Microsoft announced two new additions to its Webcam lineup on Tuesday, the LifeCam VX-5500 and the LifeCam Show.
Take the LifeCam VX-5000, replace its Gumby-like rubber tail with a square plastic base, throw in some new 3D video effects and interchangeable faceplates, and you've got the LifeCam VX-5500. The camera body and optics remain the same as the previous model, which means the video quality remains very good, particularly for such an inexpensive Webcam.
The new 3D video effects include face tracking technology, so you can conduct video chats with a distorted head or while wearing a funny hat. You can also share video messages via a Vista Gadget, but you'll need to have a Vista PC and a LifeCam on both ends of the exchange. Maybe Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates exchange video messages this manner, but I doubt many others will find this feature all that useful.
While I liked the flexible yet sturdy Gumby stand on the previous model, the VX-5500's stand provides a solid base whether sitting on a desk or resting on the of a laptop or LCD. And for what it's worth, you can choose among three included faceplate--red, white, and blue.
My early tests with the VX-5500 reveal the same great performance as the VX-5000 that I reviewed earlier this year. Video at 640x480 looks smooth, and the image quality holds up well under low-light scenarios. Fast movement does cause some stuttering and blur, though the same can be said for all Webcams. Aside from the addition of the new 3D video effects, the LifeCam software remains largely unchanged and in need of an overhaul.
The VX-5500 will cost $60 when it starts shipping on September 25.
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