Laptops and notebooks have traditionally come a poor second to their desktop counterparts when it comes to peripherals like cameras and mice. Part of this is due to the practical problem of attaching the peripherals and part of it is to do with the variable spec of the computers, particularly where image manipulation is concerned.
Now the cavalry has shown up in the guise of Logitech, which has combined its QuickCam for Notebooks Pro with the MouseMan Traveller at a reasonable price to bring a ray of sunshine to those rat-race sufferers who need to work on the move.
The QuickCam itself clips neatly and firmly to the top of your screen (and comes with a handy case so it can be protected in transit) and can provide 640 x 480 pixel video resolution with the advanced VGA CCD sensor, along with high quality 1.3-megapixel still photos.
The quality is remarkably sharp, although movement is smoothest at 320 x 240 pixels, and you can zoom in or out, tilt and pan to achieve the right shot. There’s also the vote-winning Face Tracking function which keeps your face centred in the frame even when you move about. In addition, you can take still pictures and organise them into an album or slideshow.
The built-in microphone is barely bigger than a pinhead but provides very clear audio. The accompanying software will allow you to create animations using time-lapse and stop motion; use the camera as a security-minded motion detector; add video to Yahoo Messenger and MSN Messenger; broadcast live video and audio through the Web and set up a Web cam. There’s even editing software (VideoWave 4) to create your own mini movies.
The MouseMan Traveller, meanwhile, is a petite and lightweight mouse that has an advanced optical sensor with up to 800dpi resolution, which is considerably more accurate than optical mice at the lower end of the scale. It has three buttons (including the scroll wheel) and works comfortably on just about any surface, which is just what you need when on the move.
The accompanying MouseWare software gives a wide choice of button assignments and control adjustments and the WebWheel package includes one-touch Internet and Web command access. The mouse fits comfortably in either hand and the 3 foot USB extension cable is more than sufficient for your needs.
Some users have complained that the mouse edges are quite sharp and because it’s smaller than conventional mice, it may take a little while to get used to. These are minor irritations, though, for what is an extremely laptop user-friendly combo.
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