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Computer Accessories

A $150 webcam sounds crazy, but hear us out

Log into Windows with your face, launch apps with a wave of a hand and produce pro game streams with Razer's 3D camera.

Now playing: Watch this: Razer's Stargazer webcam sees the world in 3D -- and...

Why would you ever spend $150 on a webcam when practically every laptop, tablet and phone has one built right in? Maybe because the Razer Stargazer, arriving in the second quarter of 2016, is unlike any webcam you've seen.

Plug it into a Windows 10 computer, and you won't need to type a password: You can log in just by looking at your PC. You'll be able to launch apps with a wave of a hand, because the Stargazer can recognize gestures.

And if you're a game streaming guru, broadcasting your video game exploits to the world, the Stargazer might make the most sense of all. When you use the popular Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) to stream your games to Twitch, the Stargazer can put a live video stream of your face in the corner of your video, without requiring you to invest in a green screen to separate your face from the background.

The Intel RealSense depth camera inside the Stargazer can separate your face from your surroundings, much like a green screen.

Sean Hollister/CNET

All of this is possible because the Stargazer has Intel's RealSense technology inside. Much like the Microsoft Kinect that you might have bought for your Xbox, the Intel solution uses a pair of cameras and an infrared laser projector so it can see in 3D. Instead of seeing a flat image of your hand or face, it can tell that they're 3D objects and isolate them from the background appropriately.

In practice, it works pretty well. When I tried the Stargazer at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show here in Las Vegas, I found that my face and a couple different gestures were nearly instantly recognized as long as I wasn't too close or too far away from the camera. Using the Stargazer with the Windows Hello auto-login feature of Windows 10 was definitely faster than typing in a password, and I could switch between apps repeatedly just by spreading my fingers or making a thumbs-up sign in front of the camera.

Sean Hollister/CNET

Still, it's $150 in the US, which is roughly £110 or AU$200 converted. I'm curious who will buy one at that price.

Some other details:

  • 60 frames-per-second capture optimized for streaming (at 1,280,x720-pixel resolution)
  • Max 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution video capture
  • Automatic noise-cancelling dual array mic
  • Dynamic Background Removal (will support OBS, Skype, Oovoo, XSplit, IR Facerig, QQ and Razer Cortex)
  • Flexible clip for laptops and desktop monitors
  • Tripod mount
  • Requires computer with Windows 10, USB 3.0 port and sixth-gen Intel Core processor

Update, September 2: Fixed price, originally reported as $200.

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