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Closer Look: LifeCam Cinema
When the Microsoft LifeCam Cinema arrived at my door, I was actually very surprised by the size. It was tiny! All the pictures I had seen had made me think it was much larger than it actually is. All that really means is that it is even more impressive that the LifeCam Cinema can provide widescreen 720p HD video. The LifeCam Cinema easily fits in the palm of my hand. It arrived in the familiar red packaging that accompanies almost any Microsoft peripheral.
Inside the package of the LifeCam Cinema was a user manual and the installation CD that includes the Microsoft LifeCam 3.0 program. The cable for the LifeCam Cinema is decently long, though I would have liked to see it be a little bit longer. The cable is contained by an innovative clip that is much easier to use, and works a lot better, than the normal twist-tie that most peripherals come with. I played around with the clip for a little while, but didn't end up using it at all because the cord is just barely long enough to reach from the top of my TV to my HTPC.
The LifeCam Cinema has a rubber base that is very flexible. I was kind of worried when I first took the H5D-00001 out of the box that the base wouldn't work any better than the much cheaper webcams I was used to. I was pleasantly surprised, however, when the flexible, rubber base provided great support for the camera on almost any surface. The LifeCam Cinema fits onto the top of both my monitor and my television with ease. It also stands upright on the desk just as well. That little rubber based impressed me right from the start, even before I installed the webcam to check out picture quality.
The Microsoft LifeCam Cinema body swivels on the base from left to right a full 360 degrees, though I haven't found myself needing that kind of flexibility. The head also moves up and down with about a 90 degree range of motion. The range is quite excellent compared to other personal webcams. Many that I have used only move up and down, and refrain completely from allowing the user a side to side motion. Combine that motion with the fact that the LifeCam Cinema captures in widescreen and you have a winning combination.
There are a few webcams on the market today that offer a widescreen view. This is typically becoming more normal as most television and computer screens are widescreen. The field of view offered by a widescreen picture captures so much more than the alternative. Another major move in almost every aspect of video production now is the move to HD. Microsoft is the first to offer a low-cost webcam with both widescreen and HD capability. The LifeCam Cinema can produce video with a resolution up to 720p. While this is a great move for High Definition recorded video, most programs for video chat over the web don't offer the option to stream in High Definition. For now, this isn't a major setback, as a very top of the line computer is required on both ends, with a high speed internet connection, to achieve any sort of meaningful HD video chat experience. With the release of the LifeCam Cinema, however, I'm positive we are very close to an HD revolution in video chat as well.