The Wireless Webcam
Wireless webcam is a term which is not so popular in the tech industry. Everyone is used to wired USB cameras for video chats and since every new laptop has a built-in webcam, only professionals purchase webcams for video conferencing. Professionals most often use specialized video conferencing cameras with IP streaming or UVC or HDMI streaming.
Logitech Broadcaster Wi-Fi Webcam
Wireless webcams were introduced in 2012 but due to negative reviews they didn't see the light of day. Logitech the renowned manufacturer of webcams launched Logitech Broadcaster Wi-Fi webcam developed for Mac devices. The webcam was specifically designed for broadcasters who use cameras for live streaming on platforms such as UStream. It offers many features including:
- One-touch live broadcasting on UStream
- Dual-camera recording using both Mac's built-in webcam and Logitech camera
- Multi-view webcam calls
- Wireless range up to 50 feet
- Supports all major apps such as Skype, FaceTime and iChat
- 720p video recording
- H.264 encoding
- Logitech Fluid Crystal technology
The major factor fueling its downfall was not being compatible with Windows PCs. The majority of people use Windows PCs and if your webcam does not support them then you are unable to take advantage of a major chunk of the industry. Since it was first of its kind, it needed some major improvements in terms of video quality and wireless setup.
A smartphone camera produced better video quality compared to Logitech's Broadcaster Wi-Fi webcam. This was highly disappointing for the user because Logitech is known for making excellent webcams and it did not produce the quality they expected. A tripod and a smartphone app can help users stream live videos on any platform so this webcam needed to be superior in order to be successful.
Transmitting video wirelessly is no easy task and requires expensive wireless equipment to operate. Most cameras with built-in wireless transmitter are not great performers because the video stutters or lags due to interference in the wireless network. At that time only 2.4 GHz wireless networks were available which had a slow data speed and major connection issues due to interference in the network. Yet another reason why wireless webcams failed to impress potential users. Given the price point of wireless webcams and non-availability of wireless technology they failed to capture the attention of the industry.
eCamm BT-1 by Mac
The eCamm BT-1 wireless webcam, designed by Mac, suffered the same fate as the Logitech wireless webcams. This Bluetooth camera had no better video quality than the pre-installed webcam that comes installed on almost every Mac computer which left mac users with little incentive to pay $149 for an extra camera. Along with the video quality it could not ensure smooth video streaming without interruption from network interference. Even with Apple's very loyal customer base, the company could not get their wireless webcam to trend on the market and their attempt failed miserably only adding to the wireless webcam stigma. When such a big name in technology failed to bring about the wireless webcam era about, it should have been a sign to other companies that the market for personal wireless webcams just was not there.
Adesso CyberTrack V10 Wireless Camera
Another wireless camera which surfaced around the same time but did not make an impact was Adesso's CyberTrack V10 wireless camera. It used the same 2.4 GHz wireless technology via an USB transmitter. On paper, Adesso CyberTrack had even poorer specifications compared to Logitech Broadcaster Wi-Fi webcam. It only recorded videos in VGA resolution with a 1.3 megapixels camera. It was an affordable solution if you really wanted a wireless webcam but in terms of performance it did not impress.
Since then we haven't seen many wireless webcams because video conferencing gained popularity and major players entered the market. Large corporations wanted the best solution and manufacturers came up with specialized video conferencing cameras that supported IP Streaming. These cameras have amazing video quality and provide different video outputs including – HDMI, SD-HDI, USB 3.0 and RJ-45. The optical zoom as well as pan, tilt and zoom features made them ideal for virtual meetings thus the webcam industry dealt with a major blow.
If you are lucky, then you can still find some cheap Chinese wireless webcams but they will be not be worth using for video conferencing. If someone really needs a wireless webcam then the best solution is to look at offerings from video conferencing camera manufacturers. These professional cameras do not have any latency and quality issues plus they work with all major softwares such as Skype, Cisco Jabber, WebEx, Webcam suites and many more.
These professional cameras can also serve a dual purpose of security as well as video conferencing. With the help of third party applications, you can utilize the wireless streaming of cameras such as HuddleCam Air and use it as a security camera as well as a VTC camera.
Specially designed wireless security cameras do not work with video conferencing applications so products such as HuddleCam HD are the best options available. These cameras are quite expensive compared to wireless webcams but they offer dozens of additional features and excellent performance.
HuddleCam Air HD Features:
- HuddleCam HD USB AIR
- USB 3.0 port
- 12x or 20x optical zoom
- 1080p resolution
- 72/55 degree field of view
- 64 presets
- IR Remote & RS-232
- Ceiling mount is optional
- 0.5 Lux
- Zero Latency receiver
As you can see in the features above, Huddle Cam HD Air features up to 20x optical zoom and records at 1080p resolution. It also comes with an IR remote to control the pan, tilt and zoom features of the camera. It is an excellent choice for wireless video conferencing in large rooms.
The personal wireless webcam is a dead and is unlikely to be revived due to the low market demand and high price point. However, in the professional world of video conferencing there is the exception of the HuddleCam HD USB Air, for it provides the high quality video performance of a wired USB camera with out all of the wires making for easy installation. While Logitech and other wireless webcam producers have been ruled irrelevant in a world of smart phones, tablets, and laptops, the professional wireless video conferencing camera by HuddleCamHD offers a standard of quality and business class functionality that a tablet or smartphone could never match. With stronger and more reliable networks and improved technology the HuddleCamHD Air is proving to be the revival of the wireless webcam.