With an abundance of image settings and software, the Creative Live Motion Webcam is aimed at a more sophisticated Webcam user. It features remote monitoring and motion detection for the security-minded and has the impressive ability to take panoramic photos. At $149, however, the Live Motion costs more than a basic Webcam, and it's merely mediocre at its primary task of taking still photos and videos. If you need an inexpensive remote-monitoring system, the Live Motion is a practical solution. If you want a basic Webcam for shooting video and photos and using with IM clients, the less expensive
Though it's a fairly large Webcam, the Live Motion is surprisingly stable. Its versatile, clawlike stand can easily be perched on a desk, a CRT, or a flat-screen monitor, and the stand's rubberized grips prevent slippage. The camera's automatic pan and tilt offer a 200-degree horizontal and 105-degree vertical viewing area--an impressive range, considering that most Webcams, such as the Logitech QuickCam Fusion, offer only 90 degrees of vertical movement and must be adjusted manually.
The Creative Live Motion comes with a single CD that includes drivers, a manual, and software. The bundled apps include ArcSoft Video Impressions, for creating and editing basic videos; My Orb, for accessing files such as remote-monitoring images from any computer or PDA with an Internet connection; SightSpeed, a voice- and video-calling service; Creative WebCam Center, for remote monitoring and taking time-lapse photographs, panoramic shots, videos, and still photographs; and Creative Photo Manager, which organizes videos and still photos by date. This is an impressive bundle, especially since many Webcams offer only basic photo and video software.
The real value of the Creative Live Motion Webcam lies within WebCam Center. The software makes adjusting the image settings easy: a small Format tab allows you to choose color and image size and adjust the frame rate. A second tab allows you to adjust exposure, brightness, contrast, sharpness, and gamma. You can also adjust the color with settings that range from Neutral to More Vivid. The software includes controls for face tracking and adjusting the camera's position. The face-tracking feature is fairly accurate, but there is a lag between your movement and the time the camera centers on your face. Also, the feature will occasionally track other moving objects, such as a person walking through the background. And much to our annoyance, the camera's mechanism makes an audible clicking sound as it moves.
Given its solid build quality and its wealth of useful software, we were disappointed by the Live Motion's mediocre performance on our tests. We noticed quite a bit of digital noise in both video and still images. Video was generally smooth, but in bright light, at this Webcam's fastest recording speed of 30 frames per second (fps), quickly moving objects (such as a waving hand) came out blurry. Colors were vibrant, for the most part, even in low-light situations. Unfortunately, all photos and videos had a convex appearance, which was especially apparent in backgrounds.
Video records at a maximum 30fps at resolutions of 176x144, 160x120, 640x480, 352x288, or 320x240. You can capture still pictures at any of those resolutions, and the Live Motion can also take panoramic shots (1,920x720), in which it stitches four shots together. But be careful not to move during the 5 seconds it takes to shoot the panoramic picture, or your image will be distorted.
The Live Motion works with AIM and Yahoo Messenger, but in our tests it performed best with MSN Messenger's video software. The camera lacks a built-in microphone, but a headset comes in the package.
Creative offers an industry-standard one-year warranty on the Live Motion. Creative's support Web site includes knowledge-base articles, drivers, and software updates, as well as discussion forums and a form for e-mail tech support. A tech-support help line is also available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. CT.