Apple's iSight camera is an amazing product... except for one thing... the mounts that ship with it are really not up to the high design standards of the camera. Who really wants to deal with adhesive tape plastic do-hickies, and clumsy clamps? Not me. Shame on you Apple!
Luckily for us demanding folks, the geeks at MacMice have stepped up to the plate and created a few insanely great solutions to the iSight's Achilles' heel. I had the pleasure to try out two of their products, the SightFlex and the iFlex.
The SightFlex features a chrome plated, flexible steel tube, which is mounted to a painted hemispherical base. The end of the flexible tube is a male 6-pin Firewire connector, where you plug in your iSight camera. Coming out of the base, at the end of about 5 feet of cable, is the other Firewire connector. This is the end you plug into your Mac.
Standing straight and proud, it is over 20-inches tall... tall enough to reach over the top of a 23-inch Apple Cinema Display. The SightFlex can be twisted, bent and deformed into pretty much any shape you can imagine in your quest to find a perfect spot for your camera. It's just one of those great ideas... you move it to where you want it and it stays.. simple as that. No reattaching clamps, lost plastic connector thingies, or any of the other frustrations of the standard Apple mounts. It adds a degree of freedom to your iSight that is missing from the standard mounts, and this freedom to move your camera anywhere you want really adds to the iSight experience.
Another great perk of the SightFlex... freedom to remove the camera easily and quickly. Just plug it in, or plug it out, no annoying plastic pieces, or unthreading a Firewire cable to deal with.
A funky, slightly unsettling way to plug in your favorite Firewire drive! (Not recommended, but fun to try.)
So this all this adds up to an accessory that will make your entire iSight life easier and more flexible. I think you'll end up using your camera more.
Keep on Flexin!
So, there you have it, don't worry about breaking this goose's neck, in fact, you'll find SightFlex flexing to be an extremely addictive activity. It's fun pretending it is a solid steel rod and that you have Superman powers to bending it. (Hey, a geek's gotta dream, right?)
When adjusting the gooseneck of the SightFlex, you'll often hear a cracking sound, as if you were a chiropractor working away on a silvery spine. Says the friendly MacMice-ian representative Christy, "Mighty MacMice Technicians recently made SightFlex 50% stronger and the base a tad bit heavier, adding MUSCLE! That crackling you hear is the MUSCLE working !!!! Don't worry, it's not going to break. Flex that MUSCLE!"
The Sightflex's sleek chrome styling suits the Mac's look perfectly, and it doesn't take up much space on your desktop. The long cable from the base is nice, it'll reach down to your floor-mounted Mac without problem.
The iFlex is a lighter version of the SightFlex, for use specifically with PowerBooks or iBooks. It doesn't have a base, the iFlex simply plugs into the Firewire port on your Powerbook or iBook. I was less enamored by the iFlex... it didn't work too well with my Pismo (the connection to the Pismo's Firewire port on the back of the computer was a little loose, and the camera was therefore unstable), however it might be that on a newer PowerBook, with the ports on the side, that this isn't so much of a problem. What helped make up for this was it's extremely favorable design for Superman bending... it's just really fun to twist and bend in your hands.(Hmmm, maybe I'm just twisted!)
SightFlex, from MacMice
5 Geeks out of 5 Geeks! WHOA!
No iSight should be without the handy dandy SightFlex. If Life were fair, Apple would include one with every iSight!
Batman Mode! Tilting the camera a little to the side makes your workspace seem like an evil villain's lair! Your iChatAV Buddies will wonder... "What's his iSight on?"
Things I'd like to see in the next versions:
- A Sightflex/iFlex combo... have the iFlex plug into a weighted base so it can be used in both modes, or else sell a clamp (like a clamp light) with the iFlex.
- Slightly heavier base. I'm often use a wide angle lens on the iSight, and although the SightFlex still performs admirably, it could be a little heavier, especially when I'm impressing my fellow geeks with my cool Firewire drive stand. (Then again, it's nothing that a counterweight roll of duct tape sitting on the base can't handle.)
-A chrome-plated (rather than painted) base would be nice. Mmmm... shiny metal object!
However, these are complete nitpicks and I would highly recommend the Sightflex to any iSight owner.
How to get one
The SightFlex is available for $29.99 and the iFlex is available for $19.99 at a number of online retailers, including the MacMice website.