If you have friends and family that live far away a web cam can help with keeping in contact. We bought our first web cam from ebay for £2. It was a VGA unbranded camera from China. The picture quality was rubbish and so we decided to get a better camera.
HP have 3 web cams; deluxe, premium autofocus and elite autofocus. This review looks at the premium autofocus web cam which at £31 is the middle range out of all three. This was bought at Tesco's but it is available in most good electronic stores as well from hp directly. It was being discontinued at Tesco's and so I got it for £15. Web cams are rather expensive, especially if you want to get a good quality one and this one is a mid range web cam. Most of the new laptops come with a web cam and so I am not really sure if removable web cam such as this is really in demand and consequently I don't think there is a huge selection is the market.
The web cam is black with a clip so that it fits on top of the computer monitor or laptop screen. But it also has a silver colouring on the top and bottom of the web cam which distinguishes it from the deluxe web cam. There are 3 buttons on top of the camera that are used when you want to video the conversation, take a picture and microphone control. The clip is really good as I found with the last web cam when I tried to move the position of the camera it would fall off rather than move. There is an adjustable neck to the camera so that the position of the camera is quite easy to adjust.
If you take still images then the resolution is 12 megapixel which is right given that it is a mid range camera and the video is a 2 megapixels. There is an inbuilt microphone which I think is really good as the sound quality has been good and I haven't had any problems with the sound. The video quality is equally just as good as the images are sharp and clear. Remember that it is the person you are calling that sees what the quality of the image and sound is of the camera but you also see your own image if you are using skype.
The only problem I have with the web camera is that unfortunately no matter how much I try to adjust it I can't increase the field of vision and this means that only two people can fit into the video image at a time. This is disappointing as it would be better if everyone (5 of us) could be seen at the same time. This is a major disadvantage for me but it is something that I can live with.
The focus is automatic and it is NOT compatible with the mac operating system. It comes with a CD that the driver can be installed from. The picture resolution for videos is 1600 by 1200 pixels. It also comes with a high speed USB connecter.
This is a mid range web cam that is affordable and easy to use. It is ideal for desktop computers as well as laptops as it is relatively compact and is adjustable. The field of view is rather restricted so it is possibly better for when one person wants to contact their friends and family. By this I mean it is good for those at University rather than one large family contacting someone else.