Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Are Microsoft's newest webcams the last of a dying breed?

Microsoft today has announced the pricing and upcoming availability of its LifeCam VX-5000 Windows Live-optimized webcam.

Expected to reach the market in June, the VX-5000 features a dedicated Windows Live Call button, which allows Windows Live Messenger users one-touch access to their "Contact Picker" (i.e. buddy list.) The included LifeCam Dashboard acts within Windows Live Messenger, allowing pan, tilt, 3x digital zoom, face tracking, and video effects to be used in-call.

Additionally, the VX-5000 supports MSN Photo Swap, which now allows users to trade still photos during video calls.

The 640 x 480 VGA camera with 1.3 megapixel still picture capability will retail for an estimated $49.95.

Are Microsoft's newest webcams the last of a dying breed?

External webcams are practically a thing of the past, with an increasing number of low-end notebooks offering built-in cameras with comparable functionality. Intel's Classmate PC, for example, which is in the ULCPC class of computers, (deliberately low-power and cheap) offers a 640 x 480 .3M webcam. A few years ago, a built-in camera was a premium feature.

Considering the shrinking camera footprint -- as evidenced by

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