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Creative Promises A Lot But Delivers Little With Their Live! IM WebCam

Dec 15, 2006
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Small, good for laptops or desktops, SightSpeed, motion detection.

Cons:Can cause computer freezing and lock-ups, doesn't live up to product claims.

The Bottom Line: If you need a basic webcam then this is fine but don't count on the advanced features to work.




I could sit here and complain about the Creative Labs Video Blaster WebCam Plus, that it would often crash my computer or that the picture wasn't always crystal clear but in all honesty, I put that thing through hell and amazingly, it still works. A few friends were raving about the Creative Live webcam and said that once I used it, I would never go back to my ancient WebCam Plus. They made it sound like it was the latest and greatest thing around and there was no way I could live without it. Strolling into Best Buy [a place that I truly loathe] I saw them stacked up on an end cap with a sale sign above them. That should have been the first clue that these weren't as great as everyone claimed, the second tip off was the warranty that was heavily pushed when I went to pay for it. Considering that this was selling for under twenty dollars, I should have known that it wasn't something that was going to perform even half as good as Creative claimed. Sure you are going to get a small, easy to place webcam that can be used with a desktop or laptop computer but as far as all the features, bells, whistles and perks, good luck getting them to work. Maybe Creative should start packaging these with a rabbit's foot or four leave clover; that may improve your chances of getting and of the 'features' to work.

Creative Live! Video IM Personal Web Cam

This makes a hell of a lot of promises but doesn’t deliver many of them. The one thing that I really wanted this for was to add stuff to messenger windows in Yahoo Messenger. Creative claims that this can be used with Yahoo and MSN Messenger and the ever-popular Skype. Yes, it does come with the software that you need to run Yahoo and MSN's messenger programs so if you don't have them on your computer, that solves the issue of downloading them but you will still have to go and get the updates for both of them. The versions that come with the CD Rom aren't the newest ones so you can have some messaging conflicts if you are trying to connect with other people who have Yahoo version eight or nine. I don't have Skype, I don't ever plan on having Skype so that wasn't a real big selling point for me. One thing that needs to be pointed out is that Skype is a pay service, this doesn’t allow you to use it for free. Some people complained about this saying that they thought they were going to get Skype for free by purchasing this. Hey, even I'm not that stupid to think that you are going to be able to access a pay service for free.

Getting this up and running isn't hard; it was about the same as when I installed the WebCam Live set up for the old cam. Put the CD in the drive, close the door, wait for it to start loading. There are a lot of different things that you can import from the CD, the more you choose the better your experience will be, or so you are led to believe. There are photo editing programs and ones that allow you to add special effects to images [slide shows, shimmer, glitter, blinking borders etc] but that is too taxing a proposition for me. I did like the photo storage and labeling aspect of it but it did take a while for the actual loading and transferring of the files so don't think this is a two minute install. The Cam Suite that controls the cam works about the same way as the one for my old webcam so I didn’t have to spend time reading the booklet or playing around with the icons. One of the nice things about this is that it has the motion detection module with it. This can be set up to start recording or displaying when ever there is motion in the path of the camera. You will need to play around with the setting and sensitivity level of this to get it to work properly and you will need a way to save any video images that are captured.

If you have used other older webcams and had problems with the lighting or the images being dark, that doesn't happen all that often with this one. It has a built in program called SightSpeed that monitors the amount of available light and adjust the cam accordingly. I did have some problems in low lighting situations but all I had to do was flip on the lamp on my desk and it brightened up in a couple of seconds. For the most part the streaming image you see in the display box on the screen is clear but that is what you are seeing, not what others are seeing. What they see depends on the resolution they have their screen set at and how you are connecting to them. The easiest way is to use Yahoo and let their software link you to another person. As I said, I don't have Skype so I have no idea how you use that system to link up your cam so someone else can view it. The headset that comes with it is on the cheap side, it will allow you to speak and hear things but if you are around anything like a microwave or cable box, you can and will get interference from it. I used it about ten times before I threw it in the drawer and used the one that came with U.S. Navy Seals / SoCom. Sure it doesn't look all that great but it works a hell of a lot better than what came with this cam set up.

One thing that didn't impress me at all was the photo manager; I know, that sounds like I am contradicting myself but let me explain exactly what I mean. If you are importing pictures and you want to organize them using this, that's fine if you already know what they look like but if they are things that you copied from the internet or were sent in an email or IM, you will need to click on them to see them clearly because the thumbnail images are practically impossible to view clearly. I liked the photo manager that came with my old cam but sadly there is no way to use that software with this webcam because while they are from the same company and have a lot of the same features, the two just don't work with each other. I was able to access things that were saved and edited with my old software with no trouble but things that were edited with the Kodak software needed to be tweaked a little so they looked clear and had a nice solid color to them.

Whenever I tried to use this with a Yahoo IM window it would freeze and bump me off the Yahoo service. I was still connected to the internet but had to reconnect to Yahoo and start the process all over. The same thing happened with MSN, as soon as I would try to import pictures or use any of the advanced features of this, it would freeze and disconnect me. I emailed customer service about it but they were slow to reply about it and when they did, it was a canned response telling me to try playing around with my settings or using a different method to connect to the internet. None of their suggestions worked so I started to play around with it and had no luck getting the features to work. I tried this on my neighbor's computer and had no luck there and he has a computer set up that most people would kill for so it wasn't anything that could be chalked up to poor system management or not having enough memory or speed to handle the applications.

System Requirements

I am not a technical person but even I was able to read the box before I bought it and see that the computers in the house could all handle this webcam. You need to have Windows 98 or better, 200 mb of free hard drive space, 128 free or available RAM and a USB port free. Of course you need to have a CD drive too, otherwise you won't be able to load the software needed to run the cam and access those tasty features like photo editing and adding images to IM's. I did have to play around with the screen display in order to see the video stream clearly, I'm not sure if this had anything to do with my computer, the settings or the cam itself so if you see grainy or dark images or the colors are way off, go into the control panel and adjust your settings. As I said, I am not a computer person but even I was able to get the "basics" of this webcam up and running. It was the advanced features that proved to be extremely frustrating.

Warranty

Creative offers you a one year warranty on this but it does no good if you don't fill out the warranty card or go online to register it. This warranty covers workmanship and defects but doesn't cover the headset or misuse. This is intended for personal use so if it is used in a commercial setting, the warranty is void. Best Buy really tried to push the extended warranty that they offer on this but when I asked about it, they couldn't give me any details about it. Their solution was to give me a toll free phone number to call for the details but I had to buy the warranty when I bought the webcam before I knew exactly what their extended warranty would and wouldn't cover. Put it this way, this is a nice webcam to have if you just want someone to see you but if you are going to fall for the 'hook, line and sinker' aspect of the perks of this, you are going to hate it and end up tossing it in a drawer. Buying the warranty from Best Buy was a complete joke, if they couldn't tell me about it then what motivation did I have to pay extra for it?

The Bottom Line

The last time I saw my friends that recommended this I asked them how they liked theirs [just to be sarcastic], they had no comment. Their little romance with the Live! wore off after they too had the same problems with using the advanced features. If you are looking for a webcam to use with Yahoo or MSN and don't want to spend a lot of money then this is nice but all the added features and perks that they list shouldn't be something that influences your decision. Sure, you may buy this and it might work perfectly for you but I wouldn't get your heart set on it. The way that I use this is to open Yahoo Messenger, go to the control panel and start the webcam from that. If you try to have it opened and running before you open either NSM or Yahoo you could have trouble with it linking and synching up. There's no way I would ever pay more than twenty dollars for this because you can get other webcams that provide this level of streaming quality that price. If the perks that the advertise actually worked then this would be something that I might pay about forty dollars for but until Creative works out the bugs in the software and gets better customer and technical support agents, I can't recommend this to anyone that wants more than just a basic webcam.


As always, thanks for the visit…

~^V^~ Freak ~^V^~

© 2006 Freak369


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