Beyond Web Cameras
By Seow Tein Hee
If one were to think about it, web cameras (webcams) are not so different from compact digital cameras. So the question is: why aren't there more webcams that push the high megapixel count like what's seen in compact cameras? The answer is right before us today.
The new Prolink 8-megapixel webcam goes beyond the boundary, showing us what it's capable of during our time with it.
Fortunately, though they've raised the numbers on the imaging sensor, the device's size doesn't increase proportionally. The PCC8020A sits snugly on top of a ball-jointed base that opens up to latch onto your notebook or LCD monitor. Not a fan of the latch? Clamp up the latch, and it'll form a base that'll keep the camera standing upright on a flat surface.
The PCC8020A also comes with an integrated microphone that sits inconspicuously beside the camera lens. Further along the device, we spotted the snapshot button, and we believe the name says it all. But what you might want to take note of, is that this button activates the camera, and captures snapshots at resolutions up to 3200 x 2560, which translates to an 8-megapixel equivalent.
I Spy with my Prolink
Web cameras aren't what they used to be, with more features packed into that small body. This is especially true with the PCC8020A, with a suite of bundled software. This includes the VP-EYE 6.0 program which provides quick access to the webcam features.
Switching between the various 320 x 240, 640 x 480 and 1280 x 1024 resolutions, it was apparent that auto focusing is an issue here. At lower resolutions, both the auto focusing speed and the frequency of it happening is significantly lower than its higher resolution counterparts. Don't expect great imaging results even at the highest resolution, as we've seen a significant amount of noise generated in the pictures.
Useful for the moments when you need to keep a watchful eye on the baby's movements, the PCC8020A actually allows you to preset the motion sensor to various sensitivity levels. Even a slight movement can trigger a preset alarm that gets your attention back to the screen.
Or, if it's for a more clandestine reason such as monitoring the kids' movements, the PCC8020A can record both images and videos for the evidence you need in confronting your kids for their mischief. Other than its motion sensor features, face tracking is bundled as part of the package. However, it wasn't exactly foolproof, seeing as how the camera actually went ahead to focus on objects with an asymmetrical shape, mistaking it as a face.
Closing the Case
If we had our say, calling the Prolink PCC8020A just a webcam would be doing it an injustice. Putting aside the fact that it comes with motion sensing features to record both images and videos for monitoring purposes, one must remember that Prolink did put in the effort to bump up the imaging sensor to a decent level for higher resolution images.
Nonetheless, it won't be dethroning any dedicated 8-megapixel compact cameras, not with the noise levels generated. But if that doesn't faze you and you're in the market for a decent webcam, the S$88 price tag might suit you just fine.