Pros:better-than-expected picture quality; easy to use; relatively sturdy
Cons:requires very good lighting conditions; occasionally locks up on Yahoo messenger
The Bottom Line: For the price, this camera can take remarkably high-quality video (in good light conditions) and more-than-adequate still images.
I decided to pick up a webcam just for the hell of it, to have a way to videoconference with some of my friends on Yahoo Messenger and to take basic digital snapshots if I needed. The Intel Deluxe PC Camera has definitely fit the bill, and has better picture quality than I would have expected for a $50 camera.
I picked the camera up from Amazon.com on one of their specials, and, being a USB camera, it was a breeze to set up. The image and video management software is a little too "cute" but it gets the job done. It is easy to take snapshots (just press the button on the camera) and manage the shots using the software.
Taking and editing video is also very easy with the included software — you can easily vary the sharpness, contrast, video window size, frame rate, white level, and color balance (though if you mess with the colors too much it can be difficult to get things back to a lifelike hue). Everything is saved in .AVI format which has worked well for me so far.
Still-image editing, however, is not a strong suit of the included software, so it would definitely help if you already have Photoshop or another such program. Furthermore, image management can become a bit cumbersome if you start to move your files around from the original locations were you saved them. The software relies on a "gallery" system that assumes you'll leave the files where you initially stored them, and you have to reset or recreate new image galleries if you start moving files around.
The most important aspect, image quality, was better than I expected. I have a friend who has a cheap Logitech camera, and the video from that thing is grainy and constantly an unnatural color, despite all attempts to adjust it. This Intel camera, on the other hand, produces surprisingly sharp video and still images. The one caveat is that image quality decreases considerably in low light levels. Considering the camera's low price, however, that isn't much of a surprise.
This camera seems to work well for simple videoconferencing in Yahoo Messenger and Microsoft NetMeeting. The camera has occasionally locked Yahoo Messenger up, but I would assume that's a relatively common problem with USB cameras that aren't quite as plug-and-play as people would like them to be. But it's an infrequent occurrence and not a big problem.
The camera construction seems relatively sturdy. The only problem is that the camera itself is very light, and therefore can around quite a bit when you don't want it to. There is a peel-off adhesive area included on the camera mount, but there's no real way to keep the camera stationary if you don't want to mess up your desk or computer surface with an adhesive.
On the whole, I don't have many complaints because my expectations for this camera were pretty low. The included features are definitely more than adequate, as is image quality, except in low light. All in all, a great basic webcam for still images or simple internet videoconferencing.
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