13 Webcams Reviewed

Microsoft LifeCam VX-5000

The Bundled Software

Microsoft includes software with its webcam that enables shooting videos as well as photos with a maximum resolution of 640 x 480 pixels and 1.3 megapixels, respectively. However, one limitation is that this will all have to be done close to your computer. Digital cameras and camcorders give you the advantage of greater mobility, but with this webcam you are limited by the USB cable.
Probably to prevent Logitech from being the only manufacturer to offer avatars in Live Messenger, Microsoft also has its small collection of tools which has grown in number since the last generation. We'll let you judge their overall usefulness for yourself.

The Microsoft LifeCam VX-5000 is equipped with a 1.3 megapixel sensor with a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels.  The first detail that stands out is that this webcam is very compact, which means easy transport.  Moreover, it is mounted on a flexible rubber base which enables placement on any type of support such as an LCD, CRT or even the desktop.  Contrary to the VX-1000, 3000 and 6000, there is an automatic focus feature which is highly desireable. 

On the desktop

On a CRT

On an LCD
On a laptop


So, what about image quality?

Microsoft has made huge improvements over its previous models.  During the day, quality is very good and the image rate is more than satisfactory.  Those who can’t sit still can move freely without being bothered by afterglow or a lack of fluidity.  In a poorly lit room, the subject is indeed visible on the screen while reactivity is slightly inferior.  Plan on having an alternative light source to give your conversation partner better visibility.

Good sound quality.

Sound quality is very satisfactory and the voice is recognizable.  Better yet, there is no background noise such as computer fans, which aren’t always the most discreet.

Microsoft LifeCam VX-5000
PlusesMinuses
  • Elegant and sober design
  • Image and sound quality
  • Foot
  • Compact
  • Video effects are of no interest
  • Night rendering is too dark

When used during the day the Microsoft VX-5000 offers nice image quality and precise sound via its integrated micro. Otherwise, rendering at night is a bit dark.

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25 comments
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  • vaskodogama
    does really a webcam need to be reviewd? :D
  • Gutbop
    Yeah, I think it's a great review. I just purchased a 25.5" Asus monitor with a built in 2.0MP Bright Cam. My wife got on a video conference with her friends and loved it, so now I'm looking for one for her. By the way, how do these compare with my built-in Web Cam? I can't find any specs other than the 2.0MP.
  • Gutbop
    However... It would have been nice to have a price list (there's not even a mention of price in each respective camera's review), and maybe a summary at the end showing prices and ratings. And maybe a top pick in a couple of price categories.
  • vaskodogama
    hey man! I was joking, Great article! ;)
  • Tomsguiderachel
    GutbopHowever... It would have been nice to have a price list (there's not even a mention of price in each respective camera's review), and maybe a summary at the end showing prices and ratings. And maybe a top pick in a couple of price categories.

    Hey Gutbop,

    Check the right-hand side of each page for pricing info on the units. We use a search engine to display the price results because the prices for this kind of product are so variable across retailers.

    Thanks,
    Rachel Rosmarin
    Editor of Tom's Guide
  • hellwig
    Its a shame that only a single webcam seemed to come with security software (scheduled snapshots or motion detection). However, with free software such as Yawcam, I don't suppose its too big a deal.

    While I'm sure overall image quality has improved, these new cams don't seem to be any more functional than my 9 year old logitec QuickCam Express (the white golfball webcam). Sure some have face tracking (how well does that work with limited field of view anyway?), but the overall low resolution and general lack of autofocus on most of these cameras just doesn't justify an upgrade. Although the built-in microphones might be nice, sometimes you just need voice-chat, meaning a microphone built into the webcam might be unnecessary or redundant.
  • michaelahess
    I'd like to see more photos, quality is my number one concern. Also, how will any of these work in a meeting room environment. Is it plausable to use them for conference's? I guess audio would be the biggest issue with that.
  • crystalized
    no conclusion pages ? would've been nice to see what is the best webcam available on the market, what webcam has the best price/performance ratio, etc.
  • That Creative bundles home surveillance software hardly matters - the best-of-breed (for non technical users) is HomeCamera, and that's a free download from their site (www.homecamera.com).
  • JonnyDough
    Hey, I live in a college dorm and a few of my roommates don't have a PC. My roommates aren't to enter my room without permission/unless I'm there. I'm looking for webcam software that I can use to view my room but that I can leave on the screen because my one friend can and does use my PC sometimes for writing papers. I want to see who comes in my room, especially on the weekends when I often travel home. It would be cool if it would automatically boot as well from Windows Startup in case of a crash without a splash screen. I'd like it to be able to email me motion detected snapshots or something. Anyone know of any software that will do all of this?

    ~Jonny
  • JonnyDough
    Dangit, we need an edit button. What I wanted to ask is there a program that is COMPLETELY HIDEABLE that will do all that.
  • I agree with crystalized - a summary table or conclusion would have been nice for those not wanting to read every page.
  • Thunderfox
    Reviews? On my TGH? It's less likely than you think.

    I thought all they did was opinion polls.
  • What would have been nice is two identical sample photos taken with each camera. One in proper lighting conditions and one in dark.

    Without them, the review is rather useless for me. I mean, one sample photo included cheesy video effects. How am I to compare the quality of that one to another which has a normal shot. Not to mention the ones which don't have a shot at all.
  • mitcoes16
    i do like comparative tables, with actual prices, and, of course, Mac OSX, and Linux drivers and features for this systems. I use several OSs, and i do like products compatible with all of them, and if it possible with all the features at every system.
  • mitcoes16
    i do like comparative tables, with actual prices, and, of course, Mac OSX, and Linux drivers and features for this systems. I use several OSs, and i do like products compatible with all of them, and if it possible with all the features at every system.
  • joe 90
    oops
  • joe 90
    michaelahessI'd like to see more photos, quality is my number one concern. Also, how will any of these work in a meeting room environment. Is it plausable to use them for conference's? I guess audio would be the biggest issue with that.


    Hi Michael, we use a mixture of desktop and meeting room set-ups using Nefsis Video Conferencing. We find the L'tech Pro900 is great for small rooms (we did use the L'tech Sphere but had too many issues!). For larger rooms you can a Sony evi-d70 with a frame grabber (e.g. Osprey 100 - works well). Unfortunately it seems that there is a big gulf between top end webcams and meeting room based cameras. Anyone got any other suggestions?
  • What about the HP webcam? I have one, and it is great in dark & light. Autofocus is included, along with security software, et al.
    Why miss this one???
    Its also able to do 12MP stills as well... I don't get why this was forgotten in the rush to do Logitech & Microsoft (predominantly) webcams...
  • mrcomment
    I think that quick cam pro 9000 is the best choice today. You can compare it with other webcams at http://www.coolcheapest.com/Webcams/194--Logitech_QuickCam_Pro_9000_Webcam.aspx or find other webcams at http://www.coolcheapest.com/webcams.aspx.
  • mrcomment
    I think that quick cam pro 9000 is the best choice today. You can compare it with other webcams at http://www.coolcheapest.com/Webcams/194--Logitech_QuickCam_Pro_9000_Webcam.aspx or find other webcams at http://www.coolcheapest.com/webcams.aspx
  • In response to the security software for webcams, http://www.peekeez.com offers free remote viewing of your webcam. You can also record all your video remotely on the website, but that service costs $29 per month.
  • You can find all types of fun effects and activities for your webcams at http://www.SillyWebcam.com
  • Microsoft LifeCam VX-1000
    The camera used to be good, but now it's blurry, the colour is poor and it's totally useless to Skype or other video calls. The warranty is gone and now I have a piece of garbage around which I will have to replace. I know for sure that it will not be Microsoft again. I have a Microsoft mouse with the same problem. One year and I had to replace it.