The Good Can do remote monitoring and time-lapse video; ball-and-socket joint provides flexibility; camera rotates 270 degrees; stand works equally well on top of desk or atop a monitor.
The Bad Image quality struggles in low light; buggy software; face tracking feature is useless.
The Bottom Line If remote video surveillance or time-lapse photography is something you want to do with a Webcam, the Creative Live Cam Optia AF is a good pick. For all others, Logitech has a better (and slightly cheaper) Webcam.
Creative Live! Cam Optia AF
The Creative Live Cam Optia AF is the ideal Webcam if you are looking to shoot objects other than yourself: your talented pet or your back door or your rose garden. For simply recording video of yourself sitting in front of your PC, Logitech's QuickCam Pro 9000 boasts a clearly superior image, particularly in low-light settings or those with a bright background. Creative has no answer for Logitech's RightLight technology for optimizing the image quality. And while the Logitech QuickCam software installs without incident, I wouldn't be surprised if you hit a couple snags when installing the software with the Live Cam Optia AF. What this Creative cam (generally listed for around $109 online) has going for it is an excellent design that makes it easy to record subjects other than yourself at your PC and a huge if somewhat buggy software bundle. Unless you're security conscious and want a Webcam you can set up for remote surveillance or would like to engage your artistic talents and dabble in time-lapse video, you'll be better served by the $99 Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000.
The Creative Live Cam Optia AF looks like a blown-up version of the company's Live Cam Notebook Ultra. The larger size nets you a larger sensor, from 1.3 megapixels on the laptop cam to 2.0 megapixels on the Live Cam Optia AF. You can capture video at up to 30 frames per second and up to a resolution of 1,600x1,200. You can take 2-megapixel still photos, and with software interpolation, up to 8-megapixel shots. The glossy, black camera is attached to a clear plastic base, but this time a ball-and-socket joint connects the two pieces, which allows for precise positioning without needing to move your monitor.
More impressively, the camera can be rotated 270 degrees, which lets you quickly spin the camera around to shoot objects in front of you. It's of more use on a laptop, where you might be capturing your hilarious cat or sublimely talented 2-year old performing in front of you. The image is automatically flipped when you rotate the camera around to face the opposite direction, and you can twist the lens so that it's facing down and into the stand, which disconnects the camera should you feel as if someone is staring at you.
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