Other Webcams we've tested, like the Logitech C310, offer a few carnival filters and graphical overlays, but Creative definitely put the most thought into the user experience, and we had a lot of fun playing around with the visual effects.
As you can see from the shots we've included, the camera accurately tracks your face in the lens for the placement of accessories like headgear, mustaches, hats, and glasses. We especially enjoyed combining effects categories to create hilarious scenarios, and our chat partner had no problem seeing all the distortions over several programs, including Google Chat and Skype. Only one person needs to have the Creative software installed in order to have fun, but it's obviously more entertaining if both parties are so equipped.
In addition to all the visual effects, you can toggle voice controls that change your voice to sound like a robot, a Munchkin, an excited teenager, a depressed teenager, an old man, and more. We wish the software had an easier way for us to preview the voices, but it looks like the only way to do that is to record a short video of yourself and play it back--no big deal, but a little tedious.
The last unique feature that stands out is the desktop share button that you can toggle to display your entire desktop, or you can specify a smaller window square that you can use to scroll over custom areas on your screen.
The picture and sound quality are what we'd expect from a $60 Web camera. As we stated earlier, you should shy away from the highest-quality 4,384x2,466-pixel resolution video setting unless you're running an especially powerful computer or are willing to risk hiccups in the video, but aside from that our chat partner reported no lag. We did notice a slight yellow hue in the video that we suspect is more a symptom of the fluorescent lighting in our test lab. The HD sensor works well in low-light scenarios, and the autofocusing lens captures multiple faces with clarity and sharp picture quality.
The $70 is a fair price for a Webcam that offers the additional in-chat features of the Creative Live Cam Socialize HD AF Webcam. Beyond the hardware, the fluid wide-screen video shots and the fun media extensions you get with the Live Central 3 software give it more than just vanity appeal. If you don't already own a computer with a camera built in, we recommend the Creative Live Cam Socialize HD AF Webcam.
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