We have just installed a video conferencing system for a client who has offices in Boston, Mass. and Bath, England.

They didn’t want to spend a fortune of a Cisco Telepresence system or other proprietary a/v system so turned to us to come up with a solution.

Having seen another client essentially run their business using Mac’s and iChat we looked at putting together a system based on that technology. Using Mac Mini’s with a big screen (I mean an NEC 60″ plasma screen!) seemed the obvious thing to do. The Mac combined with the very sexy Mac bluetooth keyboard and Mighty Mouse and a Logitech USB microphone provides the bones of the system.

Many Mac users have the immediate advantage of having the built-in iSight camera. These give an excellent video output and if you can live with a screen of up to 24″ you have everything you need. However if you want to put a system in a boardroom and have a screen big enough for several people to sit round you need another camera.

Up until this month (July 2008) there has been next to no choice. The Mac works best with a firewire webcam and there are very few of those on the market. You might find it easier, as we have done to date, to use a digital camcorder with a firewire output. Our Sony camcorder works brilliantly with Mac’s (leave the DV tape out if you want to prevent it going to sleep after a period of inactivity) and we specifed our clients system with cheap firewire camcorders as the webcams.

PC users have had the choice of the excellent Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000 to use for a/v systems and these can output up to 720p HD video which is more than good enough for an internet based video conference.

However up until now Logitech seemed to have no interest in providing proper OS X support for the QuickCam 9000 Pro and our experience of them with Mac’s was that the video output in iChat was disapointing. But just as we are putting this system in place Logitech take us by surprise and suddenly announce the QuickCam Vision Pro that is ONLY supported under Mac / OS X. This webcam will apparently give us the auto-focusing and full 720p HD (960×720 pixels) output in iChat! Just what we want!

We’ve put an order in for one with Ingram Micro so we now just have to wait for it to come into stock.

As soon as we have it we will test it and let you know what the iChat output is like.

UPDATE 21st July
Cancelled order with Ingram Micro as they were still showing no stock date. Instead we have bought one direct from Logitech off their UK website.

This arrived today and at first glance it is an exact match for the PC version albeit a slightly more silvery black colour. It is recognised in iChat and the auto-focus works and there is no software to load. Without another QuickCam user to iChat with it is hard to tell at the moment what the resolution over the internet will be.

by hostadmin on Jul 9, 2008 at 9:06 PM


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