Webcam reviews

Webcams are handy for instant messaging, video chats and quick snaps.
 
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03.Product profiles

Logitech QuickCam Sphere AF

Price $199 Logitech

Good points:

  • Supplied column attachment raises camera closer to head height (but see Bad points).
  • Software supports video uploading to YouTube, Crackle and Logitech Mobile Video services.

Bad points:

  • No in-built functionality for snapshot uploading.
  • Motorised pan/tilt is jerky.
  • Camera is much less stable when the column attachment is used.

Microsoft LifeCam VX-6000

Price $99 Microsoft

Good points:

  • Designed to work with Microsoft’s Windows Live Spaces online service.
  • Can clip on top of an LCD screen or laptop computer.

Bad points:

  • The USB cable interferes with the pan/tilt of the camera on its base and makes it unstable.
  • Produces jerky video even with moderate light levels.
  • No zoom.

Creative Live! Cam Optia AF

Price $129 Creative

Good points:

  • Supplied with combined earphones/microphone.
  • Supplied with a soft cover.
  • Supports video output in AVI and WMV formats.
  • Supports snapshot output in both BMP and JPEG formats.
  • Easiest to use for still image uploading to the internet.

Bad points:

  • No in-built functionality for video uploading.
  • Still images have noticeable pixelation.
  • Still images have a pinkish tinge (poor automatic white balance).
  • Relatively low score for still images.

Pro-Q Motion Tracking Web Cam

Price $77 Pro-Q

Good points:

  • Fixed focus lens means no waiting for auto-focus or having to manually focus the lens (but see Bad points)

Bad points:

  • Video scan rate defaults to 60Hz and may create flickering video when shooting under artificial light unless adjusted.
  • Motorised pan/tilt is jerky.
  • Much of the supplied software is unintuitive and not easy to use.
  • Does not list any compatible applications for IM chat or videoconferencing.
  • Images consistently soft looking (maybe due to fixed focus lens).
  • Image colours undersaturated.
  • Produces very jerky video even with moderate light levels.

Speed S8800i

Price $85 Speed

Good points:

  • Supplied with a mini tripod (but see Bad points).
  • Has a large shutter button on the top of the camera for taking snapshots.
  • Apple Mac compatible.

Bad points:

  • Camera not very stable when on supplied mini tripod, and is even less stable without it.
  • Camera is loose on its base and difficult to aim accurately as a result.
  • The focus thumbwheel has little resistance and is difficult to set accurately.
  • Much of the supplied software is unintuitive and not easy to use.
  • Does not list any compatible applications for IM chat or videoconferencing.
  • Couldn’t locate a vendor website, so after sales support may be an issue.
  • Produces jerky video even with moderate light levels.
  • Still images have very noticeable barrel distortion Borderline score for still images.
 

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