ClearOne Launches UNITE PTZ Camera with USB 3.0 & DVI Connectivity

ClearOne-UNITE-100-PTZ-Camera-300pxA year ago I was looking around for signs of webcams that leveraged the faster USB 3.0 connection to a host computer. They seemed to be strange and rare items at the time. We had Vaddio appear on VUC472 to present their Huddlestation product. They hinted at a coming wave of USB 3.0 cameras, expecting to see them in the summer of 2014.

It wasn’t until Q4 that I found a USB 3.0 capable webcam-ish thing trumpeted as available. In a press release issued December 9, 2014 ClearOne announced that its new Unite 100 PTZ camera was shipping.

I say webcam-ish as the UNITE 100 isn’t directly comparable to a common webcam, like my tiny-but-trusty Logitech C920. With a 12x optical zoom lens and PTZ mount, it’s something more akin to the CC3000e. In fact, it’s probably better.

Here are some specs for consideration:

  • Interfaces: DVI-I and USB 3.0
  • Resolution: 1080p60/50/30/25 or 720p60/50/30/25
  • 12x optical zoom lens
  • Viewing angle from 6.3 – 70 degrees (far – near)
  • Auto & manual white balance
  • Auto & manual focus
  • Auto & manual iris
  • RS-232 based PTZ remote control (VISCA)
  • 128 built-in PTZ presets

There’s quite a lot to like in the camera, which should serve dedicated hardware VC end-points and soft end-points like Skype/Lync, Hangouts or GotoMeeting with equal ease.

ClearOne-UNITE-100-PTZ-Camera-Rear

I remain curious about what has been gained by adopting the USB 3.0 interface. To what degree is it UVC compliant? Does it pass uncompressed YUV frames to the host computer? Does it allow people to actually achieve 1080p60 in practice? Or is it simply a way to connect the device to a traditional hardware codec and a computer at the same time?

A quick look at Amazon shows that the UNITE 100 lists at $2,299, but will likely have a street price of around $1,900. At that price I won’t be adding one to my inventory any time soon. (Although, a sample for review would surely be a nice distraction!)

If you, dear reader, should encounter one out in the wild do let me know what you think.