Webcam Roundup

Creative Live! Cam Optia

Creative Live! Cam Optia

The results from Creative's Live! Cam Optia surprised us, as it is a mid-range camera just under the company's Creative Live! Voice (reviewed above). I found the camera quality to be better than the Live! Voice, and that's probably because of its ability to adjust the clarity of the webcam using a front dial on the camera. The Optia's base was, by far, my favorite; it rested perfectly on top of my LCD display, and also has an underside with an arm that hinges out, like the Live! Did. This allows the camera to be able to be supported on thinner displays, like laptops. Unfortunately, however, the camera only swivels up and down, not left and right.

The Optia has software similar to that of the Live!, in that it also has support for picture capture, remote monitoring, motion detection and time lapse video. I found the picture quality to be much clearer and crisper and the colors truer than on the Live! Cam Voice. However, the camera displays a lot of yellow colors in the background, and exaggerates them so much that it often tints other things yellow as well. Up close, my face came in sharp and clear, with just a little jaggedness apparent on the edges.

Another great feature of this camera is the ability to tweak the settings during a Skype phone call with the included "Live! View" software. This was an option I wasn't able to find in any of the other cameras; it allowed me to make corrections in the middle of a video-call.

The camera has some faults, however. The picture can get grainy, depending on your light source, and in the dark, my face was distorted due to the strong, dark blacks produced by the camera. Normally this is a good thing, but here the blacks were so dark that it often made normal shadows black, and destroyed other colors. The Optia does not have a microphone included on the unit, but Creative ships it with headphones and a microphone included.

Overall, I preferred this camera to the more expensive, higher-end Creative Live! Cam Voice. While background colors were hued to the yellow side - even after hue adjustments - the video was crisp enough to display clear facial features, while maintaining acceptable and generally lag-free frame rates. I was pleasantly surprised by this camera, and recommend it over the more expensive Creative Live! Cam Voice.