In praise of the glorious, wildly over-engineered iSight webcam

It’s the holiday season, and it might be that like me you’re spending it away from your family. And it might be that like me, you are planning a series of video calls with them as a way of keeping in touch even though you’re hundreds of miles away. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than nothing; it’s better than a phone call.

These days—and what glorious days they are—we think nothing of holding up an iPhone and starting a FaceTime call, or launching Skype on a Mac and getting connected in seconds with full-screen, relatively smooth video, but this is because for ages now, or at least so it seems, every laptop, desktop, and mobile device has had a front-facing camera in it. The cameras embedded even in the current, top-of-the-line Macs are frankly ridiculously substandard, as my friend Peter Cohen wrote earlier this year at iMore, but they’re there.

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