Webcams Are Easy Even in a Smart Phone World
With the smart phone revolution, the webcam market has changed significantly. In the early days of instant online communication, connecting a webcam to an existing desktop or laptop computer set up was the easiest way to achieve face-to-face communication with friends and family from around the world.
Now, the average person walks around with a high-resolution camera in their pocket all the time in the form of a smart phone. Not only that, but apps exist to allow video-to-video calls streaming right to your smart phone screen. With such seamless technology, using a webcam at all might seem overly complicated or even unnecessary these days.
Nevertheless, webcams do still have their place and can be an easy-to-use solution depending on your needs. Let's take a look at the three main kinds of webcams still in common use in 2015.
Online Security Webcams
By 2014, the webcam market had taken such a downturn that many of the popular tech review sites paid virtually no attention to webcams at all except when it comes to those specifically designed for security and surveillance purposes.
Standouts in this category include Logitech's Alert line of indoor and outdoor webcam enabled security cameras and the Dropcam Pro.
The Dropcam Pro is one of the most popular web-based surveillance cameras on the market, and for good reason. This easy-to-use security webcam boasts a mere 60 second set up. Forget about bothersome installation disks, searching for drivers, or other set-up headaches. Just connect the Dropcam Pro to your computer via USB, and from there you can set up the camera to connect directly to your home Wi-Fi network. Next, you'll create an account and can begin streaming and recording from your Dropcam Pro immediately.
It's certainly a very easy to use webcam, but unfortunately, there is one pretty big catch when it comes to the Dropcam Pro. You can view your camera stream for free from any Internet capable device, but in order to record the stream, you'll need to sign up for the optional Dropcam cloud recording service. There's no way to simply record your camera stream to a computer hard drive or external storage, which may well be a dealbreaker for some despite the camera's ease-of-use in other areas. While this might be a major downside for those looking to provide their own video storage, it certainly makes things easier for those who would prefer a seamless solution making it the perfect choice if ease-of-use is your main concern.
Logitech offers pricier, somewhat more complicated to use, but significantly more comprehensive options when it comes to security webcams. The Logitech Master System allows you to easily install both indoor and outdoor security cameras, all connected to a central control hub. And, as we've come to expect from Logitech, all of the devices are extremely compatible with current computers and programs and install quickly using industry-leading drivers and apps. You can view your security cam stream on your local computer or over the web.
The Master System comes with a HomePlug adapter that lets you use your electrical outlets to transmit the video stream from your camera to your computer, eliminating the need to run bothersome wires throughout the inside and outside of your home. It doesn't get much easier than that!
Portable Laptop and Desktop Webcams
Most small, portable webcams on the market are compatible with both laptop and desktop computers, although some are specifically designed to work only with PC or Mac products. In general, though, any webcam released by a major manufacturer in the last two years or so will be compatible with most computers and online services like Skype, YouTube, Snapchat, and Vine. And, in most cases, these webcams will be pretty simple to use.
Even with an array of fairly simple and straightforward webcams on the market, it's obvious that some webcams are going to be easier to use than others. Furthermore, just because it's easy to set up, install, and begin to use a webcam doesn't mean that it will necessarily be smooth sailing going forward.
Most people will want to be able to easily upload their pictures and videos to social networking sites, and although this is certainly possible with any portable webcam, Logitech's line of webcams have built-in features to make this easier. In fact, the C310 Logitech HD webcam, and many other webcams in the C line, even offer one-click uploads to sites like Facebook and YouTube. The HD Pro webcam C920 offers similar one-click features, but at an even higher resolution of up to 1080p.
Logitech looms so large in the webcam market that it can be difficult to find any truly worthy competitors to the crown. The Microsoft line of LifeCam webcams are worth a look even if they won't be taking over the top spot anytime soon. Microsoft has packed some nice stuff into a barrel-shaped package, with high-quality audio pickup and automatic color correction. And, just as with the Logitech cameras, installing a LifeCam should essentially be an easy plug-and-play affair.
Both Logitech and Microsoft webcams are compatible with PCs and Macs, although some users report reduced performance when using the Microsoft products with Mac systems.
HD TV webcams
Pairing webcam technology with large screen HD televisions allows you to communicate with friends and family live and on a large-format display, but the options for doing this without adding a computer to the mix are fairly limited.
The FreeTalk Conference HD Camera is compatible with select Panasonic televisions, blue disc players, and Blu-ray 3-D home theater systems. Installing the camera on compatible devices and connecting to Skype is about as simple as it gets. The only real downside here, and it's a big one, is simply that the camera isn't compatible with televisions in general.
Logitech offers a similar camera called the Logitech TV Cam for Skype. It offers the same plug-and-play set up, dual long-range microphones, and a noise canceling feature. The Logitech model, as well, only works with select Pansonic televisions.
Webcams Are Easier to Use Than Ever in 2015
Overall, Logitech comes out ahead as the clear winner when it comes to easy-to-use webcams. With a reputation as one of the best manufacturers of computer accessories and consistently good customer service and ease-of-use, choosing a Logitech webcam in 2015, whether for security, portable use, or crystal-clear HD quality streaming on your television, makes good sense.