Snow Leopard thaws my Logitech webcam mike!

Speak up... I CAN hear you!

Speak up... I CAN hear you!

While I’ve upgraded my Mac Mini to Snow Leopard 10.6, I haven’t yet taken the plunge on my 2008 Mac Pro. This is mainly because I am bug testing some iPhoto software for someone and it would be unfair to change the underlying OS half way through as it would most likely just confuse matters. However, I do now have my Western Digital Caviar ‘Black’ 1Tb drive and so with an hour or so to spare I removed the existing 4 drives and popped it in, just to see how a fresh install of Snow Leopard would run on a Mac Pro.

The installation recognized my Logitech MX Revolution Mouse and Logitech diNovo Keyboard Mac Edition (both plugged in using a Logitech wireless USB dongle), so it was simply a matter of answering a few questions and waiting. Once installed, a Software Update for Remote Screen installed itself, then I was left to play for a while. The Logitech Control Centre v3.0 software refused to install (there is a workaround), so I was unable to use any of the extended features of my keyboard or mouse, however there was some good news about another of my Logitech peripherals.

Logitech QuickCam Vision Pro

Logitech QuickCam Vision Pro

My Logitech QuickCam Vision Pro now works with Snow Leopard’s built-in speech recognition!! Under Leopard 10.5.x, the microphone in this webcam simply refused to work with the Mac’s built-in speech recognition software. It would work fine with other apps like Skype, iChat, etc., and your voice would even register in the OS X speech recognition window, but getting the Mac to recognize anything was impossible and it was a widely reported problem. However, under Snow Leopard I decided to give it another go and what do you know – it worked! Off I went, quoting the phrases on the calibration panel… What time is it? Quit this application. Open a document… and so on. Each one registered first time and I was then able to use speech recognition as I’d always wanted. I am now wondering if the mike will work with MacSpeech Dictate under Snow Leopard? Who knows.

Eventually the time came to stop experimenting and put the Mac Pro back to Leopard 10.5.8. Naturally once I’d put all the original drives back I tried out speech recognition with the webcam and it steadfastly refused to play ball. I am wondering if I upgraded from 10.5.8 to 10.6 rather than doing a fresh install, whether or not the webcam mike would still work with the Mac’s speech recognition? Maybe that’s an experiment for next week…

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My (all things Apple) wish list

While I ponder whether or not the Logitech QuickCam Vision Pro was such a good purchase, I thought I might bore the world with my Apple/Mac wish list. So here (in no particular order) are the things I wish were different in my Mac-esque world:

  1. A Logitech webcam with a microphone that supports OS X Speech Recognition.
  2. A ‘watch folder(s)’ feature in iTunes.
  3. Better (more intelligent) integration of OS X ‘Spaces’ on dual-monitor setups.
  4. An iPhone with a user-changeable battery.
  5. iPhones available on any UK network.
  6. An AT&T client for OS X.
  7. A choice of reasonably priced USB/Firewire add-in cards for the Mac Pro.
  8. A second CPU upgrade option for Mac Pro users with (only) one 4-core processor.
  9. A Mac Mini with easily upgradeable RAM and that supports more than 2Gb.
  10. A Blu-Ray DVD upgrade for the Mac Pro.
  11. An end to the $1 = £1 exchange rate on technology products (OK, maybe I pushed the scope of this list a little bit).
  12. Outlook to MobileMe syncing in Windows, WITHOUT having to install iTunes.
  13. Colour-coded categories in iCal.
  14. Better control of Time Machine built-in to OS X (I know you can get 3rd party add-ons, but this really should be built-in).
  15. Better login support for mapping SMB shares, not this Login Items bodge.
  16. A proper tree view in Finder. (I use Mac Rage, but it’s not ideal).
  17. A two or even three button mouse made by Apple!
  18. An Apple wireless keyboard with the same key layout as the wired one.
  19. At least one eSATA port on the Mac Pro.
  20. And finally (for now)… an Apple PVR/Blu-Ray DVD Recorder that supports DiVX, mp3, DVBT, FreeSat, has HDMI 1.3a, etc., etc., …and the bank balance to buy such a monster!

Logitech – stop what you’re doing, I like it.

Logitech seem to be waking up to the world of the Mac, and I’m pleased. But at the same time I’m banging my head against the wall because they’re releasing Mac versions of Windows/PC products I’ve already purchased!!

Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000

Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000

It started with my Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000 – a darned fine webcam with superb resolution, autofocus, face tracking and the like. Only problem is that when you hook it up to a Mac as I have now done, you loose those ‘extra’ features and it becomes a vanilla (albeit very good) webcam. Several months down the line and Logitech have launched the Mac-specific QuickCam Vision Pro which has exactly the same spec and features as it’s Windows/PC sibling. However, the sad news is that if like me you’ve got the PC version, it’s not a case of simply installing a set of Mac drivers or doing a firmware upgrade to enable the features you’ve lost. The Mac version of the camera must be subtly different, so if you want the extra features back then the only option right now is to give your QuickCam Pro 9000 to a well deserving friend and go out and buy the Mac specific QuickCam Vision Pro.

Spot the difference!

Spot the difference!

That I could probably handle – let’s call it my birthday present to myself.

But that’s not the end of it… if you’ve read my mutterings of late, you’ll know I recently hooked up my 9 month old Logitech DiNovo Edge keyboard to my Mac, and was really pleased with the results. It’s about 80% there with just the extended function keys not working – oh and the fact that it’s a Windows keyboard with Windows specific keys. Even so I was pretty smug what with my favourite keyboard working with my favourite computer. That was until I saw today’s announcement that a Mac version of the DiNovo Edge is now available!! Yes it’s got the same gorgeous design as the earlier version, but it’s got Mac keys and it’s 100% Mac compatible, so I’d get my extended function keys back.

Logitech DiNovo Edge Mac

Logitech DiNovo Edge Mac

Is there any way for users of the Windows version to get everything working on the Mac? Well I’ve already installed the latest version of the Logitech Control Centre software for the Mac and the answer seems to be “No”. The software simply doesn’t recognize the keyboard meaning that you’re getting native keyboard support from OS X and so have no way to configure those extra keys.

Will I rush out and buy the Mac DiNovo Edge? My heart says yes, but the head says no (at the moment), because at $159 (and probably the same in £ Sterling – thankyou rip-off Britain!) it’s not a cheap purchase.

Damn you Logitech. You’re doing the right thing but you’re costing me a packet!

Logitech – Old camera, new clothes?

Mac VersionLogitech have just announced a new webcam made specifically for the Mac, with the tongue-twisting name QuickCam Vision Pro webcam for Mac. When I heard the news I almost fell over myself to go and check out the press-release, but when I saw a picture of it I had to feel a little let down.

You see, back in March I purchased a Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000 – a splendid little zooming, auto-focusing, face detecting little unit for Windows users, but merely a high quality static camera for the Mac with a microphone that refuses to work with MacSpeech. Well blow me if this latest addition to their webcam line up looks very similar to my QuickCam Pro 9000. Ok, apart from the colour it looks IDENTICAL. So what about the specs?

  • USB 2.0 connection – check.
  • 2 megapixel sensor – check.
  • Autofocus – check.
  • Carl Zeiss® lens- check.
  • Up to 30 frames per second- check.
  • 960 x 720 pixels – check.
  • Built-in microphone – check.

So what we’re looking at here seems to be the Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000 with a silver bezel on the front, a proper Mac driver and perhaps some upgraded firmware. So does this mean that users like me will be able to use that driver to regain theWindows Version extra features currently lost under OS X? I suspect not, well not unless you can upgrade the firmware in the Pro 9000 to match it’s Mac stablemate. I say that because news is that the new Mac version of the camera will NOT work with Windows, suggesting that the firmware is indeed different. (If it was simply a fancy-coloured Pro 9000 then it would work under Windows with the right driver).

Sadly I suspect that Mac owners of the current QuickCam Pro 9000 like me, will be stuck with their feature-locked cameras and the only option will be to sell them and buy the new Mac model if they want those features back. Life’s like that when it comes to computers.