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Microsoft announces LifeCam VX-5000

Microsoft announces LifeCam VX-5000

The LifeCam VX-5000 features a flexible, rubber stand. Matt Elliott/CNET Networks

Microsoft introduced a new Webcam today. The LifeCam VX-5000 might have made a thoughtful $50 Mother's Day gift had Microsoft released it last week. Instead, it won't be out until June--perhaps in time for Father's Day. With integrated Webcams showing up in an increasing number of laptops and LCD monitors, who is buying a separate Webcam these days? The only person I know who has purchased a Webcam in the recent past is me--for my folks so they can Skype with the grandkids.

Should you be in the market for a Webcam, you should know that the VX-5000 is very similar to the LifeCam NX-3000 I looked at last year but with an improved design that features a bendable, Gumby-like base that lets you easily affix the camera to the top of your laptop or LCD, or position it directly on your desk. Like last year's model, the VX-5000 is compact and features VGA resolution. The bundled LifeCam software has an updated look, but the underlying functionality is the same, with the same annoying quirks and limitations I encountered last year. Microsoft told me that a new version of its LifeCam software will hit this fall when it releases a follow-up to its VX-7000 Webcam.

Microsoft also announced the LifeCam VX-500, a low-end $16.95 Webcam, and the LifeChat LX-2000, a $29.95 headset. Both of these products will be available later this month, according to Microsoft.

I'm currently testing the LifeCam VX-5000. After I test its low-light performance this evening, look for the full review tomorrow.