Cast your memory back to 1995. The Web was a huge ever-growing pulsating brain that ruled from the center of the Ultraworld (apologies to The Orb), and online experts were predicting that person-to-person meetings were a thing of the past due to the upcoming onslaught of Webcams. It didn't quite work out that way, did it? Webcams running over a 33.3Kbps modem were hardly worth the effort, and setting up the coffee-cam was about as far as anybody ever got.
Logitech recently released the QuickCam Orbit, a futuristic-looking (think Hal from 2001) Webcam with a twist—inside the camera ball, you'll find a motor that lets the camera pan across a room or zoom in (as far as 300 percent) on your subject.
The QuickCam Orbit can turn 128 degrees left to right and 54 degrees up and down, giving you unparalleled viewing control during a Webcam meeting. I tested the Orbit on a 1.9MHz Pentium 4 HP Pavilion computer (with 512 MB of RAM), running Windows XP and Microsoft Instant Messenger (IM). Installation failed twice because of driver problems, possibly from a previous Webcam installation. A quick download from Logitech's Web site fixed the problem.
|Detailed Tech Specs|
|Video capture||Up to 640x480 pixels|
|Still-image capture||Up to 1280x960 pixels|
|Frame rate||Up to 30fps (with recommended system)|
|Mechanical pan-and-tilt feature lets the Webcam physically turn 128 degrees side-to-side (for an almost 180-degree horizontal view), and 54 degrees up-and-down (for an almost 90-degree vertical view)|
The Orbit's Auto-zoom technology is another impressive idea: I can use it to zoom in as much as three times the normal viewing size—great for showing products or even scanning across the car park!
The Orbit's video-camera functionality let me capture 1.3-megapixel images and 640x480 videos. On a final note, the camera's 9" stand lets you raise the camera lens to eye level, meaning that you don’t have to balance the camera on top of your LCD monitor!
The Orbit's street price of $129 seems a little high, considering the availability of plenty of options starting at $30, but the motorized lenses, along with the incredible looks, make the QuickCam Orbit a good buy.
|Connected Home Magazine Rating (10 possible)|
|Design||Ease of Use||Performance||Overall|
| Minimum System Requirements: PC|
Minimum System Requirements: Mac