HOME Technology Dec 2010
HD webcams, Kinect, PC stays focused

HD webcams lift game


High definition quality on PCs and TVs is raising the expectations of internet videoconferencing with users of products like Skype wanting better performing web cameras.


Logitech New Zealand general manager Bryan Simpson, says the consumer experience is becoming increasingly important and webcams that don’t adjust in low lighting and deliver pixilated images, just won’t cut it.

The video calling experience is headed for the living room as HDTV sets become internet enabled, a trend that’s evident in the US through Logitech’s partnership with Sony, Intel and Google for new WebTVs.


There’s also the Logitech Review hub that sits between the personal video recorder and HDTV enabling full internet searching and high definition videoconferencing using its new 1080p video cameras.


While those units aren’t yet available locally, Simpson believes operating an HD webcam with the big screen TV set will soon become commonplace with Skype and others working on TV video calling.

Logitech’s entry level HD product offering 720p recording is now available for $69. At the top end its Pro HD 910 camera which records in 1080p with video calling at 720p, featuring Carl Zeiss lenses and lighting sensors, sells for $169.


Kinect changes gaming


Microsoft’s new Kinect hands free motion sensor does not require any physical controller to participate in the new range of games coming to market.


The Xbox 360 peripheral which sells for around $250 responds to the physical movements of players through a special camera in front of your TV. It comes separately as a unit to connect into an existing Xbox 360 or as part of a bundle with the popular games console.


Dick Smith marketing services manager Francois Smith says Kinect takes the home entertainment experience to a new level. “It’s more intuitive and means the Xbox can come out from the teenager’s bedroom into the lounge where the whole family can have much wider use of it.”


Instead of being spectators you are placed in the game, including a rafting title where players need to co-ordinate their balance and body movements to navigate white water. Initial releases include golf, fitness, aerobics, dance titles, children’s adventure games and virtual pets.


PC stays focussed

There’s something reassuring and even compelling about having a grunty
large screen PC in the home as well as a notebook and perhaps something even more mobile in the computer arsenal.


A more than adequate standard desktop PC can be acquired for between $800-$1600 with 20 inch screen, minimum 2Gb RAM and around 500Gb hard drive. At the higher end, dual core 2.8GHz machines with 4-8Gb RAM and hard disk capacity of 1Tb and beyond can sell for $2500 or more.


You can pay $1000-$2000 for a 2.2-2.6GHz notebook with 2-4Gb RAM and 320-640Gb disk. If you want the latest processor, Blu-ray drive, TV tuner, 17 inch screen, Gb graphics performance and 6-8Gb RAM you could pay over $3000.


Market leader Hewlett-Packard has expanded its all-in-one form factor for the connected family, including its TouchSmart machines which include TV tuners but most of the action is at notebook level.


HP’s high-end games focused Envy range includes a model with core i7 processor, 17 inch 3D display, 8Gb RAM and a huge 2Tb disk preloaded with the Dr Dre Beats audio system, for $3699. The entry level version sells for $2499.


The company is maintaining focus on its Intel Atom powered netbook range, doubling RAM up to 2Gb with internal storage of 250Gb. The trimmed down notebooks with 10.1 inch display come in black and limited edition red and charcoal for $500-$700.


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