And so the pattern begins: Enter. Market. Dominate.
Now this might not be the most interesting announcement you’ll hear all year but given that Microsoft tends to dominate most markets it chooses to enter then makers of webcams beware…
”Seeing your grandchild’s first steps from miles away. Sharing your traveling experiences with friends back home. Keeping in touch with old school friends from years ago. Those are the moments and experiences that will become the hallmark of Microsoft LifeCam”. Yeah right, for the first time Gates’ bunch is stepping into the sector of sordid chat rooms and murky lighting.
The result is two new models, the VX-6000 and VX-3000 which (s)dumb down(/s) simplify the already (s)stupidly easy(/s) intuitive technology for (s)simpleminded(/s) technically illiterate (s)sexually frustrated(/s) sociable folk.
Both provide a dedicated ‘Windows Live Call Button’ on the top of each cam. This shortcut brings up a list of a user’s online buddies and from here they simply select a contact’s name to begin a video call. In case using a mouse proves troublesome Microsoft has also integrated the panning, tilting and zoom functions onto the exterior of the cams so “user’s attention stays where it should be – on their video conversation”. This is a great reason because turning your head to grope at your hardware is so much more intuitive than clicking similar buttons in and around your actual video conference software… Finally ‘One touch blogging’ does exactly what it suggests providing immediate access to your Windows Live Space, though typically not to rival sites.
As for the differences between the two, the VX-6000 is capable of 1.3 megapixel video and five megapixel (heavily) interpolated stills while it also sports a 3x digital zoom. The VX-3000 has a more standard spec with VGA video and 1.3 megapixel interpolated stills and lacks any zoom functionality. Furthermore, both models feature a built in acoustic noise cancelling microphone which is not to be sniffed at and ‘fun’ video effects such as falling snowflakes and twinkling stars though the company rejected my ideas for ‘realistic backgrounds’ such as a dirty motel room, dark street corner and strip bar.
The VX-6000 and VX-3000 flop onto shelves in August with retail prices of £79.99 and £39.99 respectively. For the life of me I can’t see what is wrong with a dirty motel room background…