The Microsoft LiveCam NX-6000
When I first saw the Microsoft LifeCam NX-6000 I gasped at its incredibly small size. It's Microsoft's option for those looking for something small enough to throw in a cramped laptop bag - due to the protection offered by the retractable lens, I was able to literally toss it inside my bag without any fear of damage. For added protection, the camera also comes with a small, circular carrying case. The lens, when in its outward position, swivels up and down, but is unable to move left and right.
To place the camera on my laptop, I had to tug on the back of the camera to extend its stabilizing arm. However, the arm seemed fragile enough that it might break off after a good amount of use; Microsoft should consider swapping out the flimsy plastic for metal. If you're a Windows Live user, the camera also has a button on top that allows you to launch the program and start a call at the touch of a button, but I think this isn't needed - it's just as easy to open a desktop icon. Due to its size, I recommend not bothering to use the NX-6000 on anything but a laptop; it simply does not rest well on top of CRT or LCD monitors, unless you plan on just letting it sit there on its own, where it is free to get knocked around.
The picture quality and video were the among the best I found in the entire roundup, second only to the Logitech QuickCam Ultra Vision. Video was sharp, lacking blur and full of vibrant colors. On the other hand, I found that the camera produced grainy video, depending on the amount of light at hand. In Skype, the quality decreased drastically - I found a lot of orange, yellow and red hues in the video, and a lot more grain. During a Skype call to Italy, the receiving end had this to say about the call: "clear picture one minute, breaks up the screen. Looks like a mosaic". After my standard tests, it was upsetting to see the drastic loss of quality I had originally been pleased with.
The viewing angle remained as it had been, very wide. In the dark, the camera did not hold up very well, and I appeared to nearly be in black and white. The microphone fared well, and did not produce any noticeable echoes during my tests. The Microsoft software isn't anything spectacular: you can snap high-quality photos, record high-quality video, and record audio. Not much else to it.
Overall, I enjoyed reviewing the Microsoft LifeCam NX-6000. It's small enough to slip into a pocket, and powerful enough to create awesome video. I wish, however, that it could hold its high-quality video during a Skype phone call. A webcam like this would be best used to record videos for YouTube, not for streaming across the net during a video-based Internet phone call.