If you host Skype, Google, FireTalk, or YouTube Live conferences, you'll want to project the best image possible.
The following four High-Def web cameras have some features in common that make for an ideal streaming Mac web camera choice:
- USB Video Class - UVC Compatible With OSX 10.5+
- 720p and 1080p or 4K HD Resolution Sensors
- Optical Quality Glass Lenses
- Onboard H.264 Video Compression
- Smooth Webcam Autofocus
- High-Quality Internal Microphones
- Standard Camera Tripod Mount Hole
Ask any seasoned teleconference host and many will say the Logitech C922 Stream Pro is the new number one choice. This top-quality premium webcam supports H.264 video compression and is optimized for streaming video at high frame-rates. It currently retails around $99 USD. It's premium optical quality lens delivers exceptional image clarity. It far exceeds the color accuracy and sharpness of any Apple iSight camera that might be built into your MacBook, iMac or Apple Cinema Display. Dual microphones cancel echo and noise and deliver good audio response, though many live streaming hosts prefer a dedicated XLR or USB microphone for maximum audio quality.
Comparable in video quality to Logitech's premium cameras, the Microsoft LifeCam Pro rivals the C922x with high-quality glass optics, clean sounding microphone, and tripod mount. Also notable is Microsoft's TrueColor technology for accurate color in a wide variety of lighting situations.
Another great choice: The Logitech C930e has an even higher megapixel camera sensor - and most notably - a wider-angle field of view (FOV) than most webcams. The 90 degree wide angle is perhaps best for those who have 2 people sitting side-by-side during a streaming video chat since it incorporates more of what's around you in the frame. Most other consumer webcams are in the 70-78 degree FOV range which is better suited for one person at close range.
For those wanting high-quality livestream chats on a budget might consider the Logitech C615. This small, portable and folding webcam still delivers a superior HD image, has an optical quality glass lens, and a single high-quality microphone element with built-in noise reduction. At a price around $45 USD, it's an excellent value. Although it doesn't have H.264 compression, with good webcam lighting it offers smooth, high frame rate streams.
Although all of these live stream friendly webcam's feature an adjustable mounting clip, you should really take advantage of these webcam's tripod mounting hole for stability and precision placement and angles of your Skype, LiveFire, Google Hangout or YouTube Live teleconferencing session. Low-cost desktop mini-tripods are popular with streaming IM'ers, but depending on your setup, a full-size floor tripod or a desk mounted boom camera arm may be preferable.
Whether you use it personally at home with Skype for OSX, or in a company with Microsoft Lync collaboration, it's portability and PTZ - Pan / Tilt / Zoom functionality makes it ready for any collaboration environment.
The 1-piece ConferenceCam Connect is highly portable: All you need is a MacBook and a Wi-Fi connection to collaborate anywhere. Housed in a compact, tubular body it incorporates both a razor-sharp 1080p HD web camera with a wide, 90 degree field of view and optical quality Carl Zeiss glass lens in the upper section. It's camera supports H.264 video compression and is UVC 1.5 compliant with SVC - Scalable Video Compression to automatically negotiate the highest quality image and frame rates when available bandwidth allows it.
For audio, an omnidirectional full-duplex speakerphone with multiple noise-canceling microphones are both front and rear in the lower part of the base. A remote control for digital zoom, pan & tilt of the webcam image also features buttons for volume, mute and call control. The remote snaps smartly into the camera assembly, protecting the lens for storage and transport. NFC pairing and Bluetooth 4.0 support allows Apple iGadget and cell-phone users participating in a voice conference as well. The unit can operate for up to 4 hours on it's internal LiOn battery, or be powered / charged via the included AC adapter - or via USB as well.
It also has an HDMI video out port to display your conference on a meeting room display or projector. Direct Wi-Fi video transmission using MiraCast technology is supported on a Windows PC, but sadly not available on the Mac at this time. (MiraCast is similar to Apple's competing AirPlay standard.)
The next-generation ConferenceCam Connect hits a price-point above the very affordable Conference Cam BCC950 - which is great for individuals and sole-proprietors wanting an all-in-one remote-controlled zoom, pan and tilt camera and speakerphone solution for several participants at a street price around $200 USD.
In the corporate business-class ConferenceCam C3000e - Logitech delivers a complete, multi-piece hardware solution with a high-end mechanically controlled camera, speakerphone and webcam control base, remote, power and wiring hub for larger groups of 6 or more participants. The C3300e's pricing well-under $1000 USD sent shockwaves through many corporate videoconferencing competitor's spines: Suddenly, the proprietary $10K plus meeting room solutions just weren't that appealing anymore once Logitech entered the scene.
With a manufacturer's suggested list price of $499, the new ConferenceCam Connect strikes a midpoint in affordability while offering a complete re-think and some very awesome next-generation innovations. Portable, compact and elegant, it's optional battery-power will let you dash with your MacBook and camera in tow to the next meeting. You can have an on-the-spot video conference anywhere there's WiFi access and a laptop computer available.
Kudos to the Logitech For Business division for taking voice and video conferencing to a new level - and for keeping Apple users in mind!
Quad Microphone Array
Creative Lab's Live Cam inPerson HD webcam delivers Skype Certified wide-screen HD 720p Video Conferencing with onboard hardware H.264 processing to reduce the CPU demands on your system. You can enjoy headset-free video chat with it's noise canceling array of four built-in microphones that delivers clear voice reproduction and eliminates ambient room noises for exceptional audio clarity.
H.264 video compression built-into the web camera's hardware is something we'll be seeing more of in future models of Mac compatible webcams.
Creative specs for the InPerson HD state Mac OSX Leopard 10.5+, Snow Leopard or OSX Lion. As with many cross-platform compatible webcams, the bundled software is Windows only, but base functionality is assured thanks to it's UVC - USB 2.0 Video Class compliance. Keep in mind - HD video resolutions require fast dual-core Intel CPUs and online HD chat - and also REQUIRES a high-bandwidth internet connection to deliver good frame-rates in 720p HD modes.