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Computer Accessories

Creative Live! Cam Voice: A smarter webcam

Check out this new-breed camera from Creative -- it has a 1.3-megapixel sensor, array mics and face-tracking technology

Internet webcams are rubbish. Sure, they're useful if you're chatting to someone on MSN Messenger or Skype, but aside from that nobody really uses them. We're willing to bet you have a webcam gathering dust under your bed right now. You do, don't you? Admit it.

The reason they're the black sheep of the IT world is because the technology hasn't moved on in over a decade. Most of them have used an ultra-crappy 640x480 (0.3-megapixel) resolution since day one, despite the fact that broadband offers the potential for far better pictures.

Thankfully Creative, the great-grandfather of webcams, has dusted off its old webcam stash, fitted some new gubbins and created the Live! Cam Voice. It's got some funky technology inside it, including a 1.3-megapixel sensor that is capable of producing 5-megapixel still images through interpolation.

The hardware itself captures images at 1.3-megapixels (1,280 x 960 pixels), but can multiply the number of dots in the image through software to make it bigger. It's not much use for video conferencing, and it doesn't particularly improve the quality of the images (which are decent enough for a webcam), but it's great if you fancy printing large poster-style pictures.

The Live! Cam Voice has the ability to pan horizontally and vertically (although not by very much), plus there's smart tracking so it can follow your face around, provided you don't stray too far.

According to Creative, its main feature is its adaptive-array microphones, which help to cancel out background noise so you don't have to use a headset. It's great if you work in a noisy environment, or if you like to listen to music while you show your smiling chops to the rest of the Internet.

We think the Live! Cam Voice is one small step for webcam-kind, but it's still a giant leap behind where we think the technology should be. You can buy one for about £80. -RR