Webcam reviews

Webcams are handy for instant messaging, video chats and quick snaps.
 
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02.Results

 The following models scored the best results in our test 

What to buy
Brand Price
Logitech QuickCam Sphere AF $199
Microsoft LifeCam VX-6000 $99
Creative Live! Cam Optia AF $129
 

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Results table

Full results for all models are showin in the table below 

  Features
Brand/model 1 Price Paid Overall 2 Image performance (30%) 3 Sound performance (20%) 4 Ease of use (50%) Face Tracking Motorised pan/tilt Motion Detection Auto focus Can mount on LCD monitor Remote Still / Remote Monitor Scheduled recording
Logitech QuickCam Sphere AF
www.logitech.com
199 61 61 65 59
Microsoft LifeCam VX-6000
www.microsoft.com.au
99 60 58 65 59
Creative Live! Cam Optia AF
www.creative.com
129 57 53 50 62
Pro-Q Motion Tracking Web Cam
www.proq.com.tw
77 38 38 10 49
Speed S8800i
(ns)
85 36 43 5 45
 

 

Specifications
Minimum Windows system requirements Minimum Mac system requirements Maximum still resolution (pixels, claimed) (a) Software provided Warranty (years)
XP na 3264 x 2448 Logitech QuickCam 2
XP SP2 na 2560 x 2048 Microsoft LifeCam, Microsoft Live Messenger, Windows LiveCall ns
XP SP2 na 3200x2400 Drivers, Creative Live! Cam Optia AF, Sightspeed, muveeNow 2
na 640 x 480 Drivers, Smart Cam Plus, Ulead Photo Express SE, Ulead Photo Explorer SE, Ulead Photo Cool 360 ns
98SE OS X 10.4 3200x2400 Drivers, VP-Eye, AMCAP ns
 

Table notes:

1 Price paid in February 2008

2 Image performance (30% of Overall)

3 Sound performance (20% of Overall)

4 Ease of use (50% of Overall) how easy the webcam was to set up, adjust and use for basic tasks.

5 Features Face Tracking whether the webcam can focus on facial features as you move; Motorised pan/tilt motor-driven left right (pan) and up-down (tilt) movement; Motion Detection ability to sense movement within the field of view and respond; Auto focus automatic adjustment to obtain the clearest image; Can mount on LCD monitor whether the camera can sit atop a flat panel monitor; Remote Still / Remote Monitor if the camera can be operated remotely to take stills and video (e.g. for security surveillance); Scheduled recording whether the camera can be set to record automatically at pre-set times.

Footnotes

[a] Final resolution may be enhanced or interpolated.
NS = not specified

How we tested

To test image quality, we took a snapshot at each camera’s highest still picture resolution, plus a 30 second video at the highest video resolution. This was done under both moderate and low lighting.

To test audio quality, a video recording was made as a CHOICE lab tester read the same document to each camera microphone. Each recording was played back on the same PC using the same monitor and headphones.

Note that we only tested these cameras with their supplied software and in some cases this may have limited their potential (a web search for ‘webcam software’ will turn up many third-party programs that could provide better, or extra, functionality).

Only the Pro-Q and Speed S8800i allow the camera to upload to the internet with their supplied software, but in both cases this wasn’t easy. These two also scored low marks overall in our tests. Neither of these cameras listed any compatible chat/conference software. If you want to use any webcam with a particular chat or editing software it’s best to check compatibility before purchase.

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