Review: Logitech C310 HD Web cam PDF Print E-mail

Getting fed up with the grainy visuals from your ageing Web cam? Maybe Logitech`s C310 HD Web cam is what you need, for a better video chat experience.

What is it?

Plain and simple, it`s a Web cam – the kind that has wires, remember those dangly things? – that connects to your USB port. It has a built-in microphone and HD capabilities. Videoconferencing will have a whole lot more clarity from now on.

Does it work?

Skype is probably the most popular videoconferencing client. It`s free, the voice calls already work brilliantly and it`s multiplatform. While the C310 is Skype certified, its HD capabilities aren`t to the Skype HD standard. The voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) provider has announced less than a handful of compatible Web cams for its high-definition video feature (currently only available in a beta version of the software) all of those models have integrated hardware for compressing video before broadcasting it over an Internet connection.

At a mere R500, it`s no wonder the C310 doesn`t have hardware video compression. But just because it can`t do Skype HD calls does not preclude it from HD Web chats completely. Logitech has its aptly named Vid service for videoconferencing but it specifies that you`ll need quite a modern computer to do some of the heavy compression for HD calls.

I did not run into problems at all when setting up the C310 on either my Mac or Windows installations. As with all modern computer peripherals the operating system detected it, identified it and enabled it within a matter of seconds. A disc in the box has the Vid client for Windows machines; Mac users will have to dig around Logitech`s site to find a download (or click here: http://tinyurl.com/2aptzv7).

The problem is that this requires another account to sign up for and maintain. Vid is rudimentary, offering little in the way of integration with existing features in Windows or OS X. There`s also the issue of bandwidth; HD calls, through Vid, just don`t work that well. Upload speed on local ADSL connections is severely hamstrung and this is a major obstacle for services like Vid and Skype. Perhaps Skype`s HD standard, and requirement of hardware compression, uses a video format that is less bandwidth intensive. We`ll test this out when it goes live and the hardware becomes available.

Should I buy it?

Despite the limitations of local bandwidth and the mediocre software for HD calls, the C310 is still a damn good upgrade for those who`ve been using boring old Web cams from 2002. It has excellent quality for video, and the ability to take up to 5 MP stills. The newer image sensor in this is also more sensitive, making it usable in low light compared to older Web cams.

R500 is what I`d call “pocket money”. Even a regular Web cam at R100 would be a waste when something this good, and affordable, is available.


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