Logitech QuickCam Pro 3000
WHAT'S HOT: The Logitech QuickCam Pro 3000 packages respectable still and video image quality with a terrific software suite. A PC-tethered camera, the Pro 3000's software makes it easy to adjust color and exposure controls. Plus, there's a manual focus ring for fine-tuning sharpness, which allows you to get closer to the lens than with other devices that rely solely on autofocus.
One of this product's strengths is its software suite. Logitech's proprietary QuickCam 6.0 software is unique in how tightly it's integrated with the QuickCam hardware. This application unifies a variety of Webcam activities under a single interface; you can use it to shoot videos and share them on the Web, or to do videoconferencing and Webcasting (the latter is via a free trial membership to SpotLife.com, an online broadcasting service; continued membership ranges from $3 to $100 per month). Other bundled software includes MGI's PhotoSuite 4.0 SE and VideoWave 4.0 SE for photo and video editing, respectively.
WHAT'S NOT: The QuickCam Pro 3000 only works when connected to a PC; it cannot be undocked and used as a portable digital camera, as you can with dual-purpose models such as the Creative Labs PC-CAM 600, the D-Link DSC-350F, and the Kodak EZ200.
WHAT ELSE: The QuickCam Pro 3000's billiard ball head tilts and swivels on its small base, letting you point it nearly any direction you want. Unfortunately, the base is so light that the camera will not always stay precisely where you set it. You might have to resort to using household tape to anchor the camera in place on your tabletop or monitor.
For both video and still images, the QuickCam Pro 3000 supports 640-by-480-pixel maximum resolution. At that resolution, video can be streamed and captured at up to 30 frames per second, as well as at various user-determined smaller frame sizes and lower rates. Still-image quality will suffice for viewing on your monitor or posting on the Web; however, the resolution is barely adequate for printing 4-by-6-inch prints.
Installation and setup are easy and fully explained in the printed documentation. The camera includes a lengthy 9-foot USB cable, built-in microphone, and a clever privacy visor for blocking the camera's view (without turning it off or unplugging it). In videoconferencing tests, the quality of the streaming video was good overall and comparable to that of the Creative PC-CAM 600. Dial-up modem users will inevitably see some jerky motion, which is typical when using a low-bandwidth Internet connection.
UPSHOT: A bit pricey, but if you're looking for a Webcam that will live on your PC, the well-rounded QuickCam Pro 3000 offers a versatile software package and easy-to-use Web video and broadcasting features.