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Review: Logitech Broadcaster

You can use Logitech Broadcaster ($199) to record video on your iOS device or Mac, or to serve as a webcam for Skype, FaceTime, Livestream ProCaster, or Telestream Wirecast, or broadcast directly to Ustream. This review will focus primarily on using the unit to connect to Ustream.

The Logitech Broadcaster ($199 direct) is a webcam that can function as both a camera and encoder, sending an encoded bit stream directly to Ustream via Wi-Fi, no computer required. In this review, I put the unit through its paces, detailing setup, workflow, and output quality.

Though you won't need a computer or other device to broadcast to Ustream, you will need a Mac (Windows machines aren't currently supported), or iPhone/iPad to select and configure your Wi-Fi connection. Thereafter, while you can broadcast to Ustream without any of these devices, on-board status information is limited. I would definitely want at least an iPhone around for control and monitoring, and I'm guessing that most typical users would share this preference.

Still, the value proposition is clear: you get a better imaging device than the one in your notebook or iPad/iPhone, with a microphone input port, a small light, and a variety of mounting options, including the simple ability to position the camera much more easily than an embedded camera on your notebook, or even your iPad/iPhone.

You can record video on your iOS device or Mac, or use the Broadcaster as a webcam for Skype, FaceTime, Livestream ProCaster, Telestream Wirecast, or other applications on your Mac, or broadcast directly to Ustream. This review will focus primarily on using the unit to connect to Ustream.

The Hardware

The Logitech Broadcaster (Figure 1, below) is about 4"x2"x.75," or about the size of a small breakfast burrito, with an internal battery reportedly capable of up to two hours of operation. The unit comes with an AC-plug with a USB connection to power the unit, as well as the USB cable.

Logitech Broadcaster

Figure 1. The Logitech Broadcaster and case.

The back of the Broadcaster contains the USB connection, microphone input port, and on/off button. The right side is control-free, while the left contains a mode selector switch and the on/off toggle for the small light located on the front of the unit. Regarding modes, there are two: one for recording to your computer/iPad/iPhone, the other for broadcasting to Ustream. Once you set the mode, pressing the button on top of the unit executes the selected action. Also on top are two LEDs showing battery status and the strength of the Wi-Fi signal.

The front of the unit contains the lens, a small microphone, the light, and a status light that turns red when you're recording. The bottom of the unit contains a small metal bulb that sits into the magnet mount included in the top of the small carrying case. The mount can sit atop the case, which is about 6" high, and has a screw on the bottom for attaching to a tripod mount.

I'm not totally sold on the magnet approach, though it worked well when there was no cable attached to the unit. However, if you need to attach the cable to keep the unit powered, or attach an external microphone, the weight of the cable is more than the magnet can resist, making the unit hard to position. I definitely would prefer a more solid mounting connection, like a tripod screw.

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