Although this camera's heavy notebook focus limits its versatility, it excels in nearly every area to provide superior performance. If you're looking for a webcam for your notebook, look no further than the QuickCam Pro.
Some webcams try to stand out with their innovative design; others introduce secondary features intended to grab your attention. Logitech went for a different approach with their pro-series webcams: as sharp as possible, as often as possible. To achieve their goal, they contracted well-known optics maker Carl Zeiss to engineer the lenses, and built a new autofocus system designed to sharpen out-of-focus images as quickly and smoothly as possible. Is the result worth choosing Logitech over competing products such as the Creative Live! Cam Optia AF? Let's find out.
As you might gather from the name, Logitech built the QuickCam Pro for Notebooks with laptop users in mind; something that's immediately obvious when you see the webcam's mounting clip (rubber edged for less wear and tear on laptop screens) and the two-foot USB cord. The clip actually opens to a health 8/10ths of a inch thick, which makes it large enough to fit on top of some standard LCD monitors, but the short USB cord means that you're better off using it with a notebook. Normally I'm not a fan of notebook-only webcams (I think they're limiting), but Logitech partially sidesteps the issue by including a foot-high camera stand that comes in three pieces for easy portability. Unfortunately, the camera's short cable length means even with the stand, you're only likely to be able to use the QuickCam Pro for Notebooks with a desktop if you have an easily accessible hub with 500 mA of available power.
The QuickCam Pro for Notebooks includes a microphone that's built into the front of the camera, in a slot right above the lens. Further up along the camera's surface - right above the snazzy Logitech logo, picked out in a silver-gray - is an orange activity LED, which lights up when the camera is active. Finally, Logitech included a button at the top of the camera that triggers the camera - setting off a shutter noise through the camera software - to take a still picture at the current settings.
The camera comes with a 12 inch stand for use with a desktop.
The QuickCam Pro for Notebooks mounted on top of a notebook (left); and the camera, mounted on the assembled stand (right).
One issue that webcam designs have to address is maneuverability: how easy is it to get the camera to point at your face from the right angle? I've seen some interesting adaptations in the past - the Live! Cam Optia AF's ball and socket mounting joint comes to mind - but for notebook use, the QuickCam Notebook Pro takes the cake for ease of use: the rubber edges of the clip make it very easy to slide the camera along the upper surface of the screen until it's in position - it even slides over the latch that keeps the notebook closed - and the clip's hinge offers about 75 degrees of vertical movement. Both the clip and the hinge are easy to move, but are tight enough to hold the camera in place. However, I would like Logitech to improve the design of the clip itself; in its current arrangement, you need to pry the clip apart with your fingers (instead of squeezing a handle, as you'd expect with a spring-based system) and fit it over the surface of the screen.
As with other webcams, Logitech QuickCam Software package handles all of the media you produce with the webcam. There are two components to the QuickCam Software: the QuickCapture window, which combines the feed from the camera with image quality options, still and moving video recording buttons, video options like video length, timestamping, and recording delay, and a gallery of your photos and videos. A separate control bar pops out windows for advanced controls, including zoom, tilting/panning, color settings, focus settings, face tracking, and audio levels, along with options to enable the QuickCam Software's sets of video effects and privacy shades. There's also an applications section that gives you access to third-party tools like Windows Movie Maker or HP PhotoSmart Essential, Skype, YouTube, and VideoSnap, which hooks video into eBay listings. Logitech also included a link to their shop to get you to buy more QuickCams, presumably in an effort to gather in excited users as they're using the products. The link isn't obtrusive, but it's still a little obnoxious.
Besides that one flaw, however, I'm pretty impressed with QuickCam Software: it's intuitive, well-organized, and responds quick to commands. The inclusion of both the video and audio mute buttons and the video effects options on the control bar simultaneously declutters the main window and adds everyday usefulness to the control bar, which I've found makes me less likely to close it than I have with control bars in other webcam software packages.