Up until now, we have not found a webcam that can rival the Logitech 9000 QuickCam Pro, which produces excellent image quality and sound fidelity. I have been using a Logitech 9000 webcam for well over a year now and I am very impressed with its performance.
Two new webcams have caught my eye, and they record in high defnintion. In many cases, when using video on the web, (e.g. video email, video conferencing, and web video in general) HD is still not practical for most people because it is much harder to handle and the final output isn’t noticeably different than SD. This is because video needs to go through an encoding process for it to be usable of the web.
Encoding is a process that reduces the size of a video file so it can be transmitted over the web. In most cases, video encoding reduces the image quality. We call that lossy video compression. Lossless is the other end of the encoding spectrum in which no quality is sacrificed.
Let’s look at some of the major factors involved with the transition from SD to HD:
- As internet connection speeds increase, larger video files can be used, and more bits can be steamed per second.
- Video compression codecs are also improving, which means that smaller files sizes have higher image quality.
- We must have the horsepower needed to encode the video. As a rule of thumb, it takes 4 times longer to encode HD video than SD video. If you don’t have enough horsepower to encode a video, it becomes choppy. This horsepower can be on the computer side or web-server side. When using a web sever to encode videos, the file still needs to get there, so internet connection speed -specifically your upload speed- comes into play.
- The screen resolution that the viewer has also in a factor. Unlike your TV, web-HD can be viewed on any monitor that’s modern. As long as your viewer isn’t using a CRT monitor or an old laptop, they should have enough resolution to view the HD video properly. We mainly run into problems when their computer can’t handle processing the video, and the HD becomes quite choppy.
The transition from SD to HD is complicated business for the industry, and that filters down to you.
Now that we have gone over the ground work, I am going to keep things as simple as possible when discussing the value proposition of the Logitech Pro C910 and FaceVsion TouchCam N1.
For both webcams, you need a high speed internet connection (cable, DSL)
Logitech Pro C910
The Logitech records in 1080p and it will produce a higher quality picture, both initially and as a final viewable file. This is because higher quality source file will always result in the higher quality final file, when going through the same encoding workflow. Logitech also has excellent sound quality. Due to this webcam recording in 1080p HD video, your going to need a fair amount of computer horsepower to capitalize on its capabilities. Logitech recommends at least a 2.4Ghz Core 2 Duo processor and 2GB of RAM on their website. I would push that to at least 3GB of RAM.
FV TouchCam N1
The FV TouchCam only hits 720p, and is not noticeably different on most people’s computer monitors. It also has on-board hardware to reduce the load put on your system to transcode the video before transmitting it. A Core 2 Due processor is still recommend by the manufacturer, but 1GB of RAM is listed as the minimum requirement.
Both webcams cost just over $100.
If you want superior image and sound quality, in my opinion, you should go with the Logitech C910. However, you must have a computer that can handle the encoding process, 2.4Ghz Core 2 Duo and 2GB of RAM or higher. If you don’t have a computer that meets the requirements, consider purchasing the Logitech 9000, which records in more than adequate SD, or giving the FV TouchCam N1 a try.