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LifeCam Studio Review

October 6, 2014

Webcams have come a long way since the old days of 360p. Today you can get yourself some pretty nice HD webcams capable of 720p video chat through various programs such as skype and windows live messenger. There are also webcams capable of recording full 1080p with supported software.

Today we’re looking at the LifeCam Studio from Microsoft. The industrial design is very attractive with it’s brushed aluminum main housing with black accents. In the box you get the camera, a lens cover, documentation. I have to give it to Microsoft, their packaging is environmentally friendly using all recyclable cardboard.

The camera has a flexible mount allowing you to install it on the thinnest of laptop screens and even on TVs. As a bonus the mount even has threading so it can be installed atop a standard tripod or can simply be set on the desk because of the mount’s flat bottom. The cable, while a little stiff,  is more than long enough and includes a built in cable management clip making it easy to keep any unused cord neat and tidy. The lens cover is a nice bonus and can be clipped around the cord to prevent losing it. However, I wish it held more securely to to the camera itself. If you’re planning on using this camera as an on the go device the cover will easily fall off once thrown into a bag. The camera itself looks and feels high quality with a call accept button on the top along with a built in microphone and a blue indicator light.

Sadly the webcam is capped at 720p due to video chat program limitations which is a big bummer for those who were hoping to video chat in 1080p. Just as bad the software included with the camera only supports 720p video recording which defeats the purpose of buying a 1080p camera you think you would be able to record at 1080p right out of the box instead of having to find various software that will capture 1080p content from the camera.

We were able to get 1080p recording going using OBS and I have to say the video quality is ok for a webcam but the blurring from motion is pretty noticeable and while fine for video chatting(in 720p) and ok for family videos it’s not something you want if you’re looking to upload videos to youtube that contain any amount of medium to fast motion. The webcam constantly tries to find its focus which can result in noticable small zoom ins and outs and while it constantly makes sure it’s in focus it’s slow to actually find focus once the scene changes. Recording at 1080p also hogs a lot of cpu resources so if you’re on a pretty low end laptop expect to have to turn off most other running programs to keep your fan noise down.

Speaking of fan noise the integrated mic pics up a ton of background noise which can be good or bad depending on who you ask and what you’re wanting to do with this webcam. It’s good if you let’s say have the camera atop a TV and wanting to chat while on the couch a few feet away. However it’s bad if you’re a game streamer or a youtuber who has background noise and don’t want it picked up.

One last note, this thing gets pretty hot. Not hot enough to burn or injure you but it sure does get pretty warm and may concern someone new to the device. All in all this webcam is ok, for a webcam, otherwise I wouldn’t use this if you’re wanting to make more professional looking youtube videos as you would get better quality video from any decent point and shoot camera.

Pros:

  • Looks fantastic
  • Built in mic
  • Cable management clip and lens cover
  • Tripod mountable
  • 1080p

Cons:

  • Lens cap easily falls off camera when put into a bag
  • Video chat programs are limited to 720p
  • Bundled software limited to 720p
  • Mic can be too sensitive
  • Motion blur and slow response
  • 1080p recording is a resource hog

Conclusion, the webcam is ok but if you’re solely going to use it for video chatting it’s little brother the LifeCam Cinema 720p would be a better and cheaper option. If you’re planning on using it for vlogging then this camera would be suitable if you want 1080p quality. However if you’re looking at making higher quality youtube videos a slightly more expensive point and shoot would be for you.

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