When it comes to holding a video conference or simply chatting with friends over MSN, a webcam can really enhance the experience.
The Microsoft LifeCam VX-3000 slips in to any available USB port on your PC. It has a clip that has been designed to attach to the top of your monitor and is wide enough so it can easily hold on to a notebook's lid too.
The bundled software is quick and easy to install and as with all similar cameras, once it’s installed, you simply plug the camera in and it’s instantly recognised.
Being a Microsoft webcam, it’s designed to be used with MSN, so you won’t find any other client software bundled and the setup wizard automatically prompts you to either download Messenger or to check for the latest upgrade if you already use it. While this may seem a little cynical, the reason people will no doubt opt for a Microsoft webcam is the brand loyalty is offers. However, if you use a different IM tool, it will readily work with it, you just need to manually set it up.
Image quality is entry-level, with a 640 x 480-pixel resolution in movie mode and can also capture still image using the 1.3-megapixel CCD. We found quality was acceptable but to make the most of it, you’ll need to optimise the colour settings with your own machine. We found it worked best in brighter rooms, as images looked blurry and faded when we tried to use it in low-lit conditions.
Sound quality also proved less than impressive, with the audio being muffled and distorted.
For the asking price, the Microsoft LifeCam VX-3000 is a no frills webcam that works well but isn’t exactly cutting-edge and the average family will quickly find itself out-growing its capabilities.