|Microsoft LifeCam Cinema 720p HD-Webcam|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: WebCam | Camera|
|Written by Hank Tolman|
|Tuesday, 19 January 2010|
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Webcam Testing and Results
Considering the fact that I couldn't pick up my other webcam through the Microsoft LifeCam 3.0 software, I had to use some other software items to get conclusive results. I ended up using Windows Live Messenger, Skype 4.1, and Google Video Chat. The two webcams I used were the LifeCam Cinema, of course, and the Philips SPC710NC webcam. The LifeCam Cinema costs $57.99 at Newegg.com and the Philips runs about $30, but it is pretty old and difficult to find.I will explain the results of each of my tests, but I have only included two pictures showing the differences between the cameras. I did this on purpose. Although the differences that I will detail were very clear, when I tried to capture screenshots of them put them together for this review, I noticed a distinct lack of clarity on the edited screenshots. I deliberated and finally decided that I would not include the pictures as they might construe a different effect than what is really offered by the LifeCam Cinema. In many cases, the pictures looked nearly equal as I looked at the screenshots, when side by side on the screen during live capture, the LifeCam Cinema clearly provided superior quality.
I started off the testing by making quite a few calls through each of the video chat programs listed above to various friends and family. During the call I would switch from the LifeCam Cinema to the Philips SPC710NC and ask them to detail the difference in picture quality. I started with Windows Live Messenger, which surprised me by being the most difficult to use, in my opinion. During the call, at a resolution of 320x240 for both cameras, everyone I talked to was quite surprised by the wide field of view on the LifeCam Cinema compared to the Philips webcam. When I started with the LifeCam Cinema, no one really noticed that they were seeing much more of me and the room, but they definitely commented when I switched cameras. Overall, the lighting was better while using the LifeCam Cinema, as was the picture quality and detail.
As I moved on to the other two video chat programs, Skype 1.4 and Google Video Chat, I found the same consistencies in the performance of the LifeCam Cinema over the Philips Camera. Every person that I talked to was amazed at the difference in picture quality and the level of detail. The most exciting factor for everyone was, however, the increased field of view. Skype offered me the highest resolution, letting me go up to 640x480, but it took some tweaking. I found a third party app for skype as well that would let me bump up to 720p, but just as I had suspected, it was a very unpleasant experience for the person on the other end of the call. The frame rates were well below 30 FPS, probably somewhere around 5. But at 640x480, they were very good.
So, since Skype offer the best chance and showing the true power of the LifeCam Cinema, I took the screenshots below from that. I'm sure without saying anything you can tell which is the LifeCam Cinema, if only from the wider field of view. Also, these pictures were both taken with no lights on in the room. The only light coming into the room was from the window to my left, which had the blinds pulled halfway shut. As you can see, the LifeCam Cinema does a much better job of filling the room with light and even lighting my face and other features in the room. If you look at the I Love Lucy calender hanging on the wall behind me, not only will you learn something about my wife, but you can see that the detail is much clearer in the picture with the LifeCam Cinema.
Looking at that back wall you can also see that the colors are kept much more natural by the LifeCam Cinema. The wall is white, but the Philips webcam almost makes it seem blue. As you can see just above desk behind me, the LifeCam Cinema really takes advantage of all the extra light, as I mentioned earlier. It really washes out some of the features behind me because of where the outside light was hitting.
As far as the High Definition function goes, it really performed great when I was recording video using the LifeCam 3.0 software. However, even though my computer meets the minimum requirements of the LifeCam Cinema, High Definition video calls were certainly not feasible. I have to blame my internet connection in part for that, as well as my less-than-enthusiast speed computer. Still being able to record videos for youTube, blogs, or websites in High Definition and widescreen without breaking your wallet is an excellent achievement for the tiny LifeCam Cinema.