It was almost 5 years ago that I first posed the question, “Where are the USB 3.0 webcams.” They seem to have finally arrived. Logitech’s Brio is now over a year old. Their MeetUp product, not exactly a traditional webcam, is well suited to smaller meeting rooms, aka “huddle rooms.”
Vaddio and PTZ Optics each have several models available, although they remain focused on 1080p models. A USB 3.0 webcam can deliver uncompressed 1080p30 to a host application, which means that the application doesn’t need to specifically configure the camera for MJPEG or H264 modes.
Earlier this year, Logitech teased the availability of a new webcam. This new model, known as Rally, rides atop their webcam lineup, a 4K PTZ camera for video conferencing applications.
As to the basics, Rally connects to a host via USB 3. The connection on the camera itself is USB 3 type C, with a 2.2m C-to-A type cable provided. USB is the sole interface, which sets Rally apart from some of its competition, which may also provide SDI or Ethernet interfaces.
The camera supports UVC 1.5, able to deliver uncompressed, MJPEG or H264 encoded streams. It can deliver 1080p, 720p at 30 fps and 60 fps.
A 15x lens with a 90 degree field-of-view fronts a 13 megapixel sensor delivering up to a 4k30 stream.
The PTZ mechanism provided +/- 90 degrees of movement left-right. Tilt range is from +50 to -90 degrees. When turned off the camera swings down to the –90 degree position effectively providing a privacy shutter.
When mounted upside down the camera automatically senses this, inverting the output image. This makes ceiling mounting a especially simple.
The handheld remote control uses RF signaling, so it doesn’t need a clear line-of-sight to the camera. It provides for three programmable PTZ presets. Well, two user presets and Home position.
Logitech says the camera features wide dynamic range and its RightLightTM technology, ensuring correct exposure. They further expect to offer something called RightSightTM in a coming firmware upgrade.
Logitech RightSightTM camera control automatically moves and adjusts the lens to comfortably frame meeting participants in rooms of all shapes and sizes.
It will be interesting to see if RightSightTM is a feature of the camera itself, or some smarts in a driver running on the host. Although, they tout Rally as “UVC/plug-and-play” which implies that no driver is required.
With a list price of $1299 Rally is the most costly webcam Logitech had ever offered. Their most recent past offering is the PTZ Pro 2, a 1080p30 model with USB 2.0 connectivity sells for around $600. To be fair, the PTZ Pro 2 appears to be a much more modest camera in every way. Rally certainly looks both more sophisticated and more physically robust.
Curiously, Rally is not available direct from Logitech via its amazon store. It’s only available from resellers, who all list prices closer to $1600 than the suggested list price. It’s unclear why this is the case. it may be that they are trying to sell it through a VAR channel, more consistent with how Polycom has historically worked. It could also be that they’re still early in the rollout of the product.
It’s been a few years since Logitech snapped up Scott Wharton, making him VP and GM Logitech Video Collaboration. Prior to that, Scott was the founder and CEO of Vidtel. As such, Scott certainly knows how enterprise video is done. While the ConferenceCams have been a series of baby steps thus far, Rally looks like a winner. I hope to be able to check one out some day soon.