Okiocam S USB 2-in-1 Webcam and Document Camera
I’ve been teaching online for quite some time now, but recent developments associated with the COVID-19 pandemic have forced me to up my game even more. As part of that, I recently purchased an Okiocam S USB 2-in-1 webcam and document camera. I thought I would share a few thoughts about it for those of you who may be thinking of getting one.
First, the item is much smaller than I expected. As you can see in the photo below, when it is all folded up, it is really not much larger than a "medium" sized cup of coffee from a popular coffee chain.
The packaging is really good. The device was snuggled into its box with a "snuggie" of bubble wrap. One thing I really appreciated about the packaging was that on the back of the box was printed the "getting started" instructions in six well-defined and well-illustrated boxes. Beneath those boxes was another that showed how to set auto focus, exposure, and white balance. Basically, after a quick look, I basically already knew how to operate the device.
Included in the box is a little instruction booklet. The front of it gives very clear instructions on physically setting up the device for first use with an important word of caution: "Do not forcefully pull on the arm to avoid deformation of the base." Inside the booklet, after a table of contents and an "about" page, there are pages that show how to use the camera in the following software apps:
- Google Meet
- Microsoft Teams
- FaceTime on Mac
- Windows Camera App
- QuickTime Player on Mac
- Chromebook Camera AppFlipgrid
The last two pages contain marketing information about the Okiocam Education Kit, with links to various apps and tutorials. The back of the booklet says, "Thank you!" and provides links to more information, help, and sales. To be frank, it’s very rare that I find instruction booklets to be this helpful and clear to understand. Nice job Okiolabs!
Setting it Up
The first order of business is to unfold the base, which is a mat that expands and then slides underneath your computer. Then you have to carefully detach the camera arm from the "store" position and attach it to the base in the "use" position. Here it is with the base unfolded and the camera arm positioned in the "use" position.
Here it is with the mat tucked under my Mac.
Here it is all set up and plugged in. Note that, conveniently, there are little tabs on the arm into which can be clipped the USB cable so that it does not hang down into the frame. Also, the USB cable was long enough to wrap around my 13 inch MacBook Air to plug into the USB port (you will need a converter from USB A to USB C to plug it into a newer Mac).
How Does It Work?
The camera is plug and play for basic operations. I opened QuickTime Player, selected new Movie Recording from the file menu, selected the Okiocam as the as the camera and I was able to see on my screen what the camera was pointed at. However, when I clicked the record button and tried to record a 5 second video with it, only about 1.5 seconds actually recorded. That was disappointing, but I never use QuickTime for anything. I am not a fan.
I had better luck after having done the following:
- Install the Okiocam Button Driver for Mac (free from https://okiolabs.com/download/)
- Install the Okiocam Snapshot and Recorder Chrome Extension
The button driver added two items to the status menu of my Mac, a camera item, which only displays when Snapshot and Recorder extension is running in Chrome, and a camera control item (in that order).
The camera icon lets me open the Chrome Extension app quickly; the camera control item lets me adjust the camera’s exposure setting as well as trigger autofocus. The app provides pretty much what you’d expect with a document camera software. It’s not overly stocked with bells and whistles. After all, it is a Chrome extension. But for what it is, it’s just fine. One thing that was a little disappointing is that the camera will not record video when zoomed in, so I needed to physically adjust the camera arm to "zoom" for the video. Here is an example of recording a video using the Okiocam Snapshot and Recorder Chrome Extension (when I set up the extension, I told it to store everything to my Google Drive [awesome!]; the video was stored in a .webm format, which I uploaded to YouTube and embedded here).
Show video player
Here is a screenshot of the Okiocam Snapshot and Recorder Chrome Extension app running.
One other useful tool I downloaded was the Okiocam add-in for Google Slides (there are also add-ins for other GSuite apps). This allowed me to take snapshots of items with the camera and insert them into slides within my presentations. That’s potentially very useful for the language teacher that I am.
There are other features that I won’t cover here. To wrap up, I would say that I need more time to play with this thing (and by "play" I mean something more like "field test"). If I learn anything new or exciting, I will come back here and add a comment. At this point, overall, I am pleased with my purchase. The camera does what they say it will do.
Addendum (July 24, 2020 at 2:51 PM CDT)
When you use the camera on Google Meet, the image appears upside down to you but right side up to the person/people on the receiving end. Takes some getting used to, but as long as you are looking at the actual document you are showing and not at your screen, it works pretty well.