This is one of a series of blog posts about the new features in Parallels Desktop® 14 for Mac.
One of the new features in Parallels Desktop 14 is support for 4K cameras. This new feature is extremely easy to set up and use—and this blog post will show you how.
Shared Resource vs. Exclusive Resources
A camera is an example of a shared resource in Parallels Desktop. A shared resource is one that can be used by both macOS® and Windows at the same time. Because an operating system only takes data from the camera, there’s no issue with two OSes using it simultaneously.
Unlike a shared resource, a device like a USB disk or thumb drive cannot be shared. Since a disk can be written to by an OS, it must be an exclusive resource to just one OS. A disk could get corrupted if both OSes were writing to it at that same time. If a device must be exclusively used by just one OS, you will see the Where to Connect dialog when you attach it to your Mac®. (See Figure 1.)
Setting up a 4K Camera in Parallels Desktop 14
Since a camera is a shared resource in Parallels Desktop, you just have to set up the camera to be used by the macOS, and Windows will automatically see and use the camera.
In my case, I chose the Logitech Brio as my 4K camera. To set it up on my Mac, I only needed to download and run the Logitech Firmware Update Tool and the Camera Settings app from the Logitech website. (See Figure 2.)
After the Brio is properly configured, Windows automatically does all the behind-the-scenes configuration when I boot up my Windows 10 VM so that the Brio works with Windows.
Using the Windows 10 Camera App with the Brio
I only had one small problem while using the Brio with the Windows 10 Camera app on my MacBook Pro®. I had to tell Windows which camera to use: the iSight camera built into the MacBook Pro, or the Logitech Brio connected via USB. It turns out that despite many user requests, there is no setting in Windows 10 to pick a default camera when there are multiple cameras available.
Fortunately, the Camera app has a “Change Camera” button to cycle through all the cameras that are currently connected to Windows 10. After using this button to select the Brio, everything worked fine, and I was getting the full 4K resolution image. (See Figure 3.)
(In case you’re wondering, 3840×2160 is the resolution for a 4K consumer camera.)
One word of advice: use the USB or other cable that comes with the 4K camera you purchase. A 4K image contains a lot of data, and a poor cable will not be able to transfer all this data in a timely manner.
What’s the Big Deal about 4K?
The amount of additional detail in a 4K image is vast. Figure 4 (from MakeUseOf.com) shows this conceptually, and this comparison video on YouTube shows you the differences side by side. Personally, I see a big difference and appreciate it immensely. When I purchase movies or TV shows from iTunes, I always choose the HD version or 4K version. This is why I’m really pleased that Parallels Desktop 14 now supports 4K.
However, if you can’t see much difference between standard-definition television and high-definition television (or can see it but don’t value it), then you probably won’t care much about 4K. (Some of my good friends are in this group. Despite all my attempts to explain and demonstrate the difference, I just can’t convince them.) Fortunately, Parallels Desktop 14 has loads of additional new features for them. I’ll be covering these in future blog posts.