skip to Main Content

Webcams 5: SparkoCam & My Canon Rebel XSi

When is a webcam not a webcam? When it’s actually a DSLR!

Canon-Rebel-XSi-Asus-Monitor-SparkocamAround here we are strong believers in DSLRs. Our first DSLR was an Olympus E-10, but these days we have a couple of Canon Rebel XSi’s. Released in Q1-2009 these are not the latest and greatest by any stretch, but they’re nice cameras. We also have a small selection of lenses.

As DSLRs have come to shoot video it would make some sense that they could also be used the more sedate role of webcam. Our Rebel XSi’s don’t shoot video, but they do make nice 12 mega-pixel pictures.

It happens that many Canon cameras, including the XSi, have a feature called “Live View” that’s intended to stream the image to the LCD viewfinder or even across a USB connection.

Read More

Skype Offers Tips For Improved Audio and Video Quality

Skype-Jabra-Jims-book-300pxMatthew de Beer has penned a couple of recent blog posts over at Skype’s The Big Blog. The most recent one is called, “See no evil, hear no evil – Tips for audio and video quality” and offers some sounds advice on the use of the mute button. It also offers guidance on lighting considerations for video calls. These are both simple, but helpful tips.

I’m constantly amazed at how many people have video calls in a completely ad hoc manner, giving no thought at all to how they look, or the situation around them. A little thought about lighting can dramatically improve your experience with video calling.

Mr. de Beer also had an earlier post entitled, “Gearing For Success.” In this case he promotes the use of a headset over the built-in microphone & speakers common to a laptop.  I concur, but I would make the case more fervently.

Read More

Holiday Gift Idea: Jabra SPEAK 410 USB Speakerphone

Jabra SPEAK 410 USB SpeakerphoneOk, you’re here, so that makes you something of a geek. Perhaps you have another telephony geek in your life, or your family are asking for a Christmas list. Whatever the case, a good USB speakerphone is really handy and makes nice present.

I’ve used a number of these things over the years. For the past few months I’ve had a Jabra SPEAK 410 on the corner of my desk.

Little round-and-loud has proven to be a solid performer. I’ve used it to participate in Google Hangouts, with Skype and GotoMeeting as well as various SIP soft phones. You might have seen me show it in a recent VUC call with Logitech. Whatever the client software, in every case it worked well. It sounds great to my ear and conveys my voice clearly to the far end.

The microphone is omni-directional, effective to about one yard. That makes the SPEAK 410 ideal for desk use, even if you have a person on either side of the desk.

Read More

Dev-Audio’s Microcone: A Novel New USB Conference Microphone

Many thanks to self-described Blogalyst Dave Michels for pointing out a new usb conference microphone from Dev-Audio called the Microcone. Featuring six microphones and some on-board DSP this little device is purportedly able to capture the directional cues inherent in a meeting.

The company sells a related OSX application that is said to record six tracks in parallel. Each track corresponds to one of the size directional microphone pickups.

According to the companies web site:

“Microcone® uses innovative intellectual property based on microphone array techniques. Microphone arrays consist of multiple microphones functioning as a single directional input device: essentially, an acoustic antenna. Using sound propagation principles, the principal sound sources in an environment can be spatially located and distinguished from each other. While the Microcone device can be understood conceptually as a single intelligent group microphone, in fact it is a microphone array device containing several microphone elements acting in an integrated manner.”

They’re leveraging acoustic beamforming, something that I have mentioned a few times in the past.

Read More
Back To Top