As an iPhone user I’m already acquainted with the dubious thrills of holding video chats via Apple’s Facetime service but as a Mac Mini user I’ve always been able to excuse myself from taking the experience to the desktop because the Mini lacks a built-in camera.
But recently tech firm Creative got in touch and asked if we’d be interested in reviewing their new Live! Cam Connect HD webcam.
The last time I used a standalone webcam it was a Logitech something or other and looked like a large, disembodied eyeball.
My recollection is the picture quality wasn’t great, images tended to be jerky and the computer tended to forget it was connected and I’d find myself re-installing drivers.
The Live! Cam Connect HD is a very different experience.
To say I installed the camera on my system would be a gross exaggeration – all that was needed was for me to plug its USB connection into a spare port and place it on top of my monitor.
There was a CD in the box but this seemed only to apply to Windows users – it contains some .exe files and folders named ‘Drivers’ that don’t interest my Mac.
Firing up my beta of Apple’s Messages software confirmed no further effort was needed – clicking the software’s camera icon allowed me to preview what the camera could see while I signed into Facetime.
What I saw – grey hairs and wrinkles aside – was a testament to the progress of consumer tech in the years since my Logitech sat unused before being added to landfill.
As its name suggests, the Live! Cam Connect HD offers HD quality images (720p) subject to your broadband and PC meeting a minimum spec and uses an onboard video encoder to reduce CPU usage on your computer.
Colours were faithful and accurate and the camera offers a fluid, real-time tracking of movements unlike the ‘stop-frame’ nature of web chats back in the distance past.
Of course any web chat isn’t just about the pictures – the keyword is ‘chat’ and that implies sound. Here the Live! Cam Connect HD excels with a noise-cancelling mic ensuring that extraneous background sounds are eliminated in favour of your conversation.
The Live! Cam Connect HD is a good piece of kit, it works as expected (at least on a Mac, no Windows machines are allowed here at seenit.co.uk Towers) looks great and has decent build quality.
Unusually for a tech gadget there aren’t any noticeable downsides, there are no obvious cut corners – unless any Mac users wanted a CD of software that mostly seems to duplicate Mac OS X features – and there are no unpleasant surprises on unboxing.
If you’re in the market for a new webcam and aren’t put off by the £60 asking price than the Live! Cam Connect HD is worth a look.
Sensor: HD 720p image sensor
Video resolution: 1280 x 720
Picture resolution: 8 megapixels^
Frame rate: Up to 30fps @ HD 720p quality
Auto focus lens
Integrated microphone with noise-cancellation
Plug & chat with Windows, Mac OSX 10.5 and Linux 2.6
Cable length: 1.5 meters / 4.9 ft
USB 2.0 Hi-Speed