problem most often when my security suite tried to scan a file or update itself.
Logitech's Webcam software picks up the presence of some video conferencing software on the PC, presenting those applications for use from the Webcam software itself. This allowed me to fire up Skype and Google Voice and Video Chat directly from the Webcam software, and should also work for Yahoo Messenger and Windows Live Messenger, although I didn't test these in conjunction with the C910.