The Logitech QuickCam UltraVision
The Logitech QuickCam Ultra Vision was the cream of the crop of my webcam roundup in terms of visual clarity and color. That said, the software included with the QuickCam was very basic, and can only be used to snap pictures and record video.
The great video quality can be attributed to the five lenses the camera uses, as well as the RightLight 2 technology which adjusts the lighting of the webcam automatically while it is in use. The cam's ability to correct for dim light, backlighting and sidelighting was astounding - even in total darkness, the camera was able to display an acceptable image that did not get lost in the shadows. For example, where most cameras would totally dim the background, this camera was still able to take it in, showing the soft glow of objects behind me reflecting the light from my monitor. Because of the RightLight 2 technology, however, the video would sometimes have a slightly blue tint to it. Logitech advertises the camera's video as being "True to Life", and after testing all of the cameras, the Logitech QuickCam UltraVision certainly stood up to its claim by being the closest camera to keeping the video "True to Life".
One thing that drove me nuts about this camera was the design of the clamp used to stabilize the camera to my monitor. It's a rubber-flex grip that bends in order to grasp on, which would normally suit my needs just fine. The problem is that the QuickCam was by far the heaviest of all the cameras I tested, and its weight would often cause the camera to be front-heavy. We'd like to see Logitech adapt the foot-design of the Creative Live! Cam Optia, which featured my preferred mode of camera stabilization. The QuickCam can only rotate slightly upwards, and slightly downwards, but not side to side. Luckily, though, the camera has a fantastic viewing range, so the right-left movement was not entirely necessary.
Of the five cams I tested, the Logitech QuickCam UltraVision was my favorite. It's pricy, but when it comes down to talking via video on the Internet, the exceptional microphone and video quality won my heart. To me, the price was worth the results I got with the UltraVision.
I went into this review wanting to include some lower end webcams as well, but I found that webcams with a lot of options, both software and video, were found mostly in the mid-range and high-range market Compare Prices on Logitech QuickCam.
If you're looking for a lot of software options, then we'd point you toward the Creative webcams, as they both had the ability to stream to the web and detect motion (though I never did receive an e-mail warning me of intruders), in addition to their picture snapping and video capturing qualities. Oddly, the quality of the Creative Live Cam Optia! surpassed that of the Creative Live! Cam Voice, so we'd have to recommend going with the Optia!. For its price, the Creative Live! Optia was the best all-around option and was only surpassed in quality by the more expensive Logitech QuickCam UltraVision. For notebooks, I tested the Microsoft NX-6000 and was pleasantly surprised by the quality and power of such a small device, but we're still dumbfounded as to why Microsoft didn't carry over the technology to their desktop version, which disappointed us.