Creative Live! Cam Vista IM
This is the least expensive model in the Creative Live! Cam series, which is reflected in the contents of the kit. Instead of a handsfree headset you can only find a clip-on microphone here. The potential buyer is supposed to have headphones or a speaker system to hear the sound (headphones are preferable because they help avoid the acoustic feedback that shows up as a characteristic loud hiss).
The camera’s fastening mechanism allows to install it on the edge of an LCD monitor as well as on the flat surface of a desk. Being rather light, the camera can topple over on the desk due to the stiffness of the USB cord. The Cam Vista IM is joined to its stand by means of a hinge connection which has two degrees of freedom: the lens can be turned around by 360 degrees horizontally and by 60 degrees vertically.
The Cam Vista IM is equipped with a VGA CMOS sensor with a resolution of 640x480 pixels (without interpolation) and a refresh rate of 15fps. The camera’s very simple lens has a ring for manual focusing. The output image proves to be muddy, not sharp at the borders of the frame. You can have a look at the shot of a special chart made with the tested camera:
I have no complaints about the quality of color reproduction. The camera reproduces both warm and cold colors acceptably well.
The key feature of the Creative Live! Cam Vista IM is its low price, about $30. This makes it suitable for use in a classroom as well as a means to try the capabilities of Internet-based audio/video communication for the first time. Let’s see what advantages you can get by adding 50% more money and buying the next camera from Creative’s model range.