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Ipevo would have you believe that its pen-shaped PoV Web Camera is the only Webcam you can detach from the top of your laptop or monitor to control its point of view. While it is true that you can point the PoV cam at objects other than a talking head seated in front of a computer screen, the same can also be said of the Microsoft LifeCam VX-5000. The Ipevo PoV cam is inexpensive at $39, but the LifeCam VX-5000 is a better general purpose Webcam with vastly superior low-light performance for only $10 more. Consider the PoV cam only if you need to shoot close-up shots; the camera has a manual focus and boasts an excellent macro mode. You'll run into problems, however, if you attempt to use its remote monitoring feature with the latest version of Skype or a Mac. And, oddly, the included software lets you record only still shots and not video--a frustrating limitation.
The camera itself is shaped like a pen, and when removed from its clip gives you a natural feel when tracking subjects. (Straighten out the LifeCam VX-5000's rubber base and you can wave it around, too.) A focus ring surrounds the PoV's lens, which you can use to adjust the focus from normal portrait mode to the outstanding macro mode. An on/off switch sits on the top of the camera along with two buttons: one to snap a still photo and another to share that photo. To share a photo, you simply select a name from your Skype contacts, but the catch is that your friend must also be running Ipevo PoV software.
Ipevo makes Skype accessories, so it was no surprise to see the bundled Point of View software include a prompt for you to install Skype. The camera works flawlessly with Skype, and Ipevo reports that it also works with IM clients from AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo. When not using Skype, the Point of View app can be used to record still images but not video. The app features two windows--one a preview for your next still shot and the other for the last shot you took. Below, it keeps a text list of the photos you've recorded. This is the first Webcam we've tested in recent memory that doesn't also allow you to record video--a strange omission for a Webcam. You can engage in video conferences via a third-party IM client, but the Point of View app does not allow you to record video to your PC as you can with Creative's Live Cam app, Logitech's QuickCam app, or Microsoft's LifeCam app.
The CMOS sensor records snapshots at its native 640x480 resolution, which is typical of Webcams. Through software interpolation, you can bump the resolution up to 800x600 at the expense of picture clarity.
In testing, the PoV proved itself to be merely an average performer. It struggled in low light--a common scenario, we imagine, unless your video conferences are professionally lit--showing washed-out colors, poor details in shadows and dark areas, and digital noise. The LifeCam VX-5000 was clearly superior in this regard; it looked as if we were sitting in a different (and well-lit) room compared with the PoV. The PoV has a Low Light setting (a box you either check or leave unchecked), but it did nothing to improve the picture.
The one area where the Ipevo PoV Web Camera excels is with its macro mode. Ipevo claims it focuses down to 3.3 inches away from your subject, but we were able to keep focus down to 1.5 inches. If you need to review remote documents line by line via a Webcam, this is the camera for you and your associates. By comparison, the Microsoft LifeCam VX-5000, like most Webcams, features an autofocus; it doesn't let you get inside a foot without blurring the image.
We attempted to test the camera's remote monitoring feature, which lets you place a Skype call to a remote PC, enter a password, and then view the resulting video--in theory, at least. We were able to connect to the remote PC, but each time the video window showed a blank pause screen with the message, "Call Remotely Held." Turns out there is a bug with the latest version of Skype (3.8), which has yet to be worked out. Earlier versions of Skype should work, Ipevo tells us.
Ipevo backs the PoV cam with a one-year warranty. Online support includes drivers and the user guide. Only one product has an FAQ page established for it, and it is not the PoV Web Camera.