Microsoft LifeCam Studio Review
When I initially set out to buy a new camera, I wasn’t expecting to purchase from the Microsoft LifeCam product line, as I originally had the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C910 in mind. I’m the type to do an extensive obsessive amount of research on products before I commit to buy. I was researching pricing of the C910 on Google, when I noticed it was marked as “#3 in webcams”. I took a peek at the list to notice that the LifeCam Studio was number one. This made me shift my research from the C910 alone to a comparison between the two products.
They both have a MSRP of $99.99, but I knew up front I wasn’t going to pay anything close to that for a new camera. I instantly noticed that I could get the LifeCam Studio for roughtly $10.00 cheaper than the C910. More research showed that while both cameras have a 1080p sensor, they can only do video calls in 720p, and only where software supports it. The C910 features dual stereo microphones, while the LifeCam Studio only has a single microphone. However in the research I did on the microphones, the LifeCam Studio sounded better in every situation when compared to the C910. The last real immediate difference was the style and design of the products. The C910 just looks funky… It’s wide, and flat, and takes up a lot of space. I really didn’t mind the C910’s look at first glance, but when compared to the LifeCam Studio, the LifeCam wins hands down. It has a clean, professional looking aluminum barrel that houses the camera, as well as a blue LED indicator light on the top. The LifeCam also features a “one push video calling button”, but it requires you to have Windows Live Messenger installed, which I do not use. I can likely figure out a registry tweak to change this, and if I do I’ll post it another day, perhaps I can make it launch Skype, or even a Google+ Hangout.
The one aspect of the cameras that I didn’t pit against eachother is the software. It was a complete oversight on my part, but I feel as if I lucked out. Generally additional Microsoft software forces the “Windows Live Essentials” suite onto your PC, which I can’t use because of incompatibilities with Boxee. Luckily the LifeCam software made Windows Live Essentials an optional install. I’m actually extremely pleased with software package as well. It’s very “Windows Vista” themed, and could use a UI update, but it’s extremely functional. Your main video window is the large section to the left, with three buttons under it, to snap a photo, record a video, or record audio. There is also a slideout pane to the right which has video effects, and advanced camera settings.
The advanced TrueColor technology on the camera really makes a huge difference in dimly lit rooms. In my living room, the light is on the opposite side of the room, so this is extremely important to me. The TrueColor difference can be seen below. It really does make that big of a difference.
One thing I did notice during my initial setup, was I received strange artifacts and horizontal color lines in the video preview (when operating at HD resolutions, including 720p and 1080p). My initial thought was a faulty camera and that I would have to replace it, but after a few minutes of troubleshooting, it turned out to be my USB 2.0 hub not being fast enough to keep up with the HD aspect of the camera. I changed USB ports, and plugged it directly into one of the onboard USB 2.0 ports from my motherboard, and the issue completely went away.