Skype is one of the hot buzz words on the Internet right now, right up there with Britney Spears and iPod. It’s a clever move therefore for Creative to associate its latest cheap and cheerful webcam with the ubiquitous VOiP service. The Creative WebCam Instant Skype Edition, to give it its full title, does in fact work with all other messaging services from MSN, AIM and Yahoo but it’s a Skype Certified badge that adorns the box.
The resolution of the CCD is only 352 x 288, but Creative claims that it can take still at 640 x 480, though to be fair it does state on the box that this is through software interpolation. The actual resolution is 320 x 240 for video, and indeed this can be forced to 640 x 480 as well. The CD provided includes both drivers and software. You only need to install the drivers to get the cam working in Windows XP - MacOS isn’t supported. In typical Creative fashion it puts a Creative Cam Detector in your system start tray in case your PC is starting too fast.
The webcam is shaped like a half-egg type object, with the lens sat in the centre of the oval surrounded by a focus ring. A small yellow light indicates when it is plugged in via USB and powered. There’s a button built discreetly into the top used for manually taking snapshots though this only works with the supplied Creative software. It sits on a stand that when opened up enables it to hang nicely from the back of an LCD desktop or notebook screen. The eyepiece can be titled forwards and backwards and left or right so you get it pointing exactly where you want it. What it doesn’t have in any kind of automatic face tracking technology, which is hardly surprising considering the price of the package.
When the stand is closed it can sit flat on the desk, but balancing it on top of a CRT could be tricky. It’s also light weight, which makes it easy to take with you if you want to pack it in your bag along with a laptop when you go away.
Creative has supplied a white clip-on microphone if you want to use your speakers to hear the other party but if you prefer to keep your conversation private you can used the supplied earpiece with a boom microphone attached. I found this a little awkward to attach to my rather strange lug holes but it worked fine. Audio quality was sufficient though not outstanding.