With High Definition being all the rage recently it’s no surprise that there is a demand for high definition webcams. Microsoft released their LifeCam Cinema with a 720p resolution last fall, they now carry four different models with HD capability’s. Today I will be taking a look at their LifeCam HD-5000. I will compare it to the last webcam we tested, and see if it really deserves its HD name.
Product Name: Microsoft LifeCam HD-5000
Review Sample Provided by: Microsoft
Review by: Wes
Pictures by: Wes
True 720p HD video720p sensor records true HD-quality video at up to 30 fps.
Auto FocusImages stay sharp and detailed even during close-ups.
16:9 widescreenFor cinematic video recording.
TrueColor TechnologyAutomatically controls exposure for bright and colorful video.
3-Year Limited Hardware Warranty
Optimized for Windows Live Messenger Seamlessly integrated with Windows Live Messenger for easy setup and use.
+ Windows Live™
Windows Live Movie Maker Start a movie project with one click, then upload widescreen video to social networking sites.
Windows Live Photo Gallery Easily upload a photo that you can edit, tag, and share with friends and family.
Windows Live™ Call Button It's simple to start video calls. One touch of the Windows Live Call Button lets you see who's online, and you're on your way to making a video call.
For Windows®-based PC:
Windows® 7, Windows Vista®, Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (SP2) or higher (Excluding Windows XP 64-bit); minimum: Intel Dual-Core 1.6 GHz or higher, 1 GB of RAM, 1.5 GB free of hard drive space, CD-ROM, USB 2.0, and Windows-compatible speakers or headphones; recommended: Intel Dual-Core 3.0 GHz or higher, 2 GB of RAM
Microsoft packed their LifeCam HD-5000 in a package very similar to the vx-550. This time around there isn’t a large Microsoft chat icon on the front (a small one this time around), but they did included a full view of the HD-5000 through a large window on the front. They do point out the auto focus, 720 resolution, true color, and a few messaging programs that it will work with. Around back you will find a few short descriptions of the HD-5000’s main features. Along with the description’s each has a photo showing off the feature, for example they show how well the Auto Focus will focus on a cupcake up near the camera. Inside the camera was placed in a clear plastic tray and accompanied by its manuals and software disc.
Installing the software was as simple as throwing in the disc and running it. With the software installed and ready to go I positioned the HD-5000 on top of my monitor and plugged in the USB cable. You can’t ask for a much easier installation, sometimes it just works.
The HD-5000 uses the same LifeCam software that we tested in our last webcam review. You have the ability to adjust nearly everything you can imagine including manually being able to focus the camera if needed. If you use Microsoft’s TrueColor the LifeCam software adjusts everything for you. The software also has a wide variety of effects. You can do anything from making yourself look like a member of kiss to morphing your face into weird and sometimes comical shapes.
Where this camera sets itself apart from the VX-5500 that we tested before is with the camera itself. Sure the mount is easy to use and flexible enough to be mount on a monitor just as easily as setting it up on your desk. But people want to know what the video looks like, let’s take a look.
You can see the auto focus doing its job, it’s not fast but you normally wouldn’t move a webcam around like that. When placed on your desk or monitor it does a great job of focusing directly on you, after that it shouldn’t change much. You can also see how crisp the picture looks once its focused; I had no idea my keyboard was that dirty until I got such a great look at it. The 720p resolution looks amazing, not only does it make for great video, but it takes high quality pictures. The built in microphone did an good job of picking up my voice for voice chat, it also loves to pick up noise around the room like a window A/C unit or a fan. Obviously it’s not going to be as directional as a headset, it does a good job considering the unidirectional microphone.
It’s no doubt that this is an improvement over the last webcam we had a chance to check out. The high resolution is supported by the built in auto focus to give a near perfect picture all of the time. My only complaints are the microphone picking up surrounding noises and the auto focus being a little slow. When being used normally I doubt anyone will ever notice these issues. Because of that I highly recommend you run out and pick up the LifeCam HD-5000 if you are looking for a webcam to voice chat with friends and family. Your biggest issue is going to be hiding the wrinkles that will now show up on this HD webcam.