Although Microsoft would really like it if you used the camera with its own IM client, the LifeCam NX-3000 works with other IM clients that support video conferencing, including Skype. Video quality on Skype was indistinguishable to that of using either of the laptop Webcams from Creative or Logitech--not great, but more than passable with decent color levels and relatively smooth movement.
The camera's VGA sensor can capture video up to a resolution of 640x480 and up to 30 frames per second and snap 1.3-megapixel still photos. The Logitech QuickCam Pro Webcam's by comparison, can record video up to 960x720 and 2-megapixel photos. And Microsoft's LifeCam software doesn't have anything akin to Logitech's RightLight technology. You're given sliders for adjusting brightness, contrast, hue, among others, but there's no option to have the software optimize the image given current lighting conditions. You're forced to tweak the settings manually or return to the default setting. There are boxes next to each for Auto, but all are grayed out save the box for White Balance (which didn't seem to do anything anyway).
With minimal tweaking, however, we found the colors to be more accurate and vivid than the output from the Creative Live Cam Notebook Ultra; the Logitech QuickCam Pro for Notebooks is still far and away the best of the bunch in terms of overall image quality. The Microsoft cam struggled in low light, but instead of a dark image with shadows masking your face, the image became grainier the less light there was. Lastly, despite its small size, the LifeCam NX-3000 surprised us with its clean audio.
The LifeCam NX-3000 is the same size as the Creative Live Cam Notebook Ultra at 3 inches long and an inch high. Its spring-loaded clip can accommodate thicker laptop lids than that of the Creative cam, stretching out to 0.75 inch. The clip allowed for a very secure mount on the three laptops we tested. Unlike the Creative cam, which can be rotated around to face directly away from you, the LifeCam NX-3000 rotates only 60 degrees.