Business Technology

Friday 22 August 2014

A picture paints a thousand words, and needn't break the bank

Adrian Weckler

Published 30/03/2014 | 02:30

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Logitech Pro Webcam
Microsoft Lifecam
HP HD4310

WHILE most people shudder at the thought of video-calls on their phones, it can sometimes be a different story at work.

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Video-conferencing is an increasingly accepted way for businesses with offices overseas to have meetings remotely. The golden standard remains systems such as Cisco Webex. Unfortunately, these are well out of the price range of most Irish small- to medium-sized firms.

Instead, free or cheap alternatives such as Google Hangout are being preferred. But one thing that is worth investing in is a decent camera attachment. While laptops (and some desktop PC monitors) now come with cameras, many of them are pretty feeble at 1.3 megapixels (or weaker). Here are four affordable high definition PC cameras for your company's online meeting.

HP HD 4310, €50

If you have a couple of office branches full of PCs that need to be kitted out, every euro saved on peripherals such as an HD camera represents a decent saving.

In this context, HP's basic HD 4310 model is a competent camera that will work with most common online video-conferencing or messaging services. The HP's built-in microphone is adequate, if not impressive, while its 13-megapixel camera also allows you to take snapshots.

Microsoft Lifecam Studio for Business, €70

If you're looking for a decent, reliable, high definition PC camera on a modest budget, I found this one worth a go.

It's been around a while, but is still available as a standard workhorse at an acceptable minimum quality. The USB-connected camera has a built-in microphone and 'full' high definition (1080p). It will work with just about any PC.

Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920, €100

If you want to get a little fancier within the standard HD level, Logitech's HD Pro Webcam C920 adds a bit of extra audio-visual prowess to proceedings for a few euro more.

It packs dual stereo microphones, meaning slightly better voice pick-up. The auto-focusing system on it is also a little more advanced, while its 15-megapixel lens compliments H.264 support, meaning fewer issues with pesky PC drivers.

This is a decent buy.

V7 Vantage 3000 €7

If you genuinely don't need an HD camera and your laptop or PC monitor doesn't come with one pre-installed, this bargain basement option will get you conferencing for the price of two large coffees.

Despite its dashing name, V7's Vantage 3000 is limited to a 0.3 megapixel, VGA picture that will be make things look less than crisp if your background lighting is poor or you gesticulate too quickly.

It does have a microphone built in, though.

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