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Average Customer Review:
( 17 customer reviews )
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35 of 36 found the following review helpful:
Great implementation, awful visual qualityJan 07, 2007
By Jeremy Chadwick
First off, anyone tech-savvy these days knows what end-users go through when it comes to drivers -- especially with web cameras. There have been hundreds of problems, if not in the thousands, with webcam drivers from all sorts-of vendors. Driver incompatibilities and bizarro problems (such as Logitech's DLL injection problem, which causes X Windows under Cygwin to not function -- a flaw later admitted by Logitech and fixed) are a nightmare.
As one of these users, and as a software developer who's familiar with USB classes and protocols, I was delighted to hear that Creative had come out with a camera that was driverless. The instant the camera was released in the United States, I picked one up.
The camera does in fact live up to it's driverless name -- you simply plug it into your PC, and Windows XP will find it as a standard USB Video Camera. You do not need to install control applications or any drivers -- it just *works*. By default, you can control exposure (automatic or manual), brightness, contrast, hue, gamma, sharpness, saturation, and a couple other features. Focus on this camera is done manually, via an adjustable ring around the lens.
If you want more control over the camera, such as face tracking and some additional features, you can install Creative's Optia Driver program from their website (it's about 1MByte in size). This makes the camera show up under Windows XP as a "Creative Live! Optia", and provides a pretty decent control application (not memory or CPU hungry, either). It sounds like a fantastic camera, does it not?
Yeah... until you actually examine the image quality. Visually, this camera is *awful*. I am surprised it's using a CMOS image sensor, because the camera looks horrible. Under absurdly bright lighting conditions, you get a semi-decent picture, with a lot of mosaic and anti-aliasing around the edges of objects. Adjusting the sharpness slider does not help. Under low light conditions (or even normal bedroom lighting), you get a washed-out look to your picture, and all focused objects appear almost pitch black. CMOS isn't great, but it's normally not this bad either.
Aside from the visual atrocity this camera results in, another complaint I have is with the hinge-based clip which allows the camera to sit on top of any monitor (CRT, LCD, or laptop). The hinge spring is too strong, thus if sitting on top of an LCD with a curved back (which is completly normal), the camera literally falls forward due to the strength of the spring in the clip, and falls off your monitor. I can't imagine this working on a CRT or an LCD, but a laptop it would work perfect on.
Finally, back on the positive train, the camera has fantastic swivel capabilities (even left to right), and the base of the clip has rubber on it so that it stays stable if you place it on a desk or a flat surface.
In general this camera gets 4 out of 5 stars for being driverless and living up to that claim, but gets 1 out of 5 stars for its awful visual quality. If you're looking for a camera that gives you great imaging, avoid the Optia. If you want something driverless that should work w/out any fuss (or use FreeBSD, Linux, etc.) and are willing to sacrifice quality, get this camera ASAP.
15 of 15 found the following review helpful:
OptiaJan 04, 2007
By Mark R. Bauer
I purchased this webcam based on past positive history with Creative products, and because of the lure of the "driverless" USB video class design. Despite initial installation problems, I am pleased with the product.
My initial install attempts failed due to....oops..."corrupt drivers". After several fruitless exchanges with Creative support, I found a couple smartie users in the Creative customer forums who had experienced and diagnosed the same problem. Apparently previous Logitech camera installs left behind some dreck in the Windows registry which interfered with the Creative install; a simple regedit corrected this issue. If you have not previously installed a Logitech cam, you should be OK on the install; I tested on a spare laptop and it worked fine.
After working thru the install, I have been very pleased with this camera. It is small, about two inches long by two inches high, and the included attachment gizmo works effectively to mount the camera on my IBM Thinkpad. Creative includes a carry bag and the unit would likely be useful for travelers. Also included is an inexpensive headset such that the unit could be used for video or audio chat.
The software for the unit worked fine. It includes fancy video effects which are good for a few minutes diversion but did not seem particularly useful.
Video clarity was good. Images were sharp and the light adjustment seemed adequate. I used it with Yahoo Messenger and MSN Messenger and both worked fine; the face tracking software worked OK but seemed to occassionally get confused and focus on the wall behind me. The camera swivels in the horizontal and vertical planes so I had no difficulty positioning the camera and getting a good angle.
For the current price of $69, I think this cam is a good deal. In theory, the USB video class design should mean this camera will also be compatible with both Linux and Windows Vista (I did not test either of these).
7 of 7 found the following review helpful:
With the software upgrade this camera is really goodMay 17, 2007
The software upgrade on their site improved greatly the exposure and white light balance. Great software, lots of tricks for video fun, still not the best for sending closeups of small objects, but great for all around photos and video. The focus works well, happy camper here.
5 of 5 found the following review helpful:
We love itJul 29, 2007
By S. Veen
i do not have anything to compare this web cam to, but so far, we love this thing...
we recently move 3 states away from our family and friends. So we decided to try out the web cam (along with Skype). So far we have had no problems with it at all. We even have it hooked up to a laptop via a wireless dsl connection. the image is pretty clean, although i think it would be better if we had it plugged in directly.
i haven't used it for anything other than video calls with other skype users, but it comes bundled with software that looks fun.
I would recommend this cam to anyone based solely on the video chat feature...
4 of 4 found the following review helpful:
Another excellent camera from Creative Labs.Jul 22, 2007
By Art Corvelet
I still use a Live Motion Camera from Creative and I purchased this Optia camera for my second system. It does work without any drivers, but most people will want to load the drivers for full functionality. With the latest drivers and software from the Creative site, the Optia camera produces excellent image quality especially for it's price point. The Optia is also very stylish and just looks good. The included software bundle and control software is very nice as well and includes lots of useful features. Highly recommended.
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