Friday, February 26, 2016

Getting Jiggy with Ziggi!

As a presenter that is often traveling to and from conferences and events, I am always on the lookout for quality presentation equipment that does what it is supposed to do but is light weight and easy to transport.  This past week, I found something that I really want to add to my gear bag.

The great folks at IPEVO (online at and on Twitter @ipevo) recently sent several items to use as door prizes for EdCampMontgomery coming up on April 2nd. They only had one request- Use the devices during EdCamp so that participants could see them in action.  This is important to note because that means that I would have to open the boxes before the items were given away.  Hmmm, if they have to be opened and used before they are given away then it really doesn't matter if they are opened now or then, right? Yes, I wanted to give these things a try so I decided that it would be acceptable to do this so long as I shared my experience with you!

The IPEVO team sent a total of four different device types to us.  I'll try to get reviews of each of them, starting with the Ziggi-HD Plus USB document camera.  At just $99, this document camera seems like you are stealing it from IPEVO, but at that price, I was wondering about the quality.  I was pleasantly surprised.  The Ziggi ships in a sturdy box that could certainly be reused but they also offer a nice carrying case for less than 20 bucks.

Inside the box was everything you need, which isn't much.  Of course, the document camera is there but IPEVO also includes a slide on anti-glare screen for those fluorescently lit classrooms (how is there always a light directly above where you need the document camera?)  and a quick start guide.  The very capable IPEVO Presenter Software is available for free download for your PC or Mac.  There is no power adapter needed, which is great.  There never seems to be enough outlets so not needing another is helpful.

To get started, I pulled out my Asus Windows 10 laptop and headed to the IPEVO support site to get the software downloaded while I took a look at the device.  By the way, the software downloads and installs quickly and I was ready to go in short order.

The first thing I noticed when taking the Ziggi-HD Plus out of the box was its heft.  It is not heavy (just over a pound and a half) but the base feels very solid.  It would take some serious jarring of the desk or table to move this thing!

The Ziggi feels very well made with lots of nice little touches.  For instance, the USB cable comes directly out of the camera at the top of the device but IPEVO incorporated a nice slot that runs down the length of the arm that the cable tucks into to keep it out of the way.  Leave a little bit of the cable loose at the top, though, because you can swivel the camera head to best handle your setup location.  The multi-jointed stand adjusts easily but then stays in place.

My quick review was done in my living room with no overhead lighting connected to a digital projector projecting the image onto a blank painted wall.  As you can see below, the image for the 8.0 megapixel camera was great and this was even after I took the resolution down significantly.  I reduced the resolution to counteract a bit of stutter that I am convinced was a result of the relatively low power of the Asus chipset in that budget laptop I was using.

Overall, I am in love with this document camera and I haven't even had time to try out half of its features.  The Ziggi can live stream video and even includes a built-in microphone allowing you to use it to create video demonstrations or even podcasts.  How great would that be in your flipped classroom!  The camera features 12x zoom and autofocus.  The autofocus was quick and smooth, barely noticeable and certainly not distracting.

The Ziggi-HD Plus is a well equipped and completely affordable document camera solution for both a permanent set up or for a frequent traveler.  Add in the live streaming and recording capabilities of the free Presenter software and it becomes a great option.  

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