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13 Webcams Reviewed

Creative Labs Live! Cam Optia Pro

Webcam Center

The included WebCam Center software enables you to do surveillance on your cozy apartment when you are away, for example, to see if there arent any mice that come out, the children are not watching TV instead of doing their homework, etc. The camera will upload the images captured by itself at regular intervals (from 1 second to several hours) and then all can be accessed online.

You can also opt for an automatic alert. If the camera detects movement, it will send you an email with an attached photo. This means avoiding surveillance on an empty apartment where there is no activity.

In addition, the accompanying software provided enables you to make up to 1.3 Mpixel videos although it uses software interpolation. The only problem is that you will be limited by the length of the peripherals cable.

We have already tested the two most recent Optia models. The first version received a good deal of criticism.  The second added improvements, so it will be tough for the Optia Pro to beat it.

This webcam still has the same elegant design, face tracking, automatic focus, microphones that are supposed to eliminate background noise, etc. With a resolution of 1.3 MPixels, the  quality of the sensor is somewhere between that of the first and second Optia models.

Only the color has been changed.
 
The three webcams have exactly the same look but differ in color. 

The three webcams have exactly the same shape, but differ in color.  But be careful: the difference in quality between the mediocre Optia and Optia AF and this Webcam is radical.

  For the Optia Pro, the manufacturer chose gray in order to symbolize the mid-range.

Light and compact, the LiveCam Optia Pro features an attractive design.  Its gray, glossy body and almost transparent base give it a lightweight look, which saves the entirely plastic-finished Webcam from looking cheap.

Another very positive point is the fixation system.  It’s rare to find a webcam that is well suited for all types of screens, even when the manufacturer says it is.  Here, we didn’t have any problem.  Not only is the system well conceived, it functions perfectly.
 
One last favorable design point: the webcam pivots horizontally up to 270° which can be quite practical in some situations.
 
Image quality at night should be fixed.

 
During the day, the Optia Pro has no problems.  The image is very reactive and doesn’t lack detail.  Also, colors are well rendered.  Our second area of evaluation is based on how the webcam does in a poorly lit environment, and here the Optia Pro does have trouble.  With automatic settings, the image is very dark (as it was with the first version of this webcam). When we move into manual mode to increase gain and exposure, the image rate falls.  At this point, we couldn’t move too much otherwise the entire screen would become covered with afterglow.

The Optia Pro has two microphones which are supposedly optimized for the reduction of ambient noise.   We wanted to verify this, and discovered the voice of the speaker is indeed recognizable.   There wasn’t the impression that someone was speaking from the back of a cave (sound reproduction that is often encountered in the microphone portion of our tests), and there was no saturation.  As for background noise, we could slightly hear the PC and its fan but there was no blowing or shrill sounds.

The unit also ships with a seperate attachable microphone with earphones.

Creative Labs Live! Cam Optia Pro
PlusesMinuses
  • Plug and Play
  • Very good rendering during the day
  • Design and ergonomics (the fixation system)
  • Numerous additional applications
  • Night time rendering
  • Bulky
  • During the day, this webcam offers nice rendering. On the other hand, for those that have poor lighting in the room, they should opt for the Optia AF which offers superior quality in this type of situation.