back to article Mad dash for webcams with surge in videoconferencing has turned out rather nicely for Logitech

Webcams – like toilet paper and disinfectant wipes – have become an increasingly scarce commodity since the start of the pandemic, with analysts at the NPD Group reporting an almost-threefold increase in sales for the first three weeks of March. This was not lost on Swiss peripheral maker Logitech International, whose balance …

  1. Shadow Systems Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Man, I miss being able to see...

    Back when I could still see to enjoy the confusion it caused, I'd built a small box with mirroring on the inside, a pair of holes for the cables to pass through, & a lift off lid through which I would lower a pair of webcams down inside & then close over it.

    Anyone "hacking" the site I used to host the live stream (like "user" and "password" required much hacking skills), they would get to see the infinite reflecting & mind smashing visuals of the mirrored box.

    I also made a diarama of a bedroom scene & made it look like Ken & Barbie were doing the nasty, using a small motor under the bed to shake it & them to simulate the rumpy rumpy motions, plus piping in classic 70's era porn theme music to act as a delightful addition for those sick bastards that wanted to see if they got up to anything better.

    Before you ask, NO I did not already own the dolls, I was at a yard sale & saw the pair arranged to mimick sleeping in a bed side by side. My dirty mind thought "Oh now THAT could be twisted!", I started laughing, it lasted longer than 30 seconds, I knew it had just been added to My Skippy's List, and so decided to buy them & tell Skippy to fek off.

    It's amazing the amount of fun you can have with a webcam, a small cardboard box, a bit of glue, & a Creatively Devious Imagination...

    *Cackles in glee*

    1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

      Re: Man, I miss being able to see...

      Photos, videos & links or it didn't happen!

      1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

        At Kitten, re: pics...

        I wish I still had any to share, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

        Unfortunately I've had to purge my system of all the pictures, movies, & visual only media due to my inability to see any of it any longer.

        *SnifflePout*

        *Long comical arcs of rainbow sparkly crocodile tears over the loss of all my porn*

        1. Sandtitz Silver badge

          Re: At Kitten, re: pics...

          "*Long comical arcs of rainbow sparkly crocodile tears over the loss of all my porn*"

          There are the Audio Described movies, though I'm not sure whether this particular category is yet to be supported. "In - out - in - out" (in monotone voice), oh yeah!

          I'm sure you've heard it many times, but there's always the Braille edition of Playboy...

  2. LDS Silver badge
    Devil

    My actual webcam costs $5000...

    I was looking to replace my old Logitech which delivered bad video, and installed some nasty filter drivers in the whole USB/audio stack causing some issues - but decent webcams were or too pricey, or not available.

    Then Canon was nice to deliver a small utility to allow using most of its cameras as webcams. It was fun to see the effect of my video taken with a tripod-mounted DSLR and 24-70/2.8 lens compared to those from most monitor-mounted webcams... only caveat it can burn trhough batteries quite quckly, an AC adapter is useful.

    1. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921 Bronze badge

      Re: My actual webcam costs $5000...

      Even if you can't use Canon's beta Windows 10 only and select cameras only webcam utility, you can use the live preview mode on their remote control application and stream that using a screen capture program... not as good I admit, but still far better than sh*tty webcams.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: My actual webcam costs $5000...

        There are other tools, some free, IIRC, that allow to use the USB video feed from a camera. Frankly, never tried them before because at work I had both a decent webcam, and web conference rooms with specific equipment when needed. But my webcam at home was really an outdated model, without a decent wide-angle field of view, and low quality video - bought about 15 years ago, IIRC. Never used it much.

        With something less than webcams were costing these weeks you could also get a converter from the HDMI output and obtain a very high quality video - from HD to 4K depending on the camera model.

        Still with webcams hard to find and prices doubled. I tried the Canon utility, works well enough and even if the resolution is not that great from the USB port, the lens/sensor combo still delivers better video than a plain webcam.

    2. Stuart 22

      Re: My actual webcam costs $5000...

      Errr ... my Logitech C920 cost £28.95 a couple years back from Amazon. It does Zoom great so I thought I would get another for downstairs. Back on Amazon the current price was now £79.99 before going oos.

      Wow, if Amazon hadn't stopped the price gouging goodness knows what it would have been. Workaround is to unplug, walk downstairs, re-plug.

      Buying £79.99 worth of Logitech shares should have been the sharp move back in February. What price time machines?

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: My actual webcam costs $5000...

        Right now a C920S is for sale by Amazon.it at 286 euro... available by the end of May. A used C920 at 219 from a seller... I wonder how much is pricing them Logitech.

        I guess I'll keep on using my DSRL for a while...

        1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

          Re: My actual webcam costs $5000...

          While I have a DSLR, I have solved all such problems of choice by simply refusing to video conference for almost everything. Very soothing.

      2. Cederic Silver badge

        Re: My actual webcam costs $5000...

        Best prices currently are on the Logitech site itself. They'll charge you RRP but they have stock (of the 270 anyway) and they won't charge you a premium price.

        1. notmyopinion
          FAIL

          Re: My actual webcam costs $5000...

          Logitech web sales seem to be operated by a third party, which is full of one star ("because you can't give zero stars") reviews on trustpilot, mostly complaining about no delivery, and failure of customer service to resolve problems. I decided not to risk my money.

          1. Cederic Silver badge

            Re: My actual webcam costs $5000...

            I was referring to https://www.logitech.com/en-gb which is very clearly Logitech's site, whether the front-end shopping basket or back-end fulfilment are outsourced or not.

            I've never had issues buying there and my neighbour got her new webcam courtesy of my recommendation from there within the stated delivery time a month ago (after everybody else was sold out).

            However I see your point regarding the Trustpilot feedback. It seems that sadly Logitech have been overwhelmed by recent demand and are not providing the levels of service that led me to originally refer people to their site.

            Happily I have spare keyboards, mice and my logitech webcam is the spare one, so I can hopefully survive the next few months without having to cope with the shortages.

  3. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    It's interesting the way that people are now getting used to webcams. A straw poll of our customers indicates that many of them will stay working at home, meeting their clients via Skype or Zoom or Teams. People prefer it. Why get in a car, or get on a train or bus and go all the way somewhere to meet someone when you can see them from your spare room or sofa or whatever?

    And this brings up the question of better broadband. Some of our customers just cannot do this, because they can't get decent broadband at their homes.

  4. quartzz

    I used to like Logitech (mice, at least), haven't since some of their recent (well, 5 years ago) products. their setpoint software is *horrible*. (want to reassign mouse buttons? they become "mouse button 1", "mouse button 2", "mouse button 3" 4 and 5. (as opposed to left click, right click, wheel). but, re this article, ok, good.

    now if someone could produce a wireless mechanical keyboard (they don't seem to exist?) https://i.ytimg.com/vi/3FJPGpwyzOA/maxresdefault.jpg they might have a customer/market.

    1. joeW Silver badge

      I just tried reassigning buttons on my G MX518*. The actions are labelled "Primary Click", "Middle Click" and "Secondary Click" and keep the labels after reassignment, so it seems they've fixed that.

      *which I purchased recently to replace my aging 2004 model MX510. It's actually the third time I've replaced that old workhorse, the tenacious little bastard keeps outliving its replacements. When I heard Logitech had reissued the classic MX series mouse shape with modern sensors I decided I had to try it out.

    2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Happy

      I'm currently using a ~11 year old Pro 2400 set. Some of the legends are wearing off and the wrist-rest is shiny, but otherwise it has been flawless. Keyboard batteries last 12 months, mouse ones 6.

      I haven't installed the logitech software though - distant memories remind me that it's annoying and experience says that it's not needed anyway.

    3. gypsythief

      now if someone could produce a wireless mechanical keyboard...

      Like this one?

      CoolerMaster SK651

      Although I'm not sure what a low profile Cherry MX would be like compared to a full profile one. Anyway, I have their Master Keys Pro with Cherry MX Brown switches to help retain my hearing sanity, and I've been impressed by it.

      1. quartzz

        Re: now if someone could produce a wireless mechanical keyboard...

        oo. not bad...

        wireless and lit up - could be good. do the lights majorly affect battery life? guessing they can be turned off. altho backlit like that can be very nice.

        rechargeable using optional USB cable, or just battery? *hints for focus group*.

        flat keys...any makers want to make regular switch/keytop type keyboards? I'm not into the 'chiclet' thing yet. there are at least 2 types of cherry keys I might be interested in, the regular light-resistance action (red, I think), and non-clicky tactile 9can;t remember which, possibly light grey).

  5. Buzzword

    Video calling - a solution looking for a problem since the 1990s

    Once the novelty of teleworking has worn off, most people will realise that video calling isn't all that useful. Video phones have been around since the 1990s, but never became popular anywhere in the world. Even video-calling the grandparents on Skype is more trouble than it's worth. Far easier to just pick up the phone and make a voice call.

  6. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    Facepalm

    People don't know how to use webcams

    I assume everyone here has noticed that almost no one knows how to use a webcam. People constantly looking at the "wrong" place, placing the camera in the wrong position so we get to see up their noses etc. Worse, this applies to journalist too, even those whose job it is to appear on camera! You'd almost think they can't see their own PIP image in the corner of the screen or notice that everyone else is also doing it wrong.

    It's not like it's hard to pile a few books underneath the laptop, especially for those on-camera TV interviews.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: People don't know how to use webcams

      Why should someone even have to put the laptop on top of a pile of books because the laptop manufacturer has stuck the webcam under the screen so it doesn't spoil their wonderful design language and super-thin bezels? Now try typing on the keyboard when it's on top of a pile of books.

      I ain't using no nostrilcam.

      I imagine much of Logitech's success lately is down to that, people buying a webcam to clip on top of the screen even though they've already got one, mounted in probably the most useless place possible.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: People don't know how to use webcams

        Ya know, I didn't even consider the laptops with the webcams in the keyboard area. :-)

        That will probably be even worse! I was more specifically talking about all the people we see being interviewed on TV currently. They are almost exclusively not typing and as I pointed out, many are used top being on screen and seeing monitors showing their own image while doing so. Clearly most of these talking heads have no clue about what the camera operator does to make them look "good".

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: People don't know how to use webcams

      I've reached the point where I am sick of TV and it's current love of crappy webcams and nostril cams. Before they put some waffle piece on air, can the producer not say - please don't point the camera at your nostrils or ceiling - maybe try putting the laptop on a pile of books?

      I'm also sick of burbly echoing sound and blurry video. Not to mention the lack of any meaningful content in the contribution. The sooner professional cameramen and soundmen (and women!) start to make programmes again, the better.

      1. Dave559

        Re: People don't know how to use webcams

        In the 1980s when the tv news was interviewing someone Far Away, we were perfectly happy with the advanced technical solution of a photo of the remote journalist superimposed on a (funky BBC shades of orange) map of where in the world they were, with only their voice coming in over a (crackly or otherwise, usually not, if I recall) phone line.

        99% of the time in these webcam interviews that the news persists in doing, having live (but often call-killingly flakey) video of the person being interviewed adds absolutely nothing to the interview. It would be far more bandwidth efficient and reliable just to have an audio-only stream for the interview, and bring back the photo and map overlay!

        (The 1% of interviews where the video actually adds anything is in those few cases where, say, a subject expert's young children decide to invade his study mid-interview... :-D )

  7. whoseyourdaddy

    This is good news as Logitech makes my preferred mice and keyboards as a CAD guy.

    Years ago, there was an El Reg article reminding us everyone switching to tablets would cause them to shrink.

    (I'm buying as many mice and keyboards as I can...)

    1. joeW Silver badge

      If anything I'd say tablets have been good for their keyboard sales!

  8. Cave-Homme

    Sadly Logitech aren’t the same good quality anymore yet they cost much more for the label. I try and avoid.

    1. Davegoody

      Their cheaper options perhaps, but their high-end stuff is amazing, typing this on a Logi Craft keyboard and it's just the best membrane-based keyboard I have ever owned (perhaps the best keyboard overall I have ever used)..... sometimes it's a chase to the bottom...... Have to agree with other people though that the keyboard software is pretty rubbish though.

  9. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    Logitech C270

    During normal times, it's sold for as little as £12 on Amazon UK

    Currently showing(*) at £99.99 on Amazon UK. Economics 101 in action. Fortunately I bought a cheap 4:3 ratio web cam as a toy back in 2012. It's had more use in the last few weeks than it had in the years before.

    (*) For me, YMMV.

  10. Steve Button

    long-term secular trends driving our business

    Secular? What does he mean?

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: long-term secular trends driving our business

      It's investment jargon:

      "A secular trend, stock or market is one that is likely to continue moving in the same direction for the foreseeable future."

      C.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: long-term secular trends driving our business

        Poor lads - when could they show me anything in the commercial or stock market able to keep a trend for more than a century?

  11. cb7

    I'm surprised no one's come up with a way to use a smartphone camera as a computer/laptop webcam.

    Yes you could Zoom/Skype directly from the phone, but if you need to screen share at the same time, that's better done from a bigger screen.

    1. richdin

      It's called DroidCam

      ...and it's great!

      I wanted to use my old Microsoft webcam on the MS Win10 box I had to set up for the kid's remote school platform... but it wouldn't work. Obviously. Refused to shell out for a new MS webcam on principle. Connected the cam to one of my Linux systems - which worked flawlessly - and took out an old phone from the junk drawer with a USB cable and DroidCam. Problem solved. I'll buy him a new Logitech camera when prices return to earth.

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