I think I'm safe saying we all take it as given that every laptop in the world has a built-in webcam by now. Thanks to Samsung, we could soon have the same blasé attitude to HD-capable webcams as the company has announced a 1/4in, 1.2MP sensor capable of recording 1,280 x 720 video.
The inspiringly names S5K4AW boasts a 1,280 x 960 resolution and uses a binning process for recording VGA (640 x 480) video (at 60fps), whereby each of those pixels data is averaged from two on-sensor pixels. Samsung claims an almost-three times sensitivity improvement thanks to this binning technique, as well as boasting an improvement in image quality as no cropping or resizing of the recorded video is needed to create a VGA picture.
On the HD front, Samsung's sensor boasts 720p recording at 30fps which should be more than good enough for most. While such a capability isn't exactly new for a webcam in general, the relatively tiny size of Samsung's sensor and, thus, its ability to be integrated into a notebook or desktop monitor bezel makes it pretty interesting.
Mass production is scheduled for the first half of 2009, so expect to see Samsung laptops launching thereafter boasting 720p webcams as part of their feature sets.