Creative Webcam Pro eX 26th December 2002
Webcams have been with us for some time now without fulfilling the promise of providing video conferencing on every workstation. After the relative failure of this technology in the corporate workplace, webcams started being pitched at the home user. To achieve this they had to offer more features and low prices. Creative's latest offering promises both of these.
So what do you actually get along with the basic unit?
A headset is included and the webcam has the ability to take pictures at up to 1025x768 like a camera. Here are the official specs:
Features & Specifications
Video Mode Performance
Video Resolutions (5-30fps)
Still Image Resolutions
Quite impressive features given the price. Setup was very straightforward and there were some useful programs for video editing on the CD. It is expected that users will use Microsoft's NetMeeting with this product which is unfortunate as to date we have tried to use this with 9 different PCs in different cities in the UK without success (I am sure it works for someone somewhere) so we used Yahoo Instant Messenger instead which worked fine.
The audio sounds great despite the tacky look of the headset and the microphone is of sufficient quality to avoid distortion and warbling. Full duplex mode went without problems (this does depend on your sound card though). As with all webcams the picture was a little disappointing (this is one of the best ones we have seen). Here's a shot of the video conferencing software in action to show what I mean:
You can click on all the images for the larger picture. Images produced by the camera were grainy and sluggish (except at low resolutions) although perfectly acceptable for recognising the person being spoken with.
Testing its digital capture ability we compared it with our Fuji digital camera. Obviously this is an unfair comparison give the price disparity but is useful for evaluating the webcam in its digital camera mode. It can never truly fulfill this function though as it is always connected by its USB lead.
The quality is clearly not up to that of a conventional digital camera but seems ideally suited to taking quick pictures for inclusion in documents and for creating ad-hoc clip art. Despite this it is better than any comparable product we know of.
This is the same picture from our Fuji camera and is more representative of what can be expected of a digital camera (albeit at a much higher price).
is a well-priced tool for users to communicate over LANs and the internet
although a broadband connection is required in the second instance. With
one of these on each end phone calls from around the world can be made for
free and distant relatives will be able to see as well as hear their loved
ones. The headset while looking like a disposable airline model actually
works quite well (not comfortable for prolonged usage though) and sounds
natural. Creative have done what they are good at which is catering to the
home user at a price that will make everyone happy.
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All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.