* Prices may differ from that shown
My mum is a self-taught internet buff and it never fails to amaze me how advanced she is technologically. Her latest craze is Skype. My two sisters and I have been given webcams and bullied into opening up Skype accounts so she can see us and her grandchildren while we talk. Unfortunately it appears to have become an obsession and my mums face is all too often to be seen dominating our monitor in the study. Gone are the days when I can pretend that I have been awake for ages when she phones me at 10am on a Sunday morning and I am still in my pyjamas.
The webcam that she bought each of us is Microsoft's VX 2000 which is in their mid-priced range. It has everything that the home user would require from a webcam. The quality and ease of use make it a good buy for even the most inexperienced PC user. It is set up in minutes with Plug and Play. It fits on most monitors, including flat screens and notebooks, or it can sit directly on your desk.
Microsoft are promoting the VX 2000 as a video messenger tool for programs such as Window live, Yahoo, AOL and Skype messenger . It is customised for Windows live messenger, so when you complete the installation of the setup disc you will be guided through an account setup if required. It says that Windows Live Messenger lets you chat online via text, voice and video and if you combine these features they promise an unforgettable experience.
The webcam takes Up To 30 Frames per Second which means the video images you see are smooth and seamless. The 3X Digital Zoom delivers a realistic, up-close-and-personal video. The camera auto-adjusts for low-light conditions. If you want to take a photo the shot will be a sharp 1.3 megapixel image. There is a built-in microphone which automatically picks up your voice with remarkable clarity.
To access the webcam you double click on the Microsoft LifeCam icon that will appear on your desktop after installation. You will see an image of yourself and will be able to adjust the camera in order to centralise yourself in the frame. Much to the amusement of my dear mother there are video special effects. You can access this by expanding the webcam box on your desktop. There is a blue arrow on the right of the image or you will find a camera icon on the taskbar at the bottom of your screen, if you click on this the LifeCam Dashboard box pops up, you can adjust the camera from here but for my mum and other younger users you will be able to play around with your video image.
The video special effects are quite basic but provided my mum with a good hour or so of entertainment. We all fell around laughing, not at the image but of her because she was having so much fun playing with the settings. There are 102 different effects which range from bulging eyes, raindrops, silly hats, wigs and cartoon characters that dance across the image to different colour effects. My mum tried the lot!
We are fortunate to have a very fast cable broadband but my mum has a slower broadband connection and tends to use her laptop wirelessly to talk to us. The image that we downloaded to her is crystal clear and the sound quality faultless. She has the same camera but the images that we receive are blurry and the sound is erratic, it sounds like she is talking from a badly connected mobile phone. My son assures us that there is nothing wrong with the camera but the image that you send will vary in quality depending on your internet connection. Beware if this is true as it seems a waste of money to pay out for a decent quality camera if you have a slow internet service. My sisters are also projecting perfect images and sound quality from their cameras, they both have a good broadband speed, which leads me to believe that my son is correct. I think it is worth mentioning that the hardware doesn't appear to have slowed down my system.
This webcam requires a 25 MB hard-drive space typically. It requires an operating system for a Windows-based PC. You need a PC that meets the requirements for and has installed one of these operating systems;
Minimum: Intel Pentium 4 (3 GhZ), 1 GB of RAM; recommended: Intel Pentium (Dual-Core 1.8 GHz), 2 GB of RAM, 1250 MB free Windows Vista®
Minimum: Intel Pentium 4 (3 GhZ), 1 GB of RAM; recommended: Intel Pentium (Dual-Core 1.8 GHz), 2 GB of RAM, 1250 MB free
Windows® XP with Service Pack 2 (SP2) or later
Minimum: Intel Pentium 4 (3 GhZ), 1 GB of RAM; recommended: Intel Pentium (Dual-Core 1.8 GHz), 2 GB of RAM, 1250 MB free.
You also need
USB 1.1 (2.0 recommended)
16-bit colour depth or higher
2 MB or higher video memory
You will need a CD-ROM to install the software
Internet functions also require Internet Explorer 6/7 for installation
It says on the box that there is a 3-Year Limited Hardware Warranty
For me the best part of having this webcam is being able to read my 4 year old nephew a bedtime story, yesterday he fell asleep and I watched him sleep for 10 minutes, it really was precious.