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Old Jun 30, 2003, 08:32 PM   #1
G5orbust
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Lightbulb iSight Review!

I originally wrote this for the Funmac.com forums:

The iSight:

If you look at the pictures of the new isight, you see a metal, tubular camera with a plastic base that connects to the top of the computer screen. That is all true, though the metal is a bit lighter than the pictures protray.


The iSight has flawless tracking and no lag- tracking and lag are two problems that plagued older webcams. The picture given by the isight is on par with other Firewire enabled cameras, though it has no color or brightness controls as of yet.

The design of the isight is practical, as it is light and unobtrusive- exactly what you need for a webcam thatsits on the top of your screen. The isight can hook anywhere on your screen and has about a 45 degree turn radius (up and down, as well as side to side) from its neutral position, but unfortunately cannot turn backward. The clip to hold the isight to the back of the screen is adjustible by a rotating screw wheel on the bottom; a bit crude in my opinion, but gets the job done with more percision. I think that Apple could and should have had pre-aranged settings that the iSight to clicks to depending on the width of the Apple screen you are using it with, as the iSight is Mac only and is geared to fit atop Apple displays.

In real world testing, I had two guys talk to eachother from across the store. The audio was passible. One problem: The words from the one guy were heard being emitted from the other computer as they were being played and were picked up by the isight microphone- something one could think the extrenuous noise codec would have countered. The video of the other person was also passible, though a bit laggy and pixelated. I would not suggest using this product with anything slower than a 56K modem, though broadband with be hugely encouraged (that is, if you can get it- as broadband is not a requirement and the isight probably runs fine with dial up) and would prevent most of the lag, especially in the audio stream.

So, all in all, I give the iSight, from Apple Computer a 3/4

Bottom Line: Form and functionmality go hand in hand as Apple searches for a foothold in the consumer webcam market. A good start, though more complex controls and PC compabalility should and probably will come. Average picture and audio make it a hard purchase to justify, but styling charateristc of Apple pushes this product and makes it more entycing than your average firewire webcamera.
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Old Jun 30, 2003, 09:22 PM   #2
Kwyjibo
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mine is ok but i have a few complaints...the laptop clamp doesn't really clamp on...it rests in a certain spot but it doens't seem like i'm able to mount on the side of my laptop ...only the top because even after tightening it ...it never feels that secure and large screen movemnts always jostle it


also broadband is a requirement to use video via ichat... it even says so in apple.com/isight
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Old Jun 30, 2003, 11:16 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by Kwyjibo
mine is ok but i have a few complaints...the laptop clamp doesn't really clamp on...it rests in a certain spot but it doens't seem like i'm able to mount on the side of my laptop ...only the top because even after tightening it ...it never feels that secure and large screen movemnts always jostle it


also broadband is a requirement to use video via ichat... it even says so in apple.com/isight

yea, I tried to test that side clamp thing for myself, but the Apple store guys kept looking at me like I was going to steal it.

And I didnt know that video required broadband, I just assumed that one would need a high speed connection just because the nature of the device is bandwidth intensive.
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Old Jun 30, 2003, 11:49 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by G5orbust
yea, I tried to test that side clamp thing for myself, but the Apple store guys kept looking at me like I was going to steal it.

And I didnt know that video required broadband, I just assumed that one would need a high speed connection just because the nature of the device is bandwidth intensive.
yes video requires broadband, but audio only does not.
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Old Jul 1, 2003, 12:06 AM   #5
donigian
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The iSight sounds great. I can't wait to buy myself a machine for college and get the iSight, too. It's about d**n'd time somebody improved the classic webcam.
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Old Jul 1, 2003, 12:40 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by donigian
The iSight sounds great. I can't wait to buy myself a machine for college and get the iSight, too. It's about d**n'd time somebody improved the classic webcam.
yes. while Im not 100% fond of the styling choices made by apple, the isight still is 100x better looking than most, if not all, compareable webcams out on the market.
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Old Jul 1, 2003, 01:03 AM   #7
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Looks good to me!

I give the iSight 4/4... not because of athestics but because it works VERY well. However, I've used it only broadband to broadband. Overall, picture quality and audio are excellent.

Easily worth $150 if you have relatives that live far away and are mac users. I imagine that we will see compatability with wintel video chat programs when Panther is released.
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Old Jul 1, 2003, 01:41 AM   #8
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Re: Looks good to me!

Quote:
Originally posted by MrBillGates


Easily worth $150 if you have relatives that live far away and are mac users. I imagine that we will see compatability with wintel video chat programs when Panther is released.
I didnt mention it in my review, but once ichat and the isight are released on windows, or even ichat with 3rd party compatability on windows is released, its functionality rating will skyrocket as now mac users can use their isights and ichat to communicate with pretty much anyone.

Then, an only then, would 150$ be worth it. Right now, I think it is a bit steep, but the price will drop with time.
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Old Jul 1, 2003, 02:17 AM   #9
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Re: Re: Looks good to me!

Quote:
Originally posted by G5orbust

Then, an only then, would 150$ be worth it. Right now, I think it is a bit steep, but the price will drop with time.
Depends. Everyone I want to chat with has a Mac. I love my iSight and give it four out of five stars. I don't really like the idea of sticking an adhesive to the back of my display to mount the camera, and the laptop stand could be better.

Works great. Worth the money.

Dan

BTW - I don't know why anyone is trying to mount it on the side of a display. Your picture will be turned ninety degrees off. It makes no sense to me why anyone would try this.
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Old Jul 1, 2003, 03:21 AM   #10
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...i'm not doing it because i want the odd picture i'm doing it because i wanted to test the clip and explain that it was not exactly securly on there...and in 3rd party apps you can rotate the source so if you wanted to mount the camera on its side like that its quite possible but not with apples stand...i hope someone makes a cool 3rd party stand
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Old Jul 1, 2003, 04:07 AM   #11
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I have played around with it and so far I have not been impressed with it. the aesthetics of it are awesome and the performance ok. But honestly I think it is sort of overhyped. I would buy it fir 50 dollars. maybe.
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Old Jul 1, 2003, 10:39 AM   #12
Dreamail
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Tiny iSight Review

Got my iSight yesterday. Here's another mini review:

[Video chat tests were done with a friend who uses a Canon ZR40 DV camera.]

The good stuff:
- iSight seems to do a great job in regards to color. Well saturated and balanced.
The Canon image in comparison looked washed out and pale.
- Autofocus works pretty well too, although not from that close up.
- Audio quality seems good. No complaints here.

The bad stuff:
- Turns out that the Canon had a much better image resolution. It's not one of the latest, greatest DV cams, yet it seemed to give a much better image quality. We tried putting 12 point text in front of the camera to see whether the other could read it. The signal from the Canon was well readable on my end, but the text in the signal captured from my iSight was too blurry. See also next point:
- Apple claims the autofocus works from 50mm to infinity. Well, text and images get very blurred the moment they are closer than about 150mm (ca. 6"). Not that I will ever be that close in a web chat, but 50mm (ca. 2") seems a bit optimistic.
- Picture quality is rather grainy too. A lot of light didn't help that much.

Some other comments:
- We both used solely artificial lighting, no sunlight. Maybe that affects the quality adversely.
- I don't like the idea of using adhesive to stick a mount on the back of my Cinema Display. If I want to remove it later do I have to scrape off bits of adhesive from my display? Will these stick terribly and I need to scratch things off? Apparently that will not be the case. A note in the User's Guide seems to indicate that the mount can be removed with the adhesive intact:
"Note: If you use one of the two mounts with adhesive backings, you can only remove the mount and replace it a few times before the adhesive quality is lost."
- The FireWire cable that comes with it is about 4 feet long. Should be long enough for most people to connect between a PowerMac on the floor and iSight on a monitor. If you want a shorter cable e.g. for a PowerBook then you need to purchase a short FireWire cable from Apple. It must be an Apple branded FireWire cable because the cable adapter won't fit any other FireWire cable.
- The cable adapter clips around the FireWire cable plug to provide additional support for the iSight so that it doesn't just sit on the FireWire plug connectors.
- Apple supplies two cable adapters, which is nice in case you lose or break one.
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Old Jul 1, 2003, 11:46 AM   #13
Kwyjibo
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if anything apple shoudl provide a shorter cable than they do now because the following models don't need all 4 feet
-imac
-emac
-iBook
-Powerbook


The powermac is the only model that might need more than like 2 feet or 3 feet...obviously the powermac people should have to buy an extra long cable instead...i assume the 4feet is a comprimise between the difference
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Old Jul 2, 2003, 01:59 AM   #14
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hey dreamail,

Thanks for the real, real-world testing- meaning inhome use against another, significantly different camera. Also, I find the tests you ran were very comprehensive. I was merely testing how the isight captures images of people, but your tests tested some other applications of the isight and put it through some major paces. You also had the advantage of messing with your for hours because it is, afterall, yours. Your review of all the stuff that came with it is an awesome companion to my review. Good job and thank you for contributing.
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Old Jul 2, 2003, 03:26 AM   #15
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I love my iSight!

The Audio is AWESOME

and with broadband, the video is very good

at $150, I HIGHLY recommend it! I'm surpirsed its not more like $400
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Old Jul 2, 2003, 10:52 AM   #16
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Hey G5orbust,

Glad you found my additions to your review valuable.

Two more things I'd like to add:
- I really love the feature which opens iChat when you turn on iSight.
At the front of the camera is a ring which can be rotated clockwise and counterclockwise. Counterclockwise turns iSight off and clockwise turns it on.
In iChat AV you have an option which also opens iChat if you turn iSight on. So no matter whether iChat is running or not, you can launch it by simply turning iSight on. Nice integration of hard- and software.
- People have been asking how to use iSight for other thigns than iChat, especially how to make movies with it.
While I'm sure that a future version of iMovie will support it directly, in the mean time check out this really good article from O'Rilley Network 'Making Movies with the Apple iSight': http://www.macdevcenter.com/lpt/a/3976
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Old Jul 2, 2003, 08:09 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally posted by HasanDaddy
I love my iSight!

The Audio is AWESOME

and with broadband, the video is very good

at $150, I HIGHLY recommend it! I'm surpirsed its not more like $400
Yet another in home satified reviewer. But, you should not be suprised at the isight's 150$ price tag. If the isight was 400$, then it would be entering into the low end DV camera market, where it would be battered by the DV cameras, which are made specifically for capturing quality, DV movies and not just for [lower quality] webcam use.


Quote:
Originally posted by Dreamail
Hey G5orbust,

Glad you found my additions to your review valuable.

Two more things I'd like to add:
- I really love the feature which opens iChat when you turn on iSight.
At the front of the camera is a ring which can be rotated clockwise and counterclockwise. Counterclockwise turns iSight off and clockwise turns it on.
In iChat AV you have an option which also opens iChat if you turn iSight on. So no matter whether iChat is running or not, you can launch it by simply turning iSight on. Nice integration of hard- and software.
- People have been asking how to use iSight for other thigns than iChat, especially how to make movies with it.
While I'm sure that a future version of iMovie will support it directly, in the mean time check out this really good article from O'Rilley Network 'Making Movies with the Apple iSight': http://www.macdevcenter.com/lpt/a/3976
That is awesome integration of hardware and software! Great find on that one.

Thats cool on how you can use your isight to record into quicktime. While the isight is obviously not geared to replace, or even compete with, a stand alone DV camcorder, it would be an awesome way for a low budget student to make movies on the fly with his apple laptop, iMovie (or quicktime pro) and isight. I can really see some very interesting potential for the isight based on your observation about the isight's potential use in iMovie.
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Last edited by G5orbust; Jul 2, 2003 at 08:11 PM.
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Old Jul 2, 2003, 08:43 PM   #18
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the sooner the new powerbooks come, the sooner i can and will order an iSight.

It sounds really cool from the reviews I've read. And it seems like people are beginning to flesh out it's capabilities, tying it into quicktime, imovie, etc.
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Old Jul 2, 2003, 10:30 PM   #19
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Simple solution to the "too long Firewire cable": keep the plastic clip it comes with. For my PowerBook just taking the two ends of the cable out of the slip-in covers is enough slack for the iSight to plug in. If I need more slack for attaching to a PowerMac under a desk, I've got it.
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Old Jul 2, 2003, 10:48 PM   #20
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one way video-chat

I'm not sure if this has been posted yet, if so sorry.

But if any of you have unfortunate friends without an iSight you can initiate a one-way video chat. Just control-click their icon and select the option "one way video chat" and, there you go. If you have two button mouse, it a right click.

it works pretty well...

This iSight is the definition of "plug and play"
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