Playing Around With Microsoft's LifeCam Studio

Even though half a decade late, I played around with the Microsoft LifeCam Studio and the Microsoft Wireless Desktop 900. The Microsoft Wireless Desktop 900 is a wireless keyboard and mouse goodie box.

The following is a video, recorded using the LifeCam Studio, of myself unboxing the Wireless Desktop 900. The rest of the review in text will be focused on the LifeCam Studio. Treat this post as a 2-in-1 review.


LifeCam Studio

From the quality of video produced above, I can’t tell whether it’s better than my built-in webcam on my laptop or not. To be fair, recording of such videos is not its intended use. For gamers or heavy processor crunchers who still prefer to work on the PC or are still holding on to old-school laptops not equipped with webcams, this product’s for you.

"Today's Microsoft has fingers in dozens of pies, from small-business accounting software to Webcams. But too many efforts can distract from the unwavering focus you need for your core products and strategic initiatives." - Paul Allen, Co-Founder of Microsoft

This webcam is not bulky like most that I owned a few years ago. It looks slick and pimped my laptop with a 007 look. With dimensions 11.3 cm by 4 cm, it can also be mounted on a standard tripod. I just hooked it to the top of my laptop screen using its easy-to-setup universal attachment base.

Coupled with the constant rise of road rage simpletons on the road, it got me wondering whether I can use it as car dashboard camera to give it one up against my built-in webcam. Beyond Windows and Mac OS X, the datasheet says it also supports Android 3.2 and 4.2. For a less bulky dashboard setup, I should probably try to hook it up to a small Android PC (like the recently launched Remix MINI) as a weekend project… or maybe a year-long project since the Android flavours aren’t the same.

It’s a 1080p HD webcam for still images but does video chats at 720p HD. This resolution is good enough for its intended purpose (Skype/Hangout calls).

Microsoft promises automatic face tracking and while these tests can’t be seen in the recordings, its speed wasn’t highly impressive and you can literally video record its auto-focusing process using another camera. With capability to take 5MP photos, it has a wide angle lens and provides 4x digital zoom. It outperformed my built-in webcam!

The feature I was anticipating to test, which isn’t very common with most webcams, was the "Call Button". Previously, this feature was a major irritant with LifeCams because it was built to be used with Windows Live Messenger and a lot of people wanted to use it on other platforms like Skype. I found a number of hacks online to get it working on these platforms, but I expected Microsoft to have made this feature plug-and-play on Skype (at least) by now, especially with Microsoft having acquired them 5 years ago. This was a major disappointment as I had planned to test this feature with all my loafing partners on my contacts list.

High Points

  • Slick and non-bulky
  • 1080p HD photos
  • Flexible universal attachment base

Low Points

  • Not 1080p HD video
  • Automatic face tracking and autofocus
  • "Call Button" feature not plug-and-play

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