WEBCAMS | Recently found this webcam on a website, while shopping for some memory cards and other portable means of storage. I fell instantly for the quite amazing specs sheet of this webcam, including a CMOS sensor offering 12 Megapixel photos, and a staggering 7 Megapixel - or 3200 by 2400 pixels, if you will - video recording! On top of that, add a built-in microphone for live audio recording, plus no less than 8 LED's to light up your old mug when taking your picture. All this, in a neat package for practically nothing! It almost sounded too good too be true!

Digtal Camera Alternative?

On paper, this sounds like it could substitute any high-end compact digital camera, at least as far as indoor use goes. My hopes was that this neat little thing would be a quicker alternative, as you with this thing would get the photos and videos stored straight on your computer, instead of having to use memory card readers or cables to transfer your work from the camera.

So, needless to say, I was very eager to give this little rascal a try, at the significantly modest price level especially!

So, for merely 129 SEK - roughly US $20, or £12.50, if you live in the UK, how much of a USB video camera can you really churn out? Is this thing really worthwhile to take a closer peek at? Well, keep on reading!

REVIEW


Back specs
For startes, the webcam is made by a company called Digicomm, but apparantly it's "made for Germany", it says on the back of the package (see picture below).

It can be placed on any smooth surface or pinched onto a really thin flatscreen monitor. And I means really thin. If the monitor bulges out just a little on the back, the camera will most likely slip off before you know it. Even if it would fit, I wouldn't recommend attaching it anyway, unless you don't mind having your monitor  harshly scuffed and scratched by a 20 dollar webcam...

Included Software

The webcam is stated to be driverless (for Windows XP SP2 and above), but is shipped with a little 8 cm mini-DVD with drivers for users of older Windows versions. The disc also contains a couple of basic softwares that aren't more useful than the preview window that's already present in Windows XP's revision of its built-in Windows Explorer application.

Cold, short-range LED's

Analogue wheel controller for the 8 LED lights
The web camera also comes with a fixed, non-detachable USB cable, so if you need to replace the cable, you'll need to be a quite skilled electrician, as the said cable also has the controller of the LED lights built onto it, much like the power cord to your regular table lamp. However, this controller is analogue, enabling you to have the light more or less dimmed down, although the responsiveness of the control itself leaves much to desire. While staying dead for the most part of the scale, the LED's start delivering at full very quickly and drastically toward the top end.

The LED's themselves provide the regular, cold blueish light they generally do. Even though there's eight of them, however, their range is not very long at all, but should suffice if you have the camera attached or preferably; right next to your monitor, just recording yourself.

Mic / Audio quality

Package front
The Digicomm USB video camera comes with a "HQ mic", as it is advertised. And, quite frankly, the thing actually isn't that bad at all. Quite honestly, the sound quality wasn't the part of this product that I had the highest hopes for, but it actually gets the job done quite nicely.

It obviously doesn't have any wind or noise filtering, like a proper microphone probably would, but as it's meant to be placed a bit away from you to begin with, this shouldn't be much of a problem. Not unless you're planning on using it for a singing mic... Then you should look into something different...

Last but not least... What you've all been waiting for:

Video quality

USB VGA camera, according to the
Windows device manager
12 Megapixels, huh? Well, I've tested this camera with two separate systems, both equipped with Windows 7, as well as Windows XP. The device is recognised as a VGA camera by both systems in both of the two operating systems. And it does so with or without its supplied drivers. There you have it. It is VGA, not HD, and most certainly not "Ultra HD". The photos as well as videos produced by this device is on par with any standard VGA webcam. Not better, but not worse either.

Like your average webcam, this Digicomm device produce unsharp, watered out photos with quite poor colour reproduction. Video recording also suffers from lag, and runs at an awful low and choppy frame rate.

Video sample

Before wrapping this review up, here's a short video recorded with this webcam, to let you judge the quality yourself. Enjoy!



VERDICT

Overall, this is not an inferior product, especially for its bargain price. However, if a digital camera for indoor (or near-computer) use is what you're looking for, and thus falling for the specs of this product, you'll clearly be disappointed. When crisp, high resolution photos is desired, a better choice would be to instead spend some more green ones and get just that; a proper digicam.

This thing - whatever the specs sheet says - is working at a resolution of 320 by 240 pixels, period. And as expected of a webcam in this price segment, it also suffers from poor colour reproduction and slow, choppy video recording. Ergo, this product shouldn't be used for anything but video chatting over an already limited bandwidth, hence making higher quality video output useless.

It's all about what your expectations are. If you can settle with a basic webcam and perhaps already have a good digital camera, and are in the choosing between this and other budget webcams, it's probably not a bad deal at all. Especially with the 8 LED's and fairly decent microphone it provides.