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Simple and smart
A smart-looking little Webcam with a silver, gray, and bright-blue plastic body, the ClickSmart 310 is sturdily constructed. At 5.1 ounces with four AAA batteries installed, it's a compact snapshot camera when it's untethered. A comfortable grip makes the device easy to hold, and its tight-fitting lens cap protects the fixed-focus lens from getting a battering in your backpack. For Webcam use, the camera drops into a small cradle with a swiveling head and easily connects to your PC with the included USB cable. The cradle doesn't attach to the camera's tripod socket (as is the case with the ClickSmart 310's big brother, the ClickSmart 510), but a snug fit and a wide base make it surprisingly stable.Â Snapshooters will find using the ClickSmart 310 about as easy as it gets--there's just one Mode button that lets you cycle through the few camera settings on a small LCD.
As a digital camera, the ClickSmart 310 doesn't have many features to choose from, offering two resolution settings for still pictures, silent video-clip recording, and a fast, five-shot burst mode. There's 2MB of built-in memory, so you can store up to 160 still shots or 15 seconds of video. Transferring your pictures from the camera to a PC is easy. Once the Logitech software is installed, just plug in the USB cable and click the onscreen Download button. Then you can use the QuickCam software to view your pictures.
While the camera's features are very basic, the software that comes with it offers a fun array of options. There are simple photo-editing and photo-viewing tools, and the Web album software helps you build an HTML page and publish selected images to a SpotLife Web page. Logitech partners with SpotLife to offer camera users a free trial of Web space for albums, Webcams, and streaming video. Microsoft NetMeeting is included for videoconferencing, and broadcasting a live video show with the ClickSmart 310 is just a click away in the QuickCam software. Other options include creating movies, making animations, and our personal favorite: using the motion detector. Since it has no indicator lights when operating, you can use the ClickSmart 310 to spy on people without anyone knowing.
A Webcam at heart
As a Webcam, the 310 performs well when it comes to image quality, providing a clear, colorful picture even in low light. However, as a digital still camera, it falls into the toy-camera category. The snapshot functionality offers a nice novelty but isn't meant for serious picture taking. With no focusing, no flash, and no exposure settings, most images come out noisy and full of artifacts. The fixed-focus lens works best from five feet to infinity, but images are recognizable down to three feet.
For a durable Webcam with a generous software package and snapshot capability thrown in for fun, the ClickSmart 310 is a good value for students and families at its $79 list price. But if you need a dual cam that does a better job with still images and can also record sound, take a step up to Logitech's .