Last week Connectix Corporation announced its first foray into the Macintosh hardware arena. Connectix QuickCam, scheduled for introduction at the Macworld Expo in Boston next month, is a low-cost video camera intended to bring desktop video to every Macintosh. With a suggested retail price of $149, and a likely street price around or under $100, it just might do the trick.
QuickCam connects to the serial port of a Macintosh, eliminating the need for a separate NuBus or PDS card component. Most add-on cameras require an AV-equipped Macintosh or a separate digitizer unit, but QuickCam provides digital input directly through the serial port. The unit also draws its power from the computer’s serial port, so only one cable needs to be connected. The camera provides four-bit grayscale video in image sizes up to 240 x 320, and at up to 15 frames per second. Custom software translates the serial data stream into information that can be used by Apple’s QuickTime software, which makes it available for use within a wide range of application programs, including video production and videoconferencing.
The camera, which Connectix will show in public for the first time at the Bayside Expo Center during Macworld in Boston, should ship later in August once FCC certification is complete.
QuickCam incorporates a CCD, or charged couple device, similar to the video input mechanism used in video camcorders. Unlike most CCD-equipped devices, though, QuickCam need never convert its video signal to analog NTSC. As a result, QuickTime need not convert an analog signal back into digital information for its own use. Connectix is also developing a low-cost color version of QuickCam for both Macintosh and Windows-equipped computers. This version should be ready in early 1995.
In addition to the video input, QuickCam will include a voice-quality microphone, which owners of early Macintosh models will appreciate. (Apple did not begin including audio input as a common Macintosh feature until late 1990, when the Macintosh IIsi and LC were introduced.) No additional hardware is required.
Connectix is of course best known for its popular utility and operating system enhancement software; the software bundled with the QuickCam is likely to be of similar caliber. The product will include a full-featured video recorder application that allows recording and editing of QuickTime movies using the camera’s signal. The software will allow the user to capture time-lapse movies by specifying any number of frames per second or minute (up to 15 fps). The camera will also include a snapshot desk accessory that will allow graphic artists to capture still digital images in PICT format with a single click.
Connectix — 800/950-5880 — 415/571-5100 — 415/571-5195 (fax)
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