Software Review: Logitech's QuickCam

By Jayne A. Hitchcock
as it appeared in the September/October 2000 issue of LINK-UP

I’d been curious about web cameras for a while, having visited web sites where folks set up cameras on themselves, gardens, bird feeders and more. I thought it’d be kind of neat to try out one of these cameras. After checking out a few product sites, I selected Logitech’s QuickCam Web because it was shaped differently than most others (almost square), looked easy to install and hook up and the price was right - just $79.00 (although I saw it going for as much as $99.95).

I was right about the set-up - it was very easy. All I had to do was plug the camera into a free USB port, install the software and I was off!

Following the instructions after the software was installed was simple; Logitech pretty much holds your hand through the whole process. I was instructed to update the software, which I did and found it now included SpotLife (which I’ll get to later). Once I had passed the testing phase for audio and video, I was ready to record video e-mails, put together my own webcam page and more.

    There are five options when using the QuickCam software:
  1. Create pictures and video - You can take a “photo” or a video of yourself (and others). I had a friend over who is a producer with A&E Investigative Reports. I convinced her to let me shoot a video and the two of us giggled through the whole thing, then e-mailed it to a co-worker of hers at A&E. The video, although only 11 seconds, it came out to be 206kb compressed in MPEG format and took about 3 minutes to send with my 56k modem. I heard later that just about everyone saw the video and thought it was hilarious. She’s now in Hong Kong.
    I tried a few photos of myself sticking my tongue out and being generally goofy (taken in 320x240 mode; you can also take photos in 160x120 or 640x480, but the former is not as good quality and the latter will be too big of a file when you e-mail it or put it on a web page). But I can see where they would definitely come in handy for taking quick photos of a newborn baby, new pet in the household, the kids doing various things (dressed up for Halloween, graduation cap & gown, prom night, etc), showing off something you’re especially proud and so on. Then e-mail the photo to whoever you want.
    After taking the photo, you just double-click on the image in the box on the right of the screen, bringing up the QuickCam Image Editor. You can then crop the image, add type using regular fonts or a calligraphy tool, rotate the image, use special effects such as solarize (negative image), oilify (look like an oil painting) and blur, change the colors, brightness, etc. Ask my editor - I sent her two photos, one untouched, the other solarized and they look pretty cool.
  2. Create a video e-mail - See number 1 and the test I performed. Once you’ve filmed the video, you can go frame by frame and save a certain frame, save in another format (the default is .avi, but you can change the compression rate and what format. I found MPEG to be the best for me, but others have used JPEG compression, INDEO and others available.
  3. Create a Web album - Go through your gallery of photos and videos, then put them together as a web album which will become a web page. You can change the background color and/or add a pattern to it, give the web page a name, then preview the page in your web browser before publishing.
  4. Create a Web Cam - For the exhibitionist in you or your garden, pets, whatever. After selecting the screen capture size (I recommend 320x240), making sure your QuickCam is where you want it to be, you click on START and a connection to the net will automatically begin, then you follow the instructions from there and you’re live on the web 24 hours a day (or as long as you’re online)!
  5. Broadcast Now - This is an interesting feature and allows you to schedule your very own live broadcast via a site called SpotLife. Now you can be the star of your own mini movie, play your favorite instrument, read from a favorite book or your own writings, sing, or just talk about whatever. Notify your friends, family and whoever when and where the broadcast will take place and make sure you’re there at the same time. SpotLife gives you your own URL, you can have live chat while you broadcast so that you and others can “converse,” and generally have a good time. I tried it with some of my writing friends and it was a hoot.
  6. Look at my gallery - Look at what you have, either photos or videos, turn them in wallpaper for your monitor screen, attach to an e-mail or edit the image(s).

    I think the eeriest thing is when first opening QuickCam - a box appears on the left with a live video feed of me. I still find it hard to realize that’s really me “on camera.” One thing I learned - never open QuickCam first thing in the morning before you’ve had coffee.

    Well, that may be the second eeriest thing. The first would be when I tried to go to a few web sites where you can chat live via video/audio with other folks. I’d heard great things about CUSeeMe, so I went to their site. I did have to download some software, which didn’t take long, and had to register. I filled in only minimal information, but you can write anything you want about yourself for others to see when you go live. I went to the “Testing” section to try out my camera and make sure it worked, but I couldn’t tell if it did or not. There are three small black boxes near the top of the pop-up window that appears. I assumed mine would be one of them so that I could see myself and test my audio as well as make sure I was sitting in front of the camera correctly. When that didn’t happen, I decided to check out a few of the rooms. This was done at 10 in the morning. I found one room which looked interesting, called SuperWomen, for women who juggle a family, career, etc. I logged into the room and the first three videos I see are all men. And they all looked creepy. Ugh. I followed what little instructions the site had, closed those three boxes, then went through the list of participants in the room and selected three new ones. This sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t. And still it was only men. I think I was the only woman in there. There aren’t a lot of rooms available, but if you’re into chat (which I am not), then this might be your cup of tea.

    My only regret was that I couldn’t find a friend who had a webcam to try a one-on-one video “conference.” That’s where I can see this coming in very handy - see and talk to relatives and friends who live in other states and countries, be generally goofy or conduct business.

    But all in all, for $79.00, Logitech’s QuickCam Web is a steal, easy to set up and highly recommended. For more information, visit QuickCam Web

    J.A. Hitchcock is a regular contributor to Compute Me. Visit her web site at

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