The pandemic might be over, but remote working is here to stay. No amount of foot-stomping from realtors, retrograde politicians, or Tim Cook will change that.
Swiss peripherals giant Logitech has been a net beneficiary of the changing face of office work, selling record levels of keyboards, mice, and web-conferencing gear. Today, it released a slew of new devices aimed at the work-from-home crowd.
These new devices include a webcam that allows you to record your desk (good for displaying physical media like sketches) and a couple different headsets for work and play. Let’s dive in.
The Brio 500 webcam
External webcams are a weirdly-intriguing part of the consumer tech market. They’re an example of a concept that faded into irrelevance, only to suddenly become un-obsolete.
By the late 2000s, the market for physical webcams had virtually evaporated. Laptops had displaced desktops as the primary computing form factor.
As early as 2007, vendors routinely included webcams with their laptops, even with bargain-basement machines like Asus’s EeePC 701.
But then, the pandemic revived this dying industry. Like toilet paper, they became a highly sought-after commodity, with scalpers re-selling webcams at obscene prices.
The Logitech C525, which retailed at $59.99, appeared on eBay at double the price. But that wasn’t the end of it. Some webcams had a three-times markup.
The demand has cooled, but the conditions that led to these frothy conditions remain unchanged. People are still working remotely. And so, Logitech is trying to do some genuinely interesting stuff with its latest webcams.
With a starting retail price of $129, the Brio 500 series webcam isn’t cheap. But that pricetag does include features that routinely appear on a high-end webcam.
It touts a 4MP sensor for high-definition streaming. Like the Meta Portal, it automatically frames the user within the picture, even when moving around a room.
The Brio 500 Series automatically adjusts the lighting settings and has custom integrations with all the major workplace communications platforms, like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet.
Its industrial design is also quite lovely — although I readily admit this point is subjective.
Arguably its coolest feature is Show Mode, which allows users to easily display items (like sketches and written documents) on their desk to others without physically adjusting the camera.
The webcam includes a built-in tilt motor and a sensor that can detect objects on a desktop. When showing a document, the Brio 500 series automatically flips the image to ensure it appears in the correct orientation.
The Logitech Zone Vibe headsets
Accompanying the Logitech Brio 500 series are a flock of new headsets. The new Zone Vibe series comes in three variants: the Zone Vibe 100 ($99.99), Zone Vibe 125 ($129.99), and the Zone Vibe Wireless ($129.99).
By its own admission, Logitech is trying to craft something competent at both work and play. There’s Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), hardware AAC codec support, and 40mm speaker drivers.
Oh, and it doesn’t look like a drab bit of business technology. They’re actually rather attractive, but your opinion may vary.
The Zone Vibe lineup touts a lightweight design, memory foam ear pads, and a knitted fabric across the headband. Per Logitech, they’re designed for long stretches of use, but everyone is different.
Personally, I’m yet to encounter any audio gear that doesn’t leave my ears throbbing at the end of the working day. Even Apple’s arse-clenchingly expensive AirPods Max fails to clear this (admittedly high) bar.
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