As more of my class presentations became dependent on the projection system (see Digital Whiteboard +), the advantages of a document camera became clear. In the course of my lessons, I often refer the NEC or have some small object that I am trying to describe or demonstrate, so my initial search parameters became adequate resolution, and low cost (I would need to purchase this myself to prove the concept). A final parameter, which I learned about the hard way, is camera frame rate.
A quick search on Amazon revealed options from $49 to well over $600. I eventually decided I would buy one of two IPEVO cameras (the 5 mp VZ-1 HD and the 8 mp Ziggi-HD Plus). They were low cost and received good reviews, however, the reviews were difficult to navigate since Amazon mixed reviews from three IPEVO models, so I had to sort through them to make sure I was reading about one of the models I was considering.
I eventually settled on the IPEVO VZ-1, despite the fact that it offered a lower resolution and costs $40 more than the Ziggi-HD because it had a built-in LED lamp which I thought would be a benefit since I normally have the lights dimmed for the projector. When the camera arrived, I downloaded the latest software and plugged it into my USB port. My first experience was pretty negative with the projector software freezing after just a few seconds of use. I reinstalled and tried different USB ports, but the result was always the same. I decided that I would try contacting IPEVO support before returning the camera and was surprised at how responsive they were. The following morning I received an email with a link to an older version of the software, which at this writing, has been working well for several months.
The quality support won IPEVO a bit of loyalty, but honestly, I do not like the VZ-1. The LED lamp – the determining factor for the purchase – tends to create hot spots that obscure text making it all but useless. Though this was disappointing, I did not find it to be a serious problem since the camera is sensitive enough to work in the dimmed room. What ended making me dislike the camera was its slow frame rate. Having no previous experience with document cameras, I didn’t really know that there was a difference in camera frame rates and initially thought that the problem was my aging computer. I might have gone on thinking the jerky frame movement was something I would have to live with if I hadn’t run into a video on IPEVO’s own website hailing the better frame rate of the Ziggi-HD.
Frame rate makes all the difference.
Armed with new information, I decided I would order a Ziggi-HD and see for myself. The video above could easily be comparing the VZ-1 and the Ziggi-HD. The Ziggi-HD performs well even at full HD (1920 x 1080) and the extra resolution helps keep the image clear when zooming. the only downside I can see is that the Ziggi-HD stand seems a bit more delicate. Though I do not expect it to be a serious problem for me, in a shared classroom a sturdier stand would be welcome. All in all, I am pleased and feel confident giving my recommendation to this camera. It will work well for displaying print and for showing small objects. Furthermore, at 30 fps, it will work for doing live demonstrations in a small area.