With teleconferencing, a tightening travel budget doesn't have to mean less face time with clients or co-workers. And teleconferencing doesn't have to mean choppy, distracted meetings thanks to the Logitech ConferenceCam CC3000e. Released in January, the $999 system sets up in minutes and delivers 1,080p video using familiar apps such as Cisco Jabber, Microsoft Lync, Skype or whatever's handy.
Logitech's latest ConferenceCam works through the USB port of an existing Mac or Windows PC. It can be set up in a conference room and plugged and unplugged from laptops brought in by users of the room as needed, just like a projector. No drivers are required; just plug it into a USB 2.0 or 3.0 port and it works.
To test the unit, we connected it first to an Ultrabook running Windows 8.1, which comes with Skype 2.4.0 preinstalled. Without configuring anything or changing any settings, we were able to connect to our existing Skype account (although Microsoft required us to merge it with our WindowsLive account) and call the Skype test account. Incoming sound was loud and clear but the message we recorded was choppy. A trip to the settings page informed us that the system was using the laptop's internal mic. Switching to Logitech's speakerphone solved that problem and the preference was picked up on subsequent connections. Sound in both directions was incredibly loud and crystal clear.
Now to test the camera. We connected to a fellow Skype user via the Internet. The picture was sharp, with no network lag, image jaggies or pixelation. One "pixelly" image that appeared after a subject moved quickly toward the camera went away immediately. We chalked it up to network congestion. Colors are brighter through the ConferenceCam than when using the laptop's built-in camera, and lip movement of people speaking is in sync with the audio of what they're saying. The ConferenceCam worked flawlessly with Skype on the MacBook Pro, but Microsoft Lync crashed whenever the camera was plugged in.
We've seen few products that were easier to set up. Out of the box, each major component is numbered in a logical order for setup. The inside box-top contains an Ikea-like diagram illustrating how each piece goes together (but without all those nuts and bolts). A central hub comes out first and is the only component with a power supply. One 16-foot mini-DIN cable delivers power and a data connection from the hub to the camera, and another does so for the speakerphone base. A USB cable attaches the hub to a Mac or Windows computer.
The speakerphone base is the center of ConferenceCam operations. A control panel provides remote controls for the camera's pan, tilt and zoom controls, speaker volume and mute, and call start and stop. A wireless remote stores neatly over the control panel and mimics most functions. Camera controls work one at a time; if trying to zoom while panning, for example, neither will work. A home button returns the camera to a central position but does not zoom out. A lighted ring around the panel indicates call status. This unit also works as a stand-alone speakerphone for NCF- and Bluetooth-enabled smartphones. The sound from this unit is remarkably clear, as if the person was in the same room.
For small and midsize businesses seeking an affordable, high-quality videoconferencing system that's portable and easy to use, the CRN Test Center recommends the $999 ConferenceCam CC3000e from Logitech.
PUBLISHED FEB. 28, 2014