Lorenzo Martinelli of Italianwords is a lecturer, tutor, and translator with over 30 years of experience. In his search for a camera that would complement his online tutoring, he found OKIOCAM. In this blog, Lorenzo shares his first impressions on the OKIOCAM T Plus document camera.
As a lecturer, tutor, and translator, I find the “Second Camera” function of Zoom very useful.
I use it to display content from books and paper documents, I point it to a small portable whiteboard to explain language concepts, I have used it to play games like “Memory” or “Pictionary”. I use it to revise text for translation in real-time. Being able to point to a picture, an object, or to a word with a pencil or your finger is fast and gives your viewers, students, etc. a sense of participation that is often, in my experience, much more realistic than using electronic whiteboards.
Looking for the perfect document camera
But what do you do if you are traveling, if you are on holiday somewhere and you still want to run a lesson after you come back from the beach, or if your own home Internet drops and you have a meeting planned for the next hour or so?
While I have been living in the UK for many years, I still retain strong links with Italy and, after the travel restrictions are lifted, I am planning to spend some extended time there, but I would like to continue working, even when traveling.
I was looking, therefore, for a portable, lightweight, and effective document camera.
The 5MP OKIOCAM T Plus fits this bill perfectly. Weighing just above 300g (I weighed it), it almost fits into my back pocket.
Its specifications are also very good: 5-megapixel camera, definition up to 2592×1944 pixels, covers an A3 sheet, its base is a nifty foldable dry-erase board (in the version I acquired). They even include a good dry-erase marker and a microfibre erasing cloth (but not a holding pouch). They could even sell them from vending machines at airports for forgetful tutors.
But how does it hold in real life? It holds very well. It’s recognized by the two OS’s I use, (Windows 10 and macOS Big Sur) immediately and can be used in Zoom as either its main camera or its second camera. It should work out of the box also on Chromebooks, but I have no way of testing that.
The OKIOCAM S is targeted to students, with a 3MP camera, and an A4 coverage, while the 5 MP OKIOCAM T Plus, the model I have, with a drywipe board, and the OKIOCAM T, identical to the Plus but without the drywipe board, have an A3 coverage.
Using Windows 10’s own camera App at its standard settings, the contrast is good (my whiteboard is dirty) and the colors are nice and balanced.
OKIOLABS, the manufacturer, is geared straight towards the educational sector. It is an American company and provides a number of applications for Windows, macOS, and Chrome specifically targeted to tutors and teachers, including a general Camera App, as well as Stop Motion and Time Lapse recording apps, and other integrations specific to the Google Docs ecosystem.
While I don’t need these apps in my own practice at the moment, I can see how interesting and useful they could be when blogging or teaching or giving demonstrations on other practical subjects, such as drawing, knitting, sewing, origami, making and tinkering in general.
The camera head is a small flat affair with a number of buttons and a threaded tripod socket, good if you want to mount the camera on a different stand. The buttons allow you to zoom, adjust, and flip the image when these functions are not provided via software. As it is not intended as a general use webcam, it does not have a built-in microphone.
Finally, I thought the built-in folding whiteboard surface would be a bit of a gimmick, instead it works just as well as my “real” whiteboard. One less thing to lug about! And it’s probably worth the price differential with the T version without it.
I am really happy with my latest acquisition.
It’s given me additional flexibility and freedom to work away from my office and as soon as it’s safe to do so, I’ll be off to Italy and I will hold my lessons from there, in front of a proper espresso.