Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Microsoft LifeCam Cinema goes 720p

The humble webcam hasn't changed much over the past couple of years with most models topping out at about 2 Megapixels, but it now seems like Microsoft is about to change this with the soon to launch LifeCam Cinema.

This is the first consumer webcam to support 720p video at 30fps. That's the full 1,280x720, unlike some other attempts at so called HD video for some 2 Megapixel webcam's that only managed 960x720 which isn't really HD.

Other features include a glass lens, auto focus, 4x digital zoom and a digital, noise-cancelling microphone that is mounted on the top of the camera. Microsoft has also implemented what it calls ClearFrame technology which is meant to deliver smooth, detailed video, although we're not quite sure what this does.

The body of the LifeCam Cinema is made out of aluminium and the stand works with both desktop PCs and notebooks. There's also a Windows Live call button mounted behind the microphone and the LifeCam Cinema does of course connect to your computer via USB 2.0.

The LifeCam Cinema is of course compatible with Windows Live Messenger, but also with Windows Live Movie Maker and Windows Live Photo Gallery. It's also compatible with Windows 7 out of the box, as well as Windows Vista and Windows XP. The system requirements are quite high though, as you need at least a dual core 1.6GHz processor, but Microsoft recommends a 3GHz dual core processor and 2GB of memory, which are unusually high specifications for a webcam.

It's important to remember that the 720p resolution might not work with some video call client and we're currently uncertain which applications it will work with.

The LifeCam Cinema is expected to hit retail on the 9 of September with a suggested retail price of around £69.99 ($79.99 in the US) which places it in the upper end of the webcam market.