Is it worth to replace notebook webcams with more professional equipment for video chats? Let’s check it out using a Microsoft webcam as an example.
Nowadays we talk to each other more and more often not via text messengers, but using webcams, usually installed in our notebooks. This is of course convenient – we do not have to buy additional equipment. But after some time it turns out that the limitations of such devices (poor sound recording, poor image, inability to change camera settings) become a problem. After all, we talk more and more often in this way, often with people we care about very much – family, life partner or friends. We do not want technical problems to hinder our contact with them. This is where a dedicated webcam comes into play.
We received a LifeCam Cinema camcorder for testing from Microsoft Hardware. The kit includes the camera itself, drivers and manual. Installation of the drivers took several minutes – which was a bit of a surprise. During the process we have to install Windows Messenger on our computer. We absolutely do not have to use it, but it is unavoidable.
Along with the communicator, the LifeCam application and drivers will be installed on our computer. We do not have to use the LifeCam application, but it allows us to use the camera as a camera, video recorder, and also as a modifier of our appearance – we can use several effects straight from the study of mirrors and various types of funny hats, masks, etc. Interesting, but not for everyone.
What exactly can LifeCam do?
– 720p image resolution up to 30 frames per second,
– Auto-focus, which means better sharpness,
– ClearFrame technology digitally cleans up the image and improves quality, e.g. in a dark room,
– Digital microphone with noise cancelling technology.
The camera itself has an aluminum casing and a rubber stand, so you can hook it up to your notebook or casually lay it on your desk. Or in any other place – the cable is long enough.
There’s not much you can accuse Microsoft’s camera of – the picture looks great (it’s worth having a connection with a transfer rate better than 2 Mb/sec to appreciate it), the microphone works great as well (I know what I’m writing – I speak quite quietly). The quality “tuning” when transmitting the signal from rooms with poor lighting also worked properly, although it is difficult to expect miracles. During the tests, the camera did not once cause technical problems.
LifeCam Microsoft Hardware turns out to be a good product. For a large part of users this equipment will be too professional to use it among friends (especially if they do not have a good transfer – they will not appreciate the HD quality). However, for people looking for a good webcam – it will be just fine.