|Microsoft LifeCam VX-5500 Webcam E4C-00001|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: WebCam | Camera|
|Written by Kevin Karlin - Edited by Olin Coles|
|Saturday, 12 September 2009|
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Lifecam VX 5500 Detailed Features
As is typical with every webcam I have used, you are required to install the drivers and software before plugging the camera in. The installation CD checks for updated software before installing to ensure you have the most recent version. I was able to test the camera on machines running VISTA X32 and X64, Windows 7 RC1 x32 and Windows 7 RTM x32 and x64. In every case the software reached out and downloaded a more recent version of the software than what was available on the CD. The download was quick and the software installed not only current drivers, but also the LifeCam Dashboard - a tool for taking snapshots and recording video without requiring the use of third party application.
The picture shown above is actually a screen capture taken while the Dashboard was rendering video. Even so, the picture is bright, clear and shows not artifacts, ghosting or blurring. This was taken minutes after plugging in the camera before any manual tweaking or adjusting - a great start right out of the box. In spite of great default settings , the Dashboard allows for fine tuning nearly any video setting you could desire. My initial testing yield such good results across a range of environments that I decided to leave things alone for normal operation.
The basic settings screen allows for setting both the snap shot and video resolutions. The native CCD resolution is 640 x 480 - but snap shots can be digitally enhanced to provide up to 1.3 MP equivalent. Also worth noting is that Live Messenger seems to be limited to 320x240 resolution at roughly 10-12 fps, and the Pan and Zoom features only work when the resolution is below the native resolution of 640 x 480.
The Video Processing Panel allows for pretty granular control over how the video is handled and the inclusion of the Powerline frequency setting is a nice touch - it reduces or removes the flickering that is apparent if you have video screens included in what the web cam is capturing.
The Pan, Zoom and Tilt functions are accessible from the main Configuration screen so I'm not sure they were repeated here, but the Low Light Compensation and Exposure on would expect to have to adjust occasionally.
The Microsoft LifeCam VX 5500 Dashboard also allows for real-time video effects, while this isn't particularly important for my typical usage, the feature has become de rigueur for mid-priced webcams and its inclusion is therefore expected.
So, how important will that web-call / one-touch button be in setting this webcam apart? We'll find out as we dig deeper into this webcam and it's use.