Video calling doesn’t just have to be for the latest mobile phones. Computers have been offering the ability to talk to someone in person for the last ten years, so what makes the latest top of the range WebCam from Creative stand out from the crowd and more to the point, should we upgrade?
With three new models launched at the tale end of 2004, the Creative WebCam Live! Pro sits at the top of the pile. It offers a number of features including USB2.0 support, 1 megapixel still image capture and a host of other features.
The PC-only model, in black and silver colours, has been designed to sit on both a flat surface and hang from a flat screen display. Focusing is done manually via a simple bezel on the lens and the top of the device sports a still capture facility giving you the option of catching the odd 1 megapixel still image if need be.
Also included in the box is a separate flat, small and compact microphone that plugs into your sound card directly. In the past Creative has always offers the long stick microphones and it’s nice to see them being a bit more creative (excuse the pun) with the styling of the microphone, however with an adhesive backing we get the feeling you are suppose to stick this to your monitor anyway, and no doubt probably next to the camera. If this is the case why couldn’t it have just built it into the camera to start with?
The camera itself offers 640x480 movie capture at 30 frames per second and in the tests we carried out over a 256kbps broadband connection to another 256kbps broadband the video feed was very good and fluid.
Aside from the messaging function - it ships with Yahoo Messenger, but supports MSN and AOL, the WebCam Live! Pro comes with Creative’s own WebCam suite (found in other models) and a bunch of extra software from ArcSoft including PhotoImpression, Video Impression, Multimedia Email, and Collage Creator.
The main USP here is both the inclusion of the ArcSoft software and, supposedly, a tracking feature that will ensure you are centre stage no matter how much you move around. The software has three options; Off, Constant and Semi-constant. In our tests the results were dire and disjointed with the camera at times randomly zooming in on parts of our leg rather than us talking. It was so disjointed and distracting that we soon turned it off.
While the Creative software allows you to do a host of functions such as Motion Detection, Time Lapse Video, and Remote Record with results posting to a web server of your choice there is not enough to make us excited about the WebCam Live! Pro.
If you really must have 640x480 image resolution then this is as good a WebCam as any as long as you are a PC user, but if your plan is to use it for the odd instant video messaging with your mates then you would be better off with a cheaper model as the supposed killer app of face tracking isn't that killer at all.