The Logitech HD Webcam C310 isn't the most expensive Webcam in Logitech's arsenal, but it certainly does a fantastic job of shooting 720p HD videos and 5-megapixel still images for $50. Installation is quick and we established video chats using a number of programs including Skype, Google Chat, Windows Live Messenger, and more with no problems, thanks to the accompanying Webcam software. With only minor hardware irritations to report, the Logitech HD Webcam C310 makes an excellent option for anyone shopping for a high-quality, affordable aftermarket Webcam.
The C310 USB camera mounts interchangeably between a laptop or a desktop, and the basic design consists of a small oval Web camera attached to a swiveling plastic base mount. With two swivel points directly at the foot of the camera and on the heels, it sits comfortably on a thick desktop flat-panel monitor, but the limited range of horizontal movement could be a nuisance for laptop users.
In addition, the camera itself weighs next to nothing and provides little to no stationary support against the host computer, so even the slightest jolt can send the camera flying off the base. We're also disappointed that the camera is incapable of swiveling left to right, so panning across a room requires you to lift the camera off the computer and ultimately leads to a shaky shot.
Once you have the Logitech C310 stationary, the installation process is a breeze. The companion disc that comes in the box is for Logitech's LifeCam desktop software, and we appreciate the fact that it automatically checks for updates online prior to program installation, a feature lacking on the competing Microsoft LifeCam HD-5000 series.
Logitech recommends specific system requirements to support smooth 720p video calling and recording that includes a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of memory, at least 200MB of storage, and Windows 7 installed. We used a clean 2.13GHz Intel Core i3 Gateway laptop for testing and experienced some video lag likely due to the slower CPU clock speed, so we definitely stand by Logitech's basic requirements. Anecdotally, Logitech makes no mention of Mac compatibility, but online users report both the camera and integrated microphone work perfectly fine in Mac OS X Snow Leopard due to its compliance to USB Video Class (UVC) standards.
The Logitech Webcam software acts as a central hub for controlling the basic functionality of the Web camera, in addition to a couple fun extra features. The main menu offers the option to take a quick snapshot, view a gallery of archived pictures, or make a video call using a number of preinstalled apps: Logitech Vid HD is its proprietary video chatting software, but there's also Gmail Voice and Video chat, Skype, Windows Live Messenger, and Windows Live Movie maker, with a convenient "Get More Apps" button in the right corner that takes you to even more applications.
The Quick Capture function appeals to the vanity in all of us and offers a "photobooth" environment to take snapshots or videos of you and your friends. It's easy to toggle between photos and videos, and you can also control specifics like resolution, standard versus wide-screen lens, and minute visual settings like exposure, gain, contrast, and color intensity. You'll also notice three distinct Logitech additions: Follow My Face, RightSound, and RightLight.
Once enabled, Follow My Face keeps the camera centered on your mug and even zooms in and out as you move around the shot. In our brief experience, the feature worked great, although our personal preference is to control the movement of the camera ourselves--still, it's easy to imagine the feature in a larger picture, being used to keep track of animals back at home or as an extra security measure in an empty apartment.
RightSound and RightLight are two auto-correcting software technologies that optimize the audio and exposure in poor video conditions. RightSound fixes a constant issue with most Webcams--the low hum of the host computer attached to the camera. Most people mount cams on the top of a laptop screen that easily picks up ambient noise from the computer processes; RightSound corrects this issue by canceling out ambient noise and adding clarity and resolution to the sound of your voice.
In our tests, the embedded microphone successfully picked up our voice over others in our office from up to 10 feet away. RightLight, on the other hand, performs the same service but fixes shoddy lighting issues by compensating for low exposures and adjusting hues based on ambient light and the distance from the camera to your face. The overall effect works fairly well, and we found ourselves keeping both features toggled during the majority of our testing.
Like the Microsoft LifeCam series, the Logitech software also gives access to a series of fun graphical overlays that add extra fun points to the experience. You can select from carnival filters that distort and stretch your face, and although the selection isn't as extensive as Microsoft's, you can actually download more on the Logitech Web site. We also enjoyed using the countdown timer while taking snapshots; it gives you time to center yourself in the camera as opposed to the instant shutter on the Microsoft LifeCams.
Logitech offers three video quality settings: Small (360p), Medium (480p), and Large (720p) in addition to toggling between standard and wide-screen formats. As described above, we successfully established video chat sessions using Skype, Google Chat, Yahoo Chat, and Windows Live Messenger with no hiccups during installation. Once in session, our contact on the other side described excellent audio quality from the Logitech C310 and sharp but slightly choppy video on the 720p setting. As we suspected, they also preferred the lighting environment with RightLight and RightAudio "on."
Finally, Logitech understands the close relationship between Webcams and social networking and integrates easy one-touch access to send videos directly to an e-mail address, Facebook, and YouTube once you input your username and password information. There's also an "empty" button labeled "Edit Video" that you can assign to your favorite motion-editing application like Adobe Premiere or Roxio Creator.