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The Carl Zeiss lens captures your entire living room.
Wish you could video chat on the biggest screen in your home? Me neither. But for those who do, Logitech's TV Cam HD makes it happen in stunning detail. With an Ethernet or Wi-Fi connection, and HDMI-out to your TV, it lets you video chat from your couch, while a wide-angle Carl Zeiss lens puts the whole room on display in 720p.
In my testing, everyone I’ve chatted with has remarked on the sharp image quality. They're surprised not just by what they see, but how much they see. Putting into perspective the fuzziness of most computers' webcams, the visuals here are remarkably crisp, performing even in low light. With four noise-reducing microphones, audio comes through clearly as well, though sound can drop off if directed away from the camera.
Since the wide-angle lens captures the entire room, I’m always tidying up before starting a video chat. An easy solution is to zoom in so less of the environment is shown. Conversely, people are also a little weirded out to know their face is taking up an entire 40-inch TV.
I can't think of many instances in which so much context is desired. Usually when I want to video chat, I care most about seeing someone's face. Home tours over Skype happen so rarely (only when someone moves), and walking around with a laptop or iPad works better for that anyway. This might, however, be a fit for those who do want to show off everything—and I do mean everything. Amateur porn springs to mind, but since this webcam can only be used with Skype, it's more fitting for long-distance lovers. Lo and behold, Logitech also sells the TV Cam HD in a two-pack for $350, a discount off $200 for one. The camera, which can be placed on an entertainment system or mounted to the top of the TV, has an adjustable base to control the shooting angle (ooh la la).
I just wish it worked with services other than Skype, like the video chats now built in to Gmail. Still, cross-platform Skype is a step up from the Logitech Vid HD app used by the Revue, Logitech's TV cam from 2010.
The bottom line. Since your Mac and all your iOS devices can already video-chat with Skype or FaceTime, the TV Cam HD's $200 price tag can be hard to justify. Logitech has designed a great piece of hardware that’s easy to set up and use, but its main limitation is the Skype-only software.
TV with HDMI, and either Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection to your network. Free Skype account.
Super-sharp visuals. Good sound. Easy setup. Ethernet and Wi-Fi.
Shows the whole room, which isn’t always a good thing. Expensive. Skype only!