Laptop webcam

I bought a webcam yesterday for my laptop. The kind with the auto-tracking and LED lighting. I really don’t have any use for the auto-tracking feature since I don’t move around much while working but I needed the lighting. That’s the main reason I couldn’t use my desktop webcam to chat with friends and family. I often work on the laptop while in bed late into the night. And usually its pretty dark since neither Swati nor the baby sleep comfortably with a light on. Not much point in broadcasting a black screen to anyone.

My hardware dealer knows me pretty well since I’ve been buying all my hardware for both office and home from him for years. And one of the advantages he gives me is the ability to choose. This time he game me six webcams to take home and test them out to see which one fit the bill the best. One of them didn’t work at all with my hardware… it had eight LED mounted around the lens and the light was almost like a table lamp. But my USB port refused to power it, I guess it was only for the desktops or exclusively line-powered devices.

Out of the rest, the piece I eventually decided to keep was the one with a single lamp but it’s a new kind of extra bright LED with a defused lens so the light is evenly radiated in a larger area. Since there is only one lamp, its easy on the battery as well. The lens is a five element UV coated 10 mm dia and supposed to be a true 2.1 mega-pixel CCD, though I would not be using it anywhere near that depth. My internet connection would crawl to a halt for even a single frame broadcast. That would be a 1600 x 1280 pixel broadcast – way beyond DVD quality.

What I find amazing is the drastic change in technology for these little critters. Even with the single LED and no other source of light, the camera gives razor sharp true colors. I can still make out my face on the screen in front of me even while the LED is off with only the light from the dull screen of my laptop. Amazing! And its driver alone comes with tones of live special effects for the capture. Most are silly but I am sure my daughter would get several laughs out of them.

I didn’t install the drivers or the software from the supplied CD. I am vary of most UIs since they do little else but clog up the hard-disk and often load up several TSRs that serve no useful function. So I didn’t load the one that came with this. Matter of fact, I didn’t even bother to insert the disk that came with the cam to see what was on it. Just downloaded the drivers direct from the chipset website and fired up my favorite chat program. My rule of thumb is that if the chipset manufacturer is different from the manufacturer of the product, its best to get the drivers and core UI direct from the chipset guys. That’s all most people would ever need.

For the moment, all I need to do is sit under a tree in a park and video chat with those I usually chat with. There is no shortage of parks here in Bhopal and most are around the seven lakes within the city. Most of them with hundreds, if not thousands, of trees. If only I can find a wi-fi enabled park here now.

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