June 2011 Paul McCollum
Creative is launching a new model of webcam with brains. No, it’s not the zombie apocalypse or the robot uprising, though it could be the best thing that’s happened to webcams since Chatroulette. Creative’s Live inPerson HD webcam does 720p video and handles the encoding with specialized on-board processors. The dedicated H.264 HD encoding processors take a load off of your old laptop or underpowered net-book. As a result, video will be crisper and crashes will be less frequent as your PC spends less effort on video compression.
It should be no surprise that Creative, something a household name in sound, put some time into the audio side of the equation too. A four piece microphone array is said to clean up audio for unprecedented ease in movement while broadcasting. The current leader in the video chat space Skype, tired of getting a bad rap from tired computers not being able to send clear video, has started to certify webcams for quality control. The Creative Live inPerson Webcam already has Skype blessing to begin with. There’s actually only a very short list of Skype-certified video devices on the market as one of the requirements is having built-in hardware H.264 encoder.
Not for the casual user, the new webcam levies a hefty toll on the extra horsepower at $149. The hope would be that you will save money versus upgrading your whole PC to get better video calls. Watch for the first reviews to see if it balances in Creative’s favor.