Logitech QuickCam Vision Pro

Logitech QuickCam Vision Pro

Logitech QuickCam Vision Pro

Some time back, I bought a Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000 for my Windows PC and ultimately moved it on to my Mac when that became my ‘main’ machine. It worked pretty well a few notable exceptions – the ‘intelligent face tracking’, RightSound and digital zoom features didn’t work (as these required the Windows software to work), and the camera’s built-in mike didn’t work with OS X’s speech recognition, although it worked fine with other OS X applications like Skype. Other than that I was pretty pleased with the results, and friends in Skype commented on how clear and sharp the picture was.

In the continuing story of Logitech realizing there’s a world outside Windows, they released the QuickCam Vision Pro which is essentially the exact same camera but for the Mac. In my usual way, I justified to myself that I could relegate the Pro 9000 back to my Windows PC and buy a shiny new Vision Pro with all it’s juicy Mac-goodness.

Now if I were a synical person I’d say that all they’ve done is put a new silver bezel on the front of the Pro 9000, changed the activity light from orange to white, and shipped it out without any software, so it should be slightly cheaper right? No, even without the extra features of it’s Windows sibling it costs the same, so is it a good buy?

What's in the box?

What's in the box?

Well the picture is as good as ever, naturally as the lens etc., is exactly the same. The RightLight feature adjusts the exposure to compensate for bright or dark situations pretty well, and the microphone while working fine with Skype, still refuses to work properly with the OS X speech recognition system. If you look in the Apple support forums you’ll see there are lots of users complaining about their Logitech cameras not  working with OS X’s built-in speech recognition. The other slightly worrying thing is that while the QuickCam Pro 9000 was actually recognized by OS X as a ‘Logitech Camera’, this Mac-specific version shows up simply as ‘unknown USB audio device’ – not terribly helpful, and perhaps indicative of what you’re getting.

So it boils down to two questions really – which one to buy if you’re a Mac user? Well if I’m honest, either one will serve you just fine. If like me, your webcam is going to sit on top of a monitor in a reasonably well lit room, then the RightLight technology is pretty much superfluous, and there’s little else to separate the two in everyday use. In fact if you own a Windows PC as well as a Mac then you can use the Pro 900 on either with good results. Similarly, if you already use the QuickCam Pro 9000 on your Mac is it worth changing to the QuickCam Vision Pro? In that case I would say it’s a definite ‘No’. The product smacks a little bit of Logitech just jumping on the Mac bandwagon by re-badging a Windows product. How difficult would it have been for them to port the face-tracking and digital zoom software feature across to the Mac? Likewise, had they ensured the built-in mike actually worked with OS X’s speech recognition feature, the camera would have been all the more useful.

No software required!

No software required!

I get the same impression with Logitech’s Mac version of the DiNovo Edge keyboard. It’s a Windows product that they’ve dumbed down and rebadged for the Mac community.

Still, I guess they’re showing willing which is more than some companies are doing.