Pros:Very sharp, sensitive to low light, manual focus control, rock-solid installation
Cons:Cataloging app takes over entire screen
I bought the Intel PC Camera two days after buying a cheaper alternative, the Kensington VideoCAM. Attracted by its low price ($20 after rebates), the Kensington proved to support the old adage, "You get what you pay for." In this case, it was a very out-of-focus image and bloated, ungainly software. The software was extremely resource hungry (both physical RAM and GDI resources) and also seemed slow in capturing frames in time-lapse mode.
Back to the Intel PC Camera...
Rated as an Editor's Choice by PC Magazine (you can't go wrong by their reviews imho), the Intel PC Camera has proved to be a worthy little brother of its more expensive sibling, the Intel PC Camera Pro. The "Pro" adds a socket that lets you connect a video camera or VCR to it, thereby giving you a poor-man's frame grabber. Other than that, they are essentially the same thing.
Since I don't own a video camera, and because I wanted something reasonably inexpensive that I could use for video-conferencing and as a web-cam (see http://www.ravib.com/ravicam) I decided to purchase the vanilla version.
Right off the bat, I was impressed by the following:
- Rock solid installation program
- Extremely sharp image
- Amazing sensitivity to low light
- Manual control for fine-tuning focus
Besides a bunch of games that I didn't get around to playing with, the camera ships with three pieces of software:
- image cataloger program
- video phone
- snapshot capture program
I haven't put the first two thru their paces, but found the snapshot capture program attractive and easy to use. I was disappointed by the cataloger because it takes over my entire screen. I use a 1600x1200 21" monitor and have no desire to run the cataloger (or most apps for that matter) in full-screen mode. The cataloger doesn't let you move or resize the app. Shame, shame!
I use Bill Oatman's SpyCam (see http://www.getspycam.cjb.net) to capture and upload images to my website at regular intervals. While SpyCam's interface could be somewhat improved, I was very impressed by its customizability and performance. I strongly recommend it. It's well worth the $15 shareware fee the author requests.
For someone starting out with internet video, I strongly endorse the Intel PC Camera. If you own a video camera, you might want to pay a little more for the Pro version.
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