Microsoft Live Vision Camera

As I mentioned recently, I’ve been working towards my complete (or as complete as I can get) Macification at home. An important step in this process was getting the Lescam working, so my legions of fans[1] can see me in all my, err, me-ness. Anyway, as I mentioned, Mac-compatible webcams aren’t all that common. Apple used to sell apparently rather good (and very expensive as such things go) Firewire cameraa, but these have been discontinued. And did I mention that they were expensive? There are also some creditable open-source efforts to produce drivers that will make more mass-market webcams behave nicely. I tried one of those with my Logitech camera, but the results weren’t too good – it connected, but seemed to stutter and not load the whole image. So I did some more reading and found this little beauty. The camera is sold bundled with a headset and a trial X Box Live membership[2]. It is, in fact, designed to work with Microsoft’s XBox 360 console. And it also works with Windows XP. But what Microsoft don’t tell you is that it also works as a “Quicktime Compatible Camera” on Mac OS X. Yup. Plug it in and it works. No drivers required.

With the software I’ll talk about in another post, the image is bright and clear (much better than I was getting with the Logitech, in fact). And it has a focus ring! Now that’s something I haven’t had since my first webcam some time in the 20th Century. That was a nice thing – a bit big, quite expensive, fairly low resolution, but it was good stuff at the time. Most webcams are fixed-focus, relying on a lot of depth of field to get the subject in focus, which might be nice for monitoring a room, or some such, but a bit rubbish if you want to show one thing (such as your face) clearly. OK, some people might suggest that I’d be better off out of focus, but we’ll ignore them.

I don’t know how it performs on Windows PCs, but if you’re using Mac OS X and you want a webcam that plugs in and works without needing any fiddling or muttering, this is worth a look.

And there is a certain amusing irony in having to buy a webcam for an Apple computer from Microsoft…

[1] :lol: :laugh: :lol: :laugh:
[2] Some sort of games console thinginess. Not something I pay any attention to these days…

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