HoverCam Solo 8 software review

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The HoverCam Solo 8 in desk mode with the arm bend down and the integrated lights on.
The HoverCam Solo 8 in desk mode with the arm bend down and the integrated lights on.

The HoverCam Solo 8 is a tabletop camera that could be used in the life science for projecting images from your desk in seminars and conferences, or to make short videos for teaching.

Selected features & price

  • 8 MP sensor
  • 30 fps video
  • USB 3.0, no additional power supply needed
  • Mac (Flex10) & Windows (Flexview, Flexcap) software [1]
  • $350 [2], €440 ($540!) [3] - retrieved 2014-12

Installation & software test

Test environment: Mac OS X 10.10 Mavericks on an MBP Retina 15 inch 2012 model; Flex10 software (1.01.011 latest in 2014-12), no published version history; VLC 2.1.5 or OS X Preview for playback

  • Accessed the camera in USB drive mode (port labelled install) to access stored installation software. Flex10 install failed due to an invalid signature (see right). Had to download installer from hovercam.com.
  • USB problems: camera wasn't regularly accessible on the right USB port. Half of the time the video transmission would just stay grey (see right, 2nd from the top). Disconnecting the cable and restarting the software would help occasionally but not every time.
  • Crashed on the 1st test run after starting to flicker and the video breaking up (see full crash report: [4]).
  • On the right USB, the system often does not start up properly with either a grey screen or a black screen. The latter usually makes the process unresponsive (see right, 3rd from the top).
  • Changed to testing the left port because it has less startup problems. Not much better there either. The software often stayed black after recording a video, some times after the 1st, other times after the 2nd. In this situation, a Flex10 restart and cable disconnect is required.
  • Problems with artificial light frequencies causing light waves in the video [5]. In some videos this disappears in the recording and is only visible during the recording on screen. Often it is both visible on screen and in the stored video file. It appears to be better if the internal LEDs are off [6] (this video didn't play online using Safari, maybe the Flex10 video file has problems; download instead). Surprising that the internal LEDs are more problematic than the room fluorescent lighting.
  • Another test video recorded had an obvious stutter, probably a problem with the frame rate [7] (another video that didn't play in Safari/OneDrive).

Conclusion: The fact that the software provided on the camera did not work was a bad start, not helped by the startup problems on the right USB port. Since not even the other USB port provided reliable use and since many of the videos had either light oscillations or an obvious stutter means that I cannot currently recommend this camera for the Mac. A colleague of mine is luckier with the camera set up on a PC. It appears the software works better on Windows.

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