These days laptops have most things built in, such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and of course, the good old fashioned web-cam. But, there are some laptops out there, and many desk tops as well, that don't have a web cam, so, it's then a matter of going out and getting the right web-cam for what you need it for.
What I mean by that is that there are so many 'portable' webcams out there, some small enough for an spy from MFI would be proud of, with others being as big as the laptop itself. So choosing a webcam is not as easy at it sounds. Which happened to me a while back when I went on the hunt for a webcam to use with a PC that I got my hands on that did not have a webcam built in.
Whilst searching around I had a few decisions to make, such as how good I wanted the picture and sound, plus, how discreet I wanted the body of the webcam to be.
I decided that, as I would be using the PC in question mainly indoors, in one place most of the time, I didn't mind how big the webcam should be, with-in reason. So a tiny little lens wasn't my first option.
It was then that I spotted a tennis ball on the shelf, sitting in with several webcams, which I thought a little strange. I mean, why put a tennis ball in with the webcams?. Then, on closer inspection, noticing that this tennis ball actually had a little eyeball looking at me, which turned out to be a lens. In fact, this tennis ball turned out to be a webcam, a tennis ball webcam, if you will.
A tennis ball webcam...??? What on earth is a tennis ball webcam..?
Well, it's not actually a tennis ball, but it is a webcam, and it looks a bit like a tennis ball. It is in fact called the Kinobo 5MP Webcam with built in microphone.
* Well, let's have a quick look at it then....
There you go, I've looked and it's not that horrid to look at. Hang on, you want me to describe what it looks like? Right. All you had to do was ask.
So let me describe to you what this webcam looks like...
It is shaped in a ball sort of manner, being about 80mm high and about 60mm in diameter, although the stand does add a bit to the height.
The tennis ball shape sort of resembles the eye from one of a Doctor Who's enemies, that's because it has a single camera lens in the centre of the ball shape, which glistens as it looks at you.
Directly underneath this eye, or lens, is a scattering of little holes, which hide the built in microphone very nicely indeed. Then, on the top of the ball, there is a little slider section that, when slid forwards, covers the lens so that any peeping toms can't secretly watch you making your bed... or worse... if you slide little section backwards it reveals the lens so you can then let people watch you do what ever you're doing in the privacy of your own home.
Finally, on the ball section of the webcam, just to the side of the lens, there is a dial that seems to be embedded into the body work. This dial is in fact the focus adjustment dial which, when slow turned, either way, will change the focus of what ever the lens is looking at.
And that's the main section of the webcam.
So what about the stand...
This is the ingenious part of it as the stand is more of a grip than a stand. What I mean by that is that the webcam ball has a little 'ball-joint' on the bottom which sits inside what looks like a couple of triangles that bend about better than Beckem.
* As for attaching it to your PC screen...
This is simply done by popping the webcam onto the top of the screen, then adjusting the flexible 'grip' section of the stand in order for the webcam to stay as firm as possible, without wobbling about when you move.
This 'grip' stand can be adjusted in many ways so as to make the best fit.
* What about connecting it up to your PC...
You will need to have a spare USB port and also a microphone input socket as this is needed for the inbuilt microphone. If you're USB port and microphone socket are close to each other then you're laughing. If not, then you'll have to invest in an extension lead for the microphone socket...(a couple of quid at the most).
* Is that it then for connecting..?
Pretty much really. Once you've plugged the USB into the port your system should automatically find the drivers so that you should be up and running in a matter of minutes.
You do need to have a few certain specs on your system to run this, such as...
Windows XP and above... ( I've not tried it on Windows 8 as yet but it works well on windows 7)
* What about the picture and sound..?
I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the picture and sound that came from this webcam as, to be honest, I wasn't expecting it to be that good, even if it boasts 5MP.
Although I do have say that the quality of this webcam does change depending on what software I am using with the camera. The best quality I got out of this camera was when I used it with Roxio software. This gave me stream-less images which managed to keep up with most of my movements, even on the odd occasion that I moved fast, (which doesn't happen often).
As for the audio. Well, the microphone on this picks up the slightest of sounds, which is great, but can also be a bit of a nuisance if you're recording something and the neighbours dog breaks wind in the back garden.
* What do I think then..?
It is one of those things that looks a little on the 'silly' side, resembling a one eyed tennis ball with a tail and a flexible set of legs, but it works like a charm. Plus, when it's on top of the screen it looks the part as well, with it's mainly black ball casing having a few dashes of silver on the front which makes it look more 'classier' than it actually is.
The picture and sound quality are good enough to keep you happy if you're talking to someone on-line, using such things as Skype, (other 'apps' are available), or even the more 'professional' conference calls, at a push. Or, even if you're one of those people who just like to look at yourself on screen.
The 'grip' bends about all over the show, which gives me the capability to get this to grip onto almost anything that I attach it to. The edges of the 'grip' have a rubbery/rough texture which helps it do a cracking job in holding onto the top of the screen without making any marks on it at all, being soft and strong... but not very very long, as in that toilet roll saying....
Speaking of long, the wires are long enough, almost, although a laptop I have used this on did have the microphone socket on the other side to the USB port, so I had to get an extension lead for the socket. This was a small delay in the set up on that laptop but the lead cost next to nothing and it know makes the lead long enough to reach around the laptop so that the webcam picks up both sound and pictures.
I like the way that the slider covers the lens so easily, without any technical mumbo jumbo that could go wrong, and usually does go wrong. But this slider is so 'none- technical it's genius.
Then there's the focus dial, which again is none-technical so there's no danger of anything electrical going wrong, as it usually does after the warranty runs out. The focus is simple to use, turning the dial slowly until your face on the screen looks in focus, (so don't be setting the focus whilst too drunk...)
You do have to remember that there is no lighting system of any kind, and the camera doesn't like to 'collect' as much light as it can, so you do have to make sure that there is plenty of light in the room when you're on the webcam, other wise you're going to look like one of those 'strange' men that lurk in the shadows watching people though your binoculars.
* So how much does this webcam cost then..?
This ball of a webcam sells for no more than £20. If I remember correctly, I think I managed to get mine from amazon for just under £15, but as I search on line these days, (due to the threat of forcing certain companies to pay their taxes) the prices do seem to be rising slowly.
* Is it worth the money..?
Difficult one here.
It is a nice little camera that picks up movement with ease and can pick up a gnats kneecap cracking at a thousand paces without too much trouble. So on them grounds I'd say yes, it's well worth the money spent.
But if you're after a small, more discreet webcam that will sit on your PC without looking like a burnt tennis ball, then this one may not be the one for you.
Over all, for the money to quality ratio this one is worth taking a serious look into as it will give a clear picture and sound without breaking the bank.
I recently bought this USB webcam from Amazon for £10 with free delivery! As my laptop already has an integrated webcam I have never had the need to purchase a standalone unit until recently when my younger brother started using Skype as an easy method to keep in touch with friends and family when he's away from home, as he doesn't understand much about extra components (USB devices) I decided to help him out...
(Pricing & Appearance)
In terms of pricing this camera was right on budget costing a penny short of £10 it seemed like a bargain screaming out and despite not being familiar with the brand "Kinobo" I went ahead with my purchase from Amazon.
The unit has a modern looking black and silver finish, and is well designed so it can easily clip over the top of your flatscreen monitor or similar flat-edged object.
(Ordering & Delivery)
The item arrived the following day after purchase, can not fault delivery times in the slightest!
(Functions & Ease of use)
One thing I really love about USB devices today is how hassle-free the process actually is in terms of adding new devices to a system. The device installs itself without the need of any additional drivers in Microsoft Windows XP/Vista & Windows 7. Not sure whether the device would self configure with previous versions however drivers can easily be obtained online or similar imaging drivers may be suitable.
Once installed the camera is available to use just like your keyboard or mouse and is compatible with programs like Windows Live Messenger (MSN) , Windows Movie Maker & pretty much any other imaging software package.
(Quality of Image & Sound)
The unit is a 5 Mega-Pixel device which produces a fairly crisp and high quality picture in well lit area's, image quality is reduced quite significantly in low light conditions.
Recording of video is pretty constant with only the occasional freeze in frame or loss of picture.
The audio however is a bit of a downfall, you can not hear voice very clearly unless you are speaking right in to the camera so if its right on the top of a laptop or notebook then there isn't much of an issue however if its on a desktop system with say the distance of a desk inbetween then the volume is reduced so you would find yourself shouting at the camera so the receiver could hear without imperfections.
Music and other louder noises seem to distort unless played at a low volume.
Overall the camera isn't a bad piece of kit, with quite a modern looking design, delivered for under £10, easy to install and compatible with the high majority of home and work PC's. The image quality is good in reflection of the price however browny points are too be lost for the sound as I would recommend an additional MIC for Skype or Messenger conversations.
Thanks For Reading!
I needed a webcam for use at university, to help me stay in touch with everyone back home. Skype and MSN have become the new way to phone our friends and relatives. They're free, easy to set up and not only can you call that person, but see them as well. HUGE benefits for long-distance relationships and those of us who know people living in faraway places!
So I decided to purchase a cheap external webcam for use with my laptop. I purchased mine in October 2010 from www.amazon.co.uk and paid a mere £10! Bargain! I was sceptical about the brand name, Kinobo, having never heard of it, but the great reviews settled my mind. Here's my review:
I bought mine off Amazon, and they sent it to me with no box like I would have expected. The company do say that they try to reduce the amount of packaging used to save both costs and damage to the environment. It arrived in good condition, and worked perfectly, so I couldn't dispute it.
Might have a bit of an issue if I ever wanted to sell it in the future: 4/5
The webcam is compatible with: Windows XP, Windows Vista 32-bit, Windows Vista 64-bit and Windows 7.
The webcam does not come with a CD, which, in my opinion, makes installation a lot easier. If you are worried about installation and the time it takes to set up, don't be! All you need to do is take the webcam out of its packaging and plug the USB cable into your computer. Your system may take a bit of time to find the software, but once it has been recognised you are ready to use your webcam. It will work straight away with Skype and MSN.
Really simple, 5/5
The webcam is quite small, but let me assure you that it does not affect its performance. It will store away nicely in your laptop bag without damaging it. The webcam is lightweight to prevent it damaging your computer screens, but it is weighty enough to rest on the top of your laptop and remain steady. The rubber gives it grip to stop it sliding around! The webcam can become quite wobbly if you do not use it on a steady surface however, and therefore the picture will become shaky. The webcam's clip can be bent to shape or straightened out depending on which medium you choose to use it on. The ball itself can be moved from side to side, up and down, very easily to make sure the picture is straight.
The webcam looks exactly like it does in the picture - black with silver details. In my opinion, this makes it look quite sophisticated and it will also match with a lot of people's computers!
Nothing bad to say about the design, 5/5
The lens comes with a cover that can be opened and closed with your finger. This helps protect it from dust and damage, just like a real camera! Just remember to push it up before you ring someone, because they will not be able to see you!
The webcam does not need focusing, so it is really easy to use. This is a 5-mega-pixel webcam, which is relatively more than other webcams on the market. Furthermore, for the price you pay, the picture quality is excellent! The image is clear enough for your friends to view you in all your glory, but not clear enough to show detailed images. For what it is used for though, it's really not bad!
The webcam comes with an inbuilt microphone, so the sound quality is very good. I mainly use it for Skype and never had a problem. I usually sit about a metre from the device and it picks up my voice well. There would be no need to use any alternative software (e.g. headset).
I have used the webcam on my desktop computer as well as my laptop and found that the lead can be quite stretched. I would be worried about it falling off and damaging the device. A longer lead would have worked much better.
I have never seen my webcam in main computer stores such as PC World or Curry's. I recommend looking online. The cheapest places I have found the webcam in are:
Ebay £9.99 + £1.99 P&P
I am very happy with my purchase and would thoroughly recommend you purchase it if you are looking for a cheap webcam with good picture and sound quality. My only negatives are: the packaging my product arrived in and the length of the webcam lead.
I give this webcam: 4.5/5
Back in December one of my closest friends moved to Australia and I realised that Skype was about to become a part of our relationship. I realised I was going to need a webcam and fast but based on previous experiences (years ago) I was a bit cynical about the performance and ease of use of such things. I am a bit of a technophobe and needed something as simple as possible to buy and use pretty much out of the box.
It was with this in mind that I started doing a bit of research and reading of reviews on Amazon. I was initially surprised at how cheap these things are nowadays, there were an abundance of products under or around the £10 mark. This Kinobo USB webcam seemed to tick all the boxes and was priced at £10.99 - the reviews also commented on the fact it could be pretty much used within seconds of unpacking and had no associated software.
The item when it came was exactly as described. The small camera is globe shaped and has flexible tripod-esque legs which can be manipulated pretty much any way you like to enable it to perch quite securely on your laptop edge. It has a manual focus and a built in microphone so it is pretty much a simple little device with everything you need to skype away to your heart's content.
As promised, I was able to get this working without installing any drivers or software, the USB connection meant that my laptop simply identified it as a USB device and I was immediately able to open the associated window and view the image stream. Amazingly simple!
In practice, I was also impressed with the 'realtime' abilities of this camera. Speaking to my friend in Australia it is almost a perfectly in time image that she (and I) can see, so much better than the old versions from years ago which used to judder and freeze and be generally quite poor indeed.
For just over a tenner I really do think this is an excellent bit of kit, especially if you are a technophobe like me. It arrives in a box with just the camera, lead and a small set of simple instructions and within minutes you can have it set up and working. I was cynical about it really being this good and this easy but it really was and I would recommend it to anyone.
Having checked back to the spec, it apparently needs no drivers only if you are using Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7 so do bear this in mind if you consider buying.
Kinobo USB Webcam
Usually I wouldn't have bothered with a webcam as I was quite happy keeping in touch with friends by either type-talk or by use of a microphone and speakers. I did not feel the need to have picture as well as I already knew what my friends looked like (and some were too scary looking for a webcam!!). Recently, though, my friend had moved abroad and had had a little baby and although pictures sent to me were lovely, I longed to see the baby 'in action' so to speak, so I went and bought this webcam from Amazon for just under £10.
Not knowing much about webcams, I was surprised at the size of it when it arrived through the post. It is tiny! Saying that, though, the size is perfect to clip onto laptops (that is if it wants to stay put!).
Setting the webcam up is simple enough. It has one lead on the back which splits into two; one going to the microphone socket and the other to the USB port. The lead is not very long and this may prove difficult on PC's, though for average laptops this is a fine length. The webcam works on Vista, Windows XP and Windows 7 and works as soon as you plug it in - I did not need to do anything technical at all.
The image the webcam gives is pretty average. It is not overly sharp though is not blurry beyond recognition. It is certainly a picture you can work with and at the price paid, I am not complaining. Sound quality on the other hand is something to be desired. Quite often those I have spoken to via this device have not been able to hear me properly when using its built in microphone
Overall, for just under £10 this webcam is decent enough though the built-in-microphone is certainly a downside.
My laptop unfortunately lacks a built-in webcam, and while this was of no concern to me at all when I lived at home, once I moved out I suddenly really wanted one, so that I could see my family whilst talking to them.
Amazon came up with this: priced very reasonably at £9.99, it is cheaper than most similar-looking webcams, and clips onto pretty much anything. Not only that, but the rubber and wire combination means it also stays put. It can be bent around a laptop screen, a desktop monitor and also flattened so it will stand on a desk.
It is very easy to set up, all you have to do is plug it in via USB and mic in jack, and it works (I run Vista, can't comment on how it works on XP or 7).
The 5MP resolution is plenty, although depending on your internet speed this may or may not be what the other person sees.
The lens is also protected by a useful little cover, which means it doesn't get scratched when you're not actually using the webcam.
There are two slightly negative points. The first is that unlike the reviewer below, the lead which came with my webcam was so short that I had to buy a USB extension so that the mic input fit into the front of my laptop. This was no big deal, but a slight extra expense (about £2 from Amazon marketplace).
The second slight negative is the microphone, which consistently makes me sound very quiet to the person on the other end of Skype. This is not a huge problem for me, as my laptop does have a built-in microphone, but it is worth bearing in mind if this is not the case for you.
Overall this webcam is very good value for money if using it as a webcam, but the microphone is not very reliable.
I bought the Kinobo USB Webcam about a year ago as I am a university student and live away from home. As my laptop had no built-in webcam, I wanted to buy a relatively cheap but decent quality webcam so that I could see my family over the internet.
The first webcam I came across on Amazon, that was in my price budget, was the Kinobo USB Webcam. As there were already lots of pictures on Amazon I was well in the knowledge of how it would fit on to my laptop and the rough size of it as well as how it would look on my laptop, I can be quite picky with appearance sometimes. After being happy with all of this I decided to make my first ever webcam purchase.
The Webcam arrived within a couple of days boxed. Inside was the webcam and an instruction manual but no compact disc drivers as one only needs to plug it in straight in to any usb port on the desktop or laptop. I always use Windows Live Messenger to talk to my family and this software had no trouble in locating and working with my new webcam.
As this webcam was purchased for under £10.00 I did not expect a great deal of quality, I did not particularly need a great deal of quality as long as my family were able to distinguish the difference between my girlfriend and I! However the picture quality as fantastic and there wasn't even any sign of lag, as I had already seen many webcams do.
The microphone quality is not as good as the picture and I found that I was often having to repeat myself to my family and friends so that they could understand what it was that I was saying. This, however, is okay for me as I am able to touch type at a good speed and so often found myself doing this anyway.
The webcam itself clips over the top of ones FLAT SCREEN laptop or desktop monitor. Sometimes it can be quite annoying as it does fall off, especially when moving around with the laptop, however it is very simple to attach again.
The webcam is also able to take snapshot pictures and even record short films. I have not used the video recording function as it is not necessary for me however the snapshot pictures come out in good quality, this would be good for someone who likes to change their display pictures often.
The only problem is that the rubberised plastic clip on part of the webcam stand broke when it fell off of my laptop stand and got stood on and unless I hold it I can no longer use it.
Having used Skype perfectly happily for a while without a webcam, my friends and family started nagging me to get one so that the visual side of our conversations wouldn't be so one-sided! My sisters threatening to turn their webcams off during our chats if I didn't haul my self out of the dark ages was the last straw- I caved in and headed over to Amazon to buy one.
I picked out this Kinobo webcam for three reasons- firstly, at £9.99, it certainly wouldn't break the bank; secondly, it could be clipped onto a laptop; thirdly, it had an overall rating of 4 stars on Amazon, and had received many positive reviews. Buying a cheap item from a brand you've never heard of before can be a risky business, but the overall consensus from the other customers put my mind at rest.
On receiving the webcam, I was surprised at its small size- it's about the size of a salad tomato, with a rubbery stand on the bottom. The stand has wires under its rubber surface, so you can bend it to clip onto to top of a desktop or a laptop. It stays in place quite well on my laptop- although it doesn't clip particularly stably onto such a thin screen, its rubbery surface has a good deal of grip, and this stops it from falling off (although when the laptop's on my lap, the webcam wobbles precariously when I laugh!). The clip can also be straightened out for use on flat surfaces; the rubber grip ensures that it stays in place even when it's not bent around something. The 1.5m lead coming out of the back of the webcam splits into two parts near the bottom- one part plugs into the USB port of your computer, the other into the microphone socket. The length of the lead is more than ample for use on a laptop, and would probably be fine for a desktop too, providing the monitor isn't too far away from the computer.
The webcam can be fully rotated in its socket, and can also tilt from side to side, so it's easy to adjust its angle. The 'eye' of the webcam has a shutter which is operated by a slide just above it- push it up to reveal the lens, and down to cover it. This is useful for keeping the lens protected when it's not in use.
Getting started with this webcam was easy- I just plugged it in and it was ready to use, without the need to download any software (it works with Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7). When I saw the image it produced on Skype, I was pleased; while it wasn't razor sharp, it was smooth and clear. Actually, the lack of perfect focus was quite nice- it gave me a gently airbrushed look that was much more flattering than seeing myself in minute detail! I've had positive feedback from the people on the other end too- they've all said that the picture quality is fine. The only problem I've had when using this webcam is the microphone. When I've plugged it in and started speaking, the feedback I've had is that it's not very clear. People couldn't hear me well, despite me speaking fairly close to the webcam. This was a disappointment- I'd been hoping that the inbuilt mic on this webcam would do away with the need for the not-so-sexy headset I'd been using previously. But to have any chance of a decent clarity of sound during my conversations, I've had to resort to the headset, and put up with severe cases of headset hair after every Skype session.
Despite the problems with the microphone, I'm glad that I bought this webcam. I think it's good value for under £10, and the quality of image it produces is every bit as good as that of my friends' more expensive webcams. It's small but sturdy, and is very easy to use, even for someone who's never had a webcam before. If you can manage without relying on the slightly dodgy mic, then I'd recommend this webcam.