The $129 WebCam Go is a clever, dual-purpose device that shoots as a digital camera and yet functions quite well as a Web camera. By itself, the WebCam Go is a 6-ounce, handheld, battery-powered VGA (640 by 480 pixel) digital camera that you can tote around to shoot photos anywhere. But when you attach it to the computer with a 3-foot USB cable, the WebCam Go transforms into an efficient, easy-to-operate Web camera. The $129 WebCam Go is a clever, dual-purpose device that shoots as a digital camera and yet functions quite well as a Web camera. By itself, the WebCam Go is a 6-ounce, handheld, battery-powered VGA (640 by 480 pixel) digital camera that you can tote around to shoot photos anywhere. But when you attach it to the computer with a 3-foot USB cable, the WebCam Go transforms into an efficient, easy-to-operate Web camera.
The WebCam Go's long, tapered, dark grey plastic body has two curved, rubberized strips on the bottom that help keep the camera from sliding off the top of a monitor. The lens swivels 90 degrees so that you can point the camera in the correct direction. The WebCam Go is simple to set up, but clips or a tripod socket would make it easier to aim the camera precisely at the area you want to cover.
Once we had the camera properly aimed, we found it quite versatile and simple to use. The bundled software employs easily understandable rollover buttons and clickable options to choose preferences and capture images. There's a great deal of control possible, and it includes tools for image and video editing, teleconferencing, and emailing.
The Digital Camera
Unplug the WebCam Go, fold the lens head into the body of the camera, and it's ready to hit the road as a digital still camera. On its back, you'll find a tiny, round LCD and three buttons: On, Off, and Mode. The camera is powered by two triple-A alkaline batteries, which are good for about 300 shots (this battery power doesn't compare well to that of digital cameras, many of which usually take closer to 1,000 pictures before dying). The WebCam Go saves images to its 4MB of internal RAM--there's no provision for removable memory cards--which holds from 92 to 460 color shots, depending upon the resolution and compression levels you set when the camera is tethered to the computer.
As digital cameras go, the WebCam Go is light on features. It lacks an LCD viewfinder, so users must guesstimate where to set the lens for accurate focus. Nor are there any provisions for deleting images or manually adjusting white balance or exposure. Also, there's no flash, so images shot in low light tend to be dark. But the WebCam Go's ultrasimple point-and-shoot capability and quick start-up and reset times mean that users can begin capturing images in seconds, while other, more sophisticated and complicated digital cameras are still booting up.
The quality of those pictures, both still and video, is acceptable but well below that of other Webcams we've seen. Images are bright and sharp, colors are strong without being overpowering, and the relatively high bandwidth means smooth, seamless motion.
While the WebCam Go's price of $135 isn't high, it's not cheap, either. However, if you're really in need of a dual digital camera and Webcam, this will work as an inexpensive option.