|FaceVsion TouchCam-N1 HD 720p WebCam|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: WebCam | Camera|
|Written by Joey Peng|
|Tuesday, 25 May 2010|
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FaceVsion Final Thoughts
Accessories built for Skype are in general very interesting because they are expensive and many of them are useless without Skype. The FV TouchCam-N1 happens to be the second Skype-certified item I have used, the first one being a Polycom Communicator (essentially speaker + mic) which is $120. How well did it work with Skype? Very. The same goes with the FV TouchCam-N1. It works great with Skype, and costs about $120. I have no doubts that this product would be popular for enterprise level video conferencing, but for personal use I find these products, which are all specifically built for Skype, just simply lack in value.
One thing in question is the value of having the H.264 encoder built-int. Encoding video is CPU intensive, and for weak netbooks HD video encoding may cause lag and introduce stutters. Thanks to the encoder the CPU has to do very little work, and your computer would run better. If the encoder is what you want then there is no competition, just buy the webcam and start your HD video chat. However the encoder increases the cost for producing the webcam, meaning other areas have to be weaker. The similarly priced Logitech Quickcam Orbit and the $60 Microsoft LifeCam Cinema 720p can both reach 30 FPS. They come with software (requires installation) and have a wider range of support for chat programs. The Logitech Orbit in particular has a max resolution of up to 1600 x 1200 pixels for taking snapshots. I like the unique (non-spherical) design of the FV TouchCam-N1, the build is excellent, and performance using Skype is impressive, but at $120 and limited software capabilities the FV TouchCam lacks a little something to put itself as a winner. Even if the H.264 encoder put it ahead of other webcams, it's only a marginal lead in performance.
The FaceVsion TouchCam-N1's performs great with Skype. There's not much that comes in the box but the small webcam sure packs a punch. The people at FaceVsion made the TouchCam-N1 work perfectly with Skype and everything is automated. If your company needs a webcam for each employee then the plug-and-play TouchCam-N1 will save a lot of money for you on tech support and setup. The resulting 720p video is clear and movement is fluid. Unfortunately it needs an Internet connection >1.2Mb/s. Even then it maxes out at 22FPS, not low at all, but still beat by many HD webcams that are cheaper. The biggest advantage for the FV TouchCam-N1 is its built-in H.264 encoder, which entirely removes the strain on your CPU. Running HD video chat on Skype took merely 6% CPU load. This is great if your multitasking as your computer won't lag and become unresponsive, and it will also help provide smoother video streaming.
As a solution for enterprise level video conferencing, the design avoids the cliché shapes and figures of standard webcams and takes on a unique form. The design is beautiful and practical. Unfortunately FaceVsion couldn't figure out an elegant solution for free-form angle rotation. The FV TouchCam has a compact design and can be placed on a the desk or rested and clipped onto your monitor. Numerous rubber grips help prevent slipping and sliding. When rested on a monitor you see only the thin rectangular head, very unobtrusive compared to the spherical webcams that stand up about 10 centimetres above the monitor.
The construction is well done, and pivoting points that should be tight are tight. It was able to be clipped upside down on a thick chair handle without any indication that it would fall. All parts inside seem tightly screwed as shaking it makes no sounds. The FV TouchCam-N1 is sturdy and will heavy daily usage just fine.
The only part I find the FV TouchCam lacking is in functionality. It's hard to get over the fact that this awesome webcam's can only be used properly with Skype. The lack of any sort of software is also a surprise. Other competitors often supply software that allows tuning and adjusting settings. It's great that most of this is automated but the built-in microphone had some problems, and the only adjustments I had to my disposal was muting and un-muting. Also, a free rotating camera is more of a standard now than it is a choice, and I was surprised to find the FV TouchCam supporting only vertical adjustments.
In the end I find the FV TouchCam pricing a little too expensive. Priced at $120 I'm looking for something fancy. The design, the built-in H.264 encoder, and the performance (using Skype) gets the TouchCam-N1 fairly close, but the lack of certain features bring down the value. Even the raw performance seems to lose-out to a few $60 HD webcams that also support 720p video up to 30FPS.
Overall the webcam can be summed up in one sentence: the FaceVsion TouchCam-N1 offers outstanding performance and several features that no competitor can compete with; but then completely flops in other areas.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The faceVsion TouchCam-N1 is only Skype-certified webcam that can transmit streaming 720p HD video over the Internet. Other "HD" webcams from Microsoft & Logitech can record 720p video to the hard drive or within a local network, but they cannpt stream it over the Internet. Skype and faceVsion partnered to make this feature possible, and that's what separates this particular camera from others. If the N1 was in the same class of webcams as Microsoft or Logitech, it would be expensive at $119. However, it's the hardware H.264 video encoder chip and the CODEC that faceVsion developed that account for the added price.
+ 720p HD webcam
- Does not come with any type of software
Final Score: 8.45 out of 10.