Many of us have left the office space to work from home, or at least away from a dedicated office. For some, that’s permanent. For others, it’s just that day of the week to work from home. And while that freedom is liberating, it leaves much to be desired. Working with other people, office banter…and after much time with/without it, the enterprise-grade hardware that is often associated with working in an office. Whether it’s the projectors, decent phones, or teleconferencing systems, they are the sort of devices that most of us don’t even consider when leaving the workplace, but are a necessity for businesses.

Especially today, anyone who works in front of a home computer for hours on end needs a system for answering the phone without stepping out for the call. Whether it’s to get better reception, get away from the noise (families, other ringing lines, roommates, etc.), or just out of habit, not answering directly by the workstation, not having a simple hands-free system, just doesn’t gel for productivity. Most current solutions don’t actually benefit users. Headsets aren’t comfortable for long, webcams and microphones require too many cables and are prone to the sound of typing or outside noise, and differing devices rarely play well together. Logitech’s BCC950 ConferenceCam is the most organized and best all-in-one solution to home teleconferencing.

The ConferenceCam, sold through Logitech’s for Business department, is a computer-based conference calling system compatible with all major conferencing systems like WebEx and Citrix, as well as smaller platforms more commonly used by individuals like Skype and Google Chat/Voice. I’ve been using the ConferenceCam for the past three weeks across all of these services, and it is exceptional. It has entirely revitalized my workspace. With it, I can make and receive phone calls, have simple voice chats, and join conference calls without any preparation, changes to my desk, or even getting up.

The hardware in the BCC950 is extremely well built. Both excellent speaker and microphone technology are crystal clear over VoIP, and easily put most cellphones and landline phones to shame. In the several dozen hours of communication I’ve used with Logitech’s webcam, it always produced clear audio on both ends of the line. Most people I spoke with didn’t even realize I was on a speakerphone. Camera quality is equally superb thanks to the full 1080p sensor. Laptop and tablet webcams, regardless of what sort of device your on (the iPad or some top of the line workhorse laptop), pale in comparison to the ConferenceCam. It may be too clear for some users (not everyone wants full HD of their face, especially when video chatting with friends or worse, family), but for business it produces clear, crisp video.

Nearly everything about the ConferenceCam is excellent, if not perfect, except for some of the built-in function buttons. The webcam itself comes with only a few parts – a neck so that the actual camera ‘head’ can sit a foot above the base for better visibility (though the camera itself features a full 180 degrees of motion side-to-side and can also be pointed 120 degrees up and down), a power cable or interchangeable USB cable to supply power, a second USB cable for the data connection itself, and the remote control. Everything works straight out of the box with no additional software installation on both PC and Mac except for two buttons: the call and end call buttons.

As you can see from the pictures taken, the ConferenceCam has a whole slew of simple, I-don’t-need-no-stinkin’-manual controls. As is typically said of Apple products, it just works. Except for those two buttons. If you’ve typed in a number and are waiting for everyone to get in the room, no service I’ve tested will allow you to press the call button and actually activate the call. No service tested will end the call when pressed. Everything else works; mute when your actual office line rings, zoom the camera out to show the whole room, whatever you need. But those two buttons are essentially there for no reason. The only other downside is the requirement of either dual USB ports or a single USB port and AC adapter. With USB 3.0 on the rise, it would have been a nice option, even at an additional fee, to have one cable that can do both.

Every other aspect of the ConferenceCam is perfect. It may be expensive at $250, but for an individual user, small business owner, or anyone who just wants to stop using a landline or cellphone in the office altogether, there is no better solution than the Logitech BCC950 ConferenceCam. It has influenced how I work so dramatically that just taking photos for this review has left a void on my workstation. This business-class hardware is exactly what’s needed in any home office. It may not change your life…but it will make you a happier, more productive worker. It has for me.

Editor’s Rating:

Rating: ★★★★½

Excellent

Bottom Line: A must-have all-in-one conference system for small business and home offices

Pros:

  • Excellent audio quality over any VoIP and teleconferencing service
  • Minimal installation and setup required; plug and play on Windows and OS X
  • Excellent 1080p camera with remote that offers full control over camera movement and calls

Cons:

  • Call and end-call buttons don’t work on any service
  • Twin USB cables or USB+power is excessive

The Logitech ConferenceCam BCC950 is available direct from Logitech for $250










James Pikover

 
Spawned in the horrendous heat of a Los Angeles winter, James was born with an incessant need to press buttons. Whether it was the car radio, doorbells on Halloween or lights, James pushed, pressed and prodded every button. No elevator was left unscathed, no building intercom was left un-rung, and no person he’s known has been left un-annoyed.