|Microsoft LifeCam Cinema 720p HD-Webcam|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: WebCam | Camera|
|Written by Hank Tolman|
|Tuesday, 19 January 2010|
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LifeCam Cinema Final Thoughts
Overall, the little Microsoft LifeCam Cinema H5D-00001 was enough to impress me a lot. The recorded video quality at 720p was amazing. The color quality is definitely an improvement over older webcams, and where it isn't exact, you can always adjust the settings. I found that the best resolution for quality, clarity, and frame rates, was at 640x360. This provides a widescreen view while still maintaining smooth movements and quality that can't be found at the High Definition resolution of 720p.
I was quite impressed as well with the audio recording capability of the LifeCam Cinema. While using the Philips SPC710NC I was forced to use a secondary mic because the one built into the webcam couldn't clearly pick up many sounds. The LifeCam Cinema microphone picks up everything down to the lowest sounds and even uses noise cancellation technology to get rid of background noise. Unfortunately, you will suffer from a very quiet high pitch tone due to the noise cancellation.
The size of the LifeCam Cinema makes it ideal for portability, as does the flexible rubber bottom piece that allows it to easily sit anywhere or attach to any screen. Used as a portable device, you should have no problem with the length of the cord. The handy cable organizer attached to the cord works very well. However, for in home use, you may find that you need a hub or an extension for the USB cable. It is decently long, but not quite long enough. I believe that the LifeCam Cinema will open the way for a new generation of webcams that can provide widescreen, High Definition video for use in a variety of situations. Very soon we will be video chatting from our living rooms in HD with our family and friends.
Microsoft H5D-00001 Conclusion
The Microsoft LifeCam Cinema H5D-00001 far outperformed my expectations of it, especially after seeing how small it is. The camera lens is able to pick out small details, recognize faces, autofocus, and capture 720p High Definition video at an amazing 30 frames per second. Even filming in low light situations can't stop the LifeCam Cinema from performing beautifully. The only issues I found with the performance of the LifeCam Cinema was its tendency to wash out the background if there was too much light and the high pitched tone that is emitted when the microphone uses its noise cancellation technology. The wash out can be fixed by adjusting the settings, however, and the high pitch tone can be virtually done away with by avoiding background noises such as loud fans or power supplies.
The LifeCam Cinema was quite a bit smaller than I had imagined it to be. Even so, it looks very cool, with its smooth metal barrel design. It looks a lot like a actual movie camera, in a way, but on a much smaller scale. The LifeCam Cinema's appearance is conducive to its performance. Even as small as it is, it just looks like it should provide top notch video and audio. Coming in a large box may hurt the LifeCam Cinema on a retail shelf, where the size of the camera compared to the box is so small. Maybe a smaller, completely plastic packaging would show off the LifeCam Cinema better. Even so, it doesn't look like your typical webcam, which is good, because it doesn't perform like one either.
Even as small as it is, the LifeCam Cinema is build very sturdily. The barrel casing enclosing the lens and camera components is durable and tough. The metal mesh covering of the microphone looks like it could withstand a beating and come out ahead. I think the LifeCam Cinema could survive the drops and dings that portability might bring with it, even without a carry bag or case that is notably absent. The only concern would be scratching the lens, which is quite possible with no lens cover. Even the rubber base of the LifeCam Cinema is strong and durable. It's not flimsy and thin, as I would have guessed when opening, but is instead very sturdy, enabling it to hold the camera in place wherever you see fit to put it.
The LifeCam Cinema H5D-00001 offers the most functionality in its class for the time being. With 720p High Definition picture and a widescreen view, it makes for the most versatile webcam out there. The picture clarity and quality live up to the Microsoft hardware reputation. I even enjoyed the LifeCam 3.0 software, surprisingly enough. It's simplicity really amazed me. The main window only has three buttons, for the three functions of the webcam, video capture, still image capture, and audio capture. It also offered plenty of fun effects that take advantage of the LifeCam Cinema's features.
As of March 2010 the Microsoft LifeCam Cinema HD-webcam, model H5D-0001, can be purchased from NewEgg for $69.99. Other online retailers also stock the LifeCam Cinema, so make sure to compare prices before making a purchase. A webcam that offers High Definition video and widescreen formats is hard to find for such a reasonable price. Even my old Philips SPC710NC, which was valiantly destroyed by the superior performance of the LifeCam Cinema costs $30. I would lay down the extra cash in a second for such a top-notch product. Even faster if I were an avid youTube user or if I video blogged much. The quality of this camera is worth much more than the price being asked for it.
If you have ever wanted to create your own youTube channel, post video commentary to your blog, or add personal videos to a website, this camera is perfect for you. The price and performance has set a new bar. Even if you just love to video chat with friends and family and therefore, the High Definition function of the camera is somewhat mitigated, the widescreen quality and clarity offered by the LifeCam Cinema is still enough to warrant it's purchase. And I have a feeling that in the near future, more and more software will released taking advantage of High Definition video chat.
+ 720p High Definition Capture
- Limited Video Chat HD Use due to Software Restrictions
Final Score: 9.3 out of 10.
Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award
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