by January 4, 1998 0 comments
  Zoom
VideoCam videoconferencing camera and software
.
Offers resolutions of 352×288 at 7.5 fps and
176×144 at 15 fps. It has a 50-degree field of
view, and manual focus.Useful videoconferencing
camera with reasonable quality video and audio
over LAN. Allows you to connect to Web servers
for video conferencing across the Internet.
Targeted at home and small-office users.
Price:
Rs 13,900 Vendor: Adroit
Technologies, F-128 Mohammedpur, Bhikaji Cama
Place, New Delhi 110066. Tel: 6191353, 6191553

The Zoom VideoCam is
a small, lightweight video conferencing device with host
of features. Based on CMOS array technology (rather than
the CCD technology we see on digital cameras), it offers
reasonable video quality at frame rates up to 15 fps. We
tested the Zoom under a variety of conditions–from a
10 Mbps LAN to a direct modem connect over a 28.8 kbps
line, and with online services, such as Four11 and
iVisit.

The VideoCam is a compact
unit that comes with an ISA card for your PC. If you
already own a Zoom video-ready fax modem, you are in
luck, as you can simply plug the camera into its S
Video-in port (and return the video capture card for Rs
1,000 rebate). Installing the card is a no-fuss
affair–simply plug it into an ISA slot, and it is
auto detected and installed under Win 95.

The camera has a pivoting
feature that allows you to set it up on the monitor.
There is an adjustable focus for fine-tuning the lens,
but once set to the default focus of about 24″, it
provides a depth of view from 8″ to infinity and a
50 degrees field of view–sufficient to take in a
whole room.

The Zoom
uses a CMOS device instead of a CCD. CMOS technology
allows creation of almost a whole camera on a chip,
significantly cutting costs and power consumption. CMOS,
however, still cannot compete with CCD’s image
quality. With video- conferencing, however, still-image
quality is not of prime importance, and CMOS chips are
becoming more commonly used for applications, such as
security and surveillance cameras.

Accompanying the camera is
a CD-ROM that contains a videoconferencing program called
VideoLink. It is H.323/H.324-compliant, which means it
can be used to connect with any software that uses the
same protocol, such as CuSeeMe and NetMeeting. Also on
the CD-ROM is a trial version of CUSeeMe and other
videoconferencing software.

VideoLink allows you to
setup direct conferencing over a TCP/IP network, or even
from modem to modem. We tested it over our office
network, and results were quite satisfactory. However, it
never came anywhere close to 15 fps, giving around 8..12
fps when there was little movement, and 3..4 fps for a
constantly changing scene. The software on the whole is a
little confusing to use at first. The manual recommends
that you install both the 16- and 32-bit versions of
VideoLink, even on Win 95, as some features are not
supported by the 32-bit version. The camera also has a
resolution of 352×288, but you can only enable it by
using the Video Test application. Unfortunately, even if
you stumble across this application by accident, you will
find that none of your video applications display a
picture anymore, so you have to go back and set it to
either of the two lower resolutions. However, that’s
just one minor irritant with the camera.

VideoLink Mail, another
component of the software, allows you to create
self-executing video clips that you can e-mail. The files
it creates are huge–about 35 kB for every second, so
it’s not of much use unless you have a fast link.
Also, you can’t save video files in any common video
format, such as AVI or MOV, but only in a proprietary smv
format.

The Zoom has possibilities
as a surveillance camera in shops or even homes, and as a
means to communicate with children abroad. Its inability
to record large volumes of video, however, restricts its
use. A TV-out port would greatly enhance its usability,
as would the ability to record video in standard formats.

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