With the advent of easy-to-use video conferencing, webcams have become a necessity; however, it's getting tougher to find that one, perfect webcam that fits all your criteria without going overboard. Logitech has consistently released high-quality webcams and while it's not perfect, their Orbit MP comes closer than any other camera before it, offering a broad spectrum of options and goodies to make your webcam experiences the best they've ever been.
The Orbit MP comes with a variety of accessories, including a headset, a camera base, and a 9' stand (if you want to get the MP closer to eye level on your desk). Setting up the camera on your desk doesn't take up a lot of space (great for those wanting to save precious real estate on their desks), and the base is heavy and sturdy enough that you won't worry about the camera tipping over if you choose to use the stand. Also, the camera boasts a built in microphone if you don't feel comfortable using the headset.
Logitech has given consumers a very user-friendly webcam in the Orbit MP, making the not-so-tech-savvy more comfortable with webcam technology. Used in tandem with a messaging program like MSN Messenger, I was able to set up a video conference with the push of a button. Options offered cover a wide range; there's a 'low light' option that will instantly boost your video quality if you don't have a lot of light available, and there are plenty of color correction options for perfectionists to tinker with. The camera's output quality is great; images transmitted never looked grainy or washed out, and it was fantastic at capturing true light and excellent picture quality, whether it was in video or still camera format. There's also an automatic face tracking option, which will allow the camera to follow your movements. It works well, but I wish the response time was a little bit faster, as it took a short pause for the camera to catch up with my movements. Other than the slight lag issue, the tracking works well for users that are always on the go, or don't want to keep adjusting their webcam's lens every time they shift in their seat.
Adding to the list of cool add-ons the Orbit MP has are Video Effects, a series of plug-ins for users that include accessories they can 'wear' on their virtual faces, and fully rendered avatars that smile, blink, and move through mimicking your facial expressions. It sounds strange (and it's hilarious the first time you use it), but the Video Effects add something special to this webcam in a way I hadn't expected. Avatars come in fun forms like a shark, a gingerbread man, a unicorn, and an alien. You're able to calibrate your face, and your chosen avatar will respond according to your expressions. Accessories use your actual face in the image, and will stick themselves to your beautiful visage. There's crazy eyebrows, nerd glasses, hats, moustaches' whatever tickles your fancy. These effects definitely make for a more interesting webcam experience.
One of the biggest issues I had while using the Orbit MP was after installing the drivers, I had some conflict on my computer with DirectX, and wasn't able to run some games and a few programs that required DirectX 9.0c. The only thing that fixed this problem was rolling back my system to a previous restore point, and that certainly is a major hurdle Logitech needs to tackle. Hopefully, they'll rectify this with a driver update that doesn't cause DirectX conflicts with up-to-date PCs.
Driver problems aside, the Orbit MP is a fabulous camera. It's got enough options and fun add-ons to keep users occupied for quite a while. At $129, it may be slightly pricey for casual users, but if you want high video quality and broad options, you're getting a lot of bang for your buck with the Orbit MP.
Click here to learn more about the Logitech Orbit MP