Microsoft LifeCam HD-5000 review: Microsoft LifeCam HD-5000

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MSRP: $49.95

The Good 720p HD video quality at 30 frames per second, flexible base sits firmly on hard surfaces; inexpensive; LifeCam desktop software offers fun 3D video effects.

The Bad Jumpy auto-focus during video recording; CPU hog at higher resolutions; incompatible with Mac OS;

The Bottom Line The Microsoft LifeCam HD-5000 Web camera offers excellent high-def video and sound quality at an affordable price. Despite using a good deal of system resources at higher resolutions, it's certainly an improvement over stock Webcams. We recommend it to anyone looking for a smoother video chat experience.

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7.0 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7

The Microsoft LifeCam HD-5000 is the desktop version of the LifeCam HD-6000 laptop Webcam, with minor differences that account for the lower price tag. At $50, the true 720p high-def video and 16:9 wide-screen formatting are a guaranteed upgrade from most of the stock Webcams built into today's systems, and the LifeCam software boosts the entertainment value with clever 3D video overlays and effects. Its shortcomings include an auto-focus that struggles to maintain a solid picture and the video encoding is hungry for CPU processing. Minor issues aside, the LifeCam HD-5000 is a worthwhile aftermarket Webcam that deserves your attention.

Design and features
The LifeCam HD-5000 and the HD-6000 share a similar shape and size, featuring a glossy black housing and an integrated Windows Messenger button on top, but several minor differences are easily distinguishable. First, the laptop version is supposed to travel with your laptop so it's slightly smaller than its desktop cousin. In addition, the USB cable attached to the HD-5000 is 2 feet longer than the HD-6000 to accommodate the longer travel from a tower on the ground to the top of a monitor or desktop.

The most significant difference between the physical build of the two Webcams is the base connection. On the HD-6000 laptop version, a small clip unfolds to allow for easy mounting on top of a laptop display, while the HD-5000 instead features a flexible rubber foot to accommodate a thicker full-size display. Finally, the HD-6000 offers mobile users the capability to swivel the camera 360 degrees in a full range of movement; the HD-5000 is static. Both models, however, are exceptionally small and will fit comfortably in a laptop bag or carry-on.