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Logitech ConferenceCam Connect review: Flexible video conferencing for small groups

charles-mclellan
Written by Charles McLellan on
logitech-ccc-main.jpg
8.5/10

Logitech ConferenceCam Connect

Excellent
$435.99 at Amazon$468.99 at Best Buy$499.99 at Lenovo
Pros
  • Works with Windows, Mac OS and Chrome OS systems
  • Distinctive cylindrical all-in-one design with clever remote control housing
  • Good build quality
  • Easy to setup and use
  • Can operate on battery power
  • Supports wireless screen mirroring for compatible Android and Windows devices
Cons
  • Mechanical tilt wheel is a little fiddly to use
  • Editors' Review
  • Specs

Logitech's business unit has now released three high-definition video conferencing endpoints aimed at small businesses and enterprise departments. The entry-level £229.99 (inc. VAT; £191.66 ex. VAT) BCC950 ConferenceCam caters for around-PC huddles or small meeting rooms, while the top-end £799.99 (inc. VAT; £666.66 ex. VAT) ConferenceCam CC3000e is designed for larger meeting rooms holding up to 10 people. The most recent product is the mid-range £449 (inc. VAT; £374.17 ex. VAT) ConferenceCam Connect, which Logitech describes as "a portable all-in-one solution with a breakthrough design for small and medium-sized rooms".

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Logitech's ConferenceCam family comprises the BCC950 (left), Connect (centre) and CC3000e (right).

Images: Logitech

That "breakthrough design" refers to a 766g cylindrical device that's almost exactly the size and shape of the containers used for packaging expensive single-malt whisky. It's also reminiscent of Amazon's voice-controlled Echo home automation/entertainment device.

The top aluminium-clad section contains a full-HD camera, omnidirectional full-duplex echo- and noise-cancelling microphones on opposite 'sides' of the cylinder, and touch controls for volume up/down and muting the microphone. The matte-black fabric-covered bottom section houses speakers that deliver 360-degree sound within a 12-foot diameter and a circular status LED that glows blue when the device is turned on and when you're in a call, and red when you mute the mic.

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The ConferenceCam Connect's remote control slots magnetically into the lens recess when the device is not in use.

Images: Logitech
logitech-ccc-top.jpg

Touch controls on top of the Connect: power on/off (middle); Bluetooth mode (left); wireless screen mirror mode (right); video conferencing mode (bottom).

Image: Logitech

There are four touch controls on top of the ConferenceCam Connect: power on/off in the middle, surrounded by controls for switching between video-conferencing, Bluetooth and wireless screen-mirroring modes (of which more below). Although it's tall, the device is well weighted and a rubberised ring on the underside helps to keep it in place -- even on a well-polished meeting-room table.

The 1080p camera, sitting towards the top, has a 90-degree field of view and features a glass Zeiss lens with autofocus. A mechanical tilt wheel sits just below the lens, but isn't particularly easy to manipulate. More convenient is the remote control, which slots magnetically into the recess that houses the lens and touch controls, providing protection for the former when the endpoint is not in use. Within a 10-foot range you can use the remote to digitally pan, tilt and zoom (up to 4x), adjust volume, mute the microphone, and make/answer and end calls. Video bandwidth on connected laptops is conserved thanks to the camera's built-in hardware support for H.264 UVC 1.5 with Scalable Video Coding (SVC). Image quality is excellent under a good range of lighting conditions.

PCs, Macs and Chromebooks can connect to the ConferenceCam Connect via USB, with a 2-metre Micro-USB to full-size USB cable supplied in the box. We had no trouble setting up and using the device on a Windows 8.1 all-in-one desktop and an iMac running OS X 10.9.5, but didn't try it with a Chromebook.

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Mobile devices can use the ConferenceCam Connect as an external wireless speakerphone via a Bluetooth connection, with NFC support making pairing particularly easy for compliant devices. The ConferenceCam Connect has another mobile device trick up its sleeve, too: thanks to its full-size HMDI video-out port and support for Miracast technology you can send content such as presentations, spreadsheets, videos or websites wirelessly from your mobile device to a monitor, projector or TV. Screen mirroring is a 'first' for a video conferencing device of this class, according to Logitech: Android (4.3 or later) and Windows (8.1 or later) devices are supported, but iPads and iPhones are excluded because Apple embraces the proprietary AirPlay standard.

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Screen mirroring via the ConferenceCam Connect, from a Nexus 4 smartphone to an HDMI-connected monitor.

Image: Charles McLellan/ZDNet

We tried screen mirroring with a Google/LG Nexus 4 Android smartphone, and the process was straightforward enough: we pressed the touch control for wireless screen mirroring on top of the ConferenceCam Connect and then went to 'Settings/Display/Cast screen' on the phone and selected the Logitech device; the phone's display then appeared on the HDMI-connected monitor, as shown in the image (right). You can look up Miracast-compliant products using the Wi-Fi Alliance's product finder.

The ConferenceCam Connect can be powered either via an AC adapter or in portable mode using an internal battery that's good for three hours of video conferencing or screen mirroring -- which is plenty long enough for any meeting, in our opinion. Talk time in speakerphone mode is rated at 15 hours. Usefully, for such a portable device, there's a Kensington lock slot.

The ConferenceCam Connect is officially optimised for Microsoft Lync 2013, compatible with Cisco's Jabber and WebEx, and Skype certified. However, it will work with "virtually any videoconferencing software", according to Logitech. That includes commonly used applications like Citrix GoToMeeting, Blue Jeans, Google Hangouts, Vidyo and Zoom.

Conclusions

The ConferenceCam Connect isn't cheap at £449 (inc. VAT; £374.17 ex. VAT), but considering the quality of its design and construction, audio and video performance, and flexibility in terms of battery-powered operation and screen mirroring support, we think it's excellent value for money.

The IT department may buy its bigger ConferenceCam CC3000 stablemate, but the Connect is likely to appear as an under-the-IT-radar BYOD device in many businesses.

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