Skype is an extremely useful and indeed cost saving application, but a disadvantage of this particular method of communication is its requirement to sit at a computer, which does get old after a while. Logitech recently introduced its TV Cam HD, which allows you to video call while just sitting on your couch. While there are television sets with built-in webcam and Skype app, the TV Cam HD has been designed to work with any set with an HDMI port. We sat down and did some calling, and were pleasantly surprised, even if the product feels rough around the edges. Read on for our full review!
Now that the world is a global village, it happens more often than not that we find ourselves at opposite ends of the world with family, relatives and friends. In those circumstances it can be very nice to not just talk with them, but also to see them. Of course you can do that with a laptop with a built-in webcam or a combination of computer and webcam. Separate webcams tend to offer superior image quality, but still they do tie you down to a computer, and more often than not, a desk. According to Logitech, this lack of comfort leads to shorter conversations and, as it were, less virtual quality time with friends and loved ones, and all that just because one tends to get somewhat strained from sitting in the right position in front of the camera.
The TV Cam HD has been designed to remedy this situation. This is one webcam you can connect directly to your television set, with the image displayed on your (hopefully) very large screen, while you yourself are comfortably seated on (or draped over) a couch or chair. At the moment the TV Cam HD offers 'plain HD' resolution, but it is capable of recording full HD images. It is Skype that so far does not support higher resolutions, so Logitech has left out full HD recording for now, offering it via a firmware upgrade once Skype can utilise it.
One thing the TV Cam HD is not, and that's cheap. The sticker price is £179 and that seems a lot for what essentially looks like a webcam. A big reason for the hefty price tag is that it is in fact much more than just that. For what appears to be a simple device at first glance, it actually contains some pretty impressive technology. In addition to the HD sensor and a very good wide-angle lens, it features an advanced four microphone array as well as its own processor and operating system. It needs the latter to work as an independent unit: in fact this thing is a miniature computer built into an over-sized webcam. It also has both wired and wireless network interfaces, which make it a device more in a class with IP cameras than webcams, a rather more pricey product category. When you view it like this, the TV Cam HD is not that expensive at all. In the end, only one factor determines whether a device is priced right or not: does it do what it promises to do - and does it offer enough quality and easy of use? In order to find that out, we set up two of these cameras and started, well, Skyping.