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25 Days of Gadgets - Day 17

December 17, 2008 - Dave Hecei
If you have a newer iMac or one of the MacBook varieties, then congratulations, your Mac has a built-in webcam. If you own a Mac mini, Mac Pro, or an older PowerPC Mac then you probably don’t have a webcam. A webcam is a small video camera used for video chats or teleconferences. Unfortunately Apple no longer sells the amazing, although a bit expensive, iSight Firewire webcam. Originally sold for $150, the iSight can occasionally be found on Ebay for almost twice that. While Apple no longer makes an add-on iSight camera anymore, an alternative is one of the many USB webcams designed to work with Windows PCs.

The problem is that most PC webcams only have software for PCs and most will not work at all on a Mac. Luckily there are a few that will, with the latest versions of OS X Tiger or Leopard. There is a special type of webcam called UVC or USB Video Class. This is a new standard and will plug and play on a Mac and work with programs like iChat, AOL IM, Yahoo Messenger, and Skype without any additional software or drivers.

One UVC webcam that stands out is the Logitech Quickcam Pro 9000. This webcam has a Carl Zeiss lens and built-in microphone. It has a 2-megapixel sensor for higher resolution images and video. The lens is autofocusing and will self adjust brightness so it works better than most in lower light situations. Since there is no control software available you cannot manually tweak any of the settings - like color, brightness, and contrast.

The Quickcam Pro 9000 has a stand that also acts as a clip allowing it to either set it on a desk or mount onto an LCD monitor. It has a 6-foot long USB cable which should allow it to be placed almost anywhere on your desk. The small size allows you to pack it with a laptop for traveling, for those older PowerBooks.

It’s too bad that Apple had to discontinue the Firewire iSight. It’s really too bad that they didn’t replace it with anything else. If you are looking for a way to video chat with your friends or family this holiday season, then the Logitech Quickcam Pro 9000 might be the perfect answer.


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