Logitech HD Pro c920 Webcam

Again another day-long project spent installing one item, but again not a total waste of time. I need a webcam for video meetings/calls, but my pc is an old one -- a Dell Dimension 4600 series running Windows XP Pro 32-bit. I'll get around to getting a new one one of these days, but for now it's been doing just fine. With a clean re-install of Windows every few years, this pc has saved me a good bit of green by lasting over 10 years. 

I chose the Logitech HD Pro c920 because it was highly-rated by users, and it supposedly ran in XP, supposedly. XP is included in the detailed system requirements, but it's not included on the system requirements on the box, nor are the USB 2.0 port requirements.

As soon as I plugged the camera in a port, Windows popped up a "device not recognized" bubble. Great, I thought. An auspicious start.

The software installed okay, but after it kept reading that the camera couldn't be found, even though it was firmly plugged into one of the front USB ports. I took a look at the port in Device Manager, and saw that the device plugged in was unknown, and there were no drivers loaded. So I figured the drivers were being installed in the wrong place or had corrupted.  I tried rebooting, installing again, and got the same result.

When things like this -- pc-related operations that should only take minutes -- turn into an all-day production, it tends to spike my blood pressure. No one should have to spend hours of valuable time screwing around with something that should work if all the requirements have been satisfied...and if requirements aren't being satisfied, that should be clearly communicated to the user. Time and brainpower are resources, no less than money. If have to spend a great deal of either on something after I've already paid for with money, then the price of that item was in fact far higher than the price shown on the box, wasn't it? Instead of showing "$69.99" or whatever monetary price on the price tag, it should read "$69.99, 4-8 hours, and 500 kilowatts of analytical/deductive brain power".

So I returned the webcam and decided to look for another. I would have kept looking, except that someone online contacted me and insisted that the camera should work in XP, and I should try doing a clean boot and installing it in that state. I reminded myself that computers, like peopleare some of the most complicated machines on Earth, with all kinds of variables that can cause them not to do as expected...and I too am guilty of falling into that category. The store was a couple minutes walk away, so I decided to give Logitech another chance -- in my experience, they tend to make quality products.

During the installation, a popup told me that I was using USB 1.1 ports, and that I need to plug the cam into a USB 2.0 port. That was news to me -- the owner's manual for my PC clearly says I have all 2.0 ports in the parts diagram. And the cam wasn't even plugged in yet. And I didn't know why my pc needed to be in a clean state for that message to appear during installation. It should have appeared when my pc was in normal state, too.

So I decided to go to the tapes. I went into device manager and took a look at what it listed for my USB ports. I wasn't hopeful. I didn't expect there to be 1.1 ports and 2.0 ports mixed together, but it turned out that was exactly what I had. 4 of them read "Universal Controller", which means USB 1.1, but the 5th read "USB2 Enhanced Controller", which means 2.0.

I didn't know which one it was, but I plugged the cam into a port in the back of machine, and found it on the first try. Windows popped a bubble saying new device detected, and this time it recognized the camera. After a quick install, both the camera's video and audio were working great.

Without the all-day production, I may never have had reason to find out what kind of USB ports are actually on my machine. Einstein once said sometimes one pays most for the thing one gets for nothing. Along those same lines, I would say that sometimes a collosal waste of time is time well-spent.

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