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How to buy Best HD Webcams 2014

What's the best webcam for you? Despite laptops having built-in webcams these days, desktop PCs don't have this luxury. So, if you want to buy the best webcam for video calling using Skype or Google Talk, look no further - we've rounded up five of the best HD webcams to find out which one has the best set of features including sound and image quality. And, what's more, they're not as expensive as you'd think.

On this page we look at:

  • High definition webcams
  • Video conferencing with webcams
  • Brands and models tested
  • How we test
  • 1- High definition

    While many computers now come with a web camera, or webcam, integrated into the frame of the monitor, it generally offers a lower quality than what you can get from a standalone device. What’s more, the latest webcams can now support high definition video, recording in both 720p and 1080p resolutions. The benefits of high definition are obvious. Higher quality video, with plenty of definition and clarity make the viewing experience much more enjoyable. For all intents and purposes though, the benefits of 1080p over 720p are negligible for webcams, thanks to small image sensors and relatively cheap lenses. While we tested the 1080p functionality of the compatible webcams, the 1080p performance wasn’t taken into account in the final scores. Processing high definition video requires some grunt in your computer hardware, especially for 1080p. So while all the webcams on test have minimum specifications for basic use, the specs required for HD recording are a little bit higher. If you’re serious about recording high definition video, making sure your computer is up to the job is your first task. And while most HD webcams come with some basic software that allows you to record and edit high definition video, none of the programs supplied are truly up to the task of detailed video editing, although a quick Google search will show there are plenty of third party solutions available. For our testing, we used the software that was provided.

    2- Video conferencing

    It’s not just video sharing applications like YouTube that can take advantage of a high definition webcam. Applications like Skype or Windows Live Messenger, which allow people to video conference anywhere in the world for free, can also take advantage of the superior audio and video quality inside standalone HD webcams. Now that ISPs are introducing broadband plans with higher speeds and data allowances all the time, high definition video conferencing is the way of the future. The Australian government is even hinging its message for the National Broadband Network around the idea of HD video conferencing for telecommuting, telemedicine and education . It’s important to note that in many cases, free video conferencing software only has limited high definition support. But even for services that don’t support HD at all, the superior lens and sensors on HD webcams will still generally offer an improvement in image quality, as we found when testing with the standard settings while making Skype calls.

    3- Brands and models tested

    buy now

    Creative Live! Cam Connect HD 720p Webcam
    • Skype certified for HD 720p video calls at up to 30 fps
    • H.264 video encoder compresses video streams without compromising on image quality and utilizing PC system resources, thus delivering smooth and fast video
    • LiquidCrystal auto focus lens uses patented technology to transform a simple liquid crystal (LC) cell into a variable focus lens, without introducing mechanical noise that might be picked up by the webcam?s microphone
    • Eliminate background sounds for clearer voice chat with the noise-canceling microphone
    • Live! Central 3 with integrated surveillance software to help you monitor your home, kids and business remotely from your mobile phone and PC
    • Capture, record, edit and share Full HD 1080p quality video with smaller file sizes via built-in H.264 compression
    • Crystal clear voice transmission with quad microphones and advanced noise cancelling and beam forming technologies
    • Enjoy HD 720p video chats with most major Instant Messaging services
    • Hardware video processor makes streaming high quality HD video possible over the web
    • Skype Certified for the best HD video and voice quality

    Logitech HD Pro Webcam C910
    • Full HD 1080p video recording and smooth HD 720p video calling with Logitech Fluid CrystalTM Technology; 1-click video uploading to Facebook and YouTube
    • Fluid HD 720p video calling with Logitech More HD Technology
    • 5 MP HD sensor, precision Carl Zeiss lens, autofocus and intelligent auto light correction for crystal clear video and brilliant 10 MP photos
    • Dual built-in noise-cancelling mics let friends hear you in rich, clear HD-quality stereo
    • Works with Logitech VidTM HD, SkypeTM, Yahoo® Messenger, Microsoft LiveTM Messenger

    Microsoft LifeCam Studio 1080p HD Webcam (Q2F-00013)
    • 1080p HD widescreen sensor - For superior sharpness and image quality.
    • Advanced high-precision optics - Auto focus, high-precision glass element lens
    • Clear, high-quality video - TrueColor Technology automatically delivers bright and colorful video, in virtually all lighting conditions. ClearFrame Technology for smooth, detailed video
    • High-fidelity microphone - For more natural, detailed audio.

    Logitech HD Portable 1080p Webcam C615 with Autofocus (960-000733)
    • Full 1080p HD video recording and fluid 720p HD video calling in 16:9 wide-screen
    • Dazzling 8 MP photos
    • Auto Focus for extreme close-ups
    • 360-degree full motion rotational camera, fold-and-go portability and tripod-ready base
    • Works with PC and Mac

    Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000 for Business
    • True 720p HD Video - Post true HD video to online video sites.
    • 16:9 Widescreen - For cinematic video recording.
    • Clear, High Quality Video
    • Noise Cancelling Microphone - Crystal-clear audio and built-in unidirectional microphone with acoustic noise cancellation.
    • Universal Attachment Base - Work on your desktop, laptop, or notebook.

    Microsoft LifeCam HD-6000 720p HD Webcam for Notebooks - Black
    • Auto Focus.
    • 16:9 Widescreen - For cinematic video recording.
    • TrueColor Technology
    • Notebook design with 360-degree rotation.
    • True 720p HD video
    • HD-quality video at up to 30 fps.

    Microsoft LifeCam Cinema 720p HD Webcam - Black
    • Auto Focus.
    • 720p HD widescreen video - 720p sensor captures true HD quality video at up to 30 fps.
    • World-class optics - Auto focus, high-precision glass element lens
    • Clear, high-quality video - TrueColor Technology automatically delivers bright and colorful video, in virtually all lighting conditions. ClearFrame Technology for smooth, detailed video
    • Crystal-clear audio - Digital, noise-canceling microphone helps improve speech quality
    • Aluminum body
    • Flexible stand for notebook and desktop PCs

    Logitech 960-000921 TV Cam HD for Skype Calls on HDTVs
    • Auto Focus.
    • 720p HD widescreen video - 720p sensor captures true HD quality video at up to 30 fps.
    • HD TV Cam with Skype: Connect face-to-face with anyone on Skype from your HDTV to their smartphone, laptop, tablet or HDTV
    • HDTV-ready: Ready to use with simple plug-in to your HDMI port, plus integrated Skype and Wi-Fi connectivity

    Logitech Broadcaster Wi-Fi Webcam for HD Video Streaming, Calling, Recording - Black (960-000854)
    • The world's first Wi-Fi webcam: Highly versatile handheld wireless web camera for Mac, iPad and iPhone
    • One-touch live broadcasting: Stream your band, show or lecture directly to Ustream, one of the world's most popular video streaming site
    • Multi-view video calling: Effortlessly switch scenes on Skype between your built-in Mac webcam and the aim-anywhere Broadcaster
    • Dual camera recording: Capture multiple angles simultaneously from Broadcaster and your built-in Mac webcam, then edit video on your Mac or iPad in iMovie or Final Cut Pro
    • Pro-quality HD video: Premium optics, digital zoom/pan/tilt, built-in mic, jack for a pro mic for even better audio pick-up, camera stand and tripod-ready base

    4- How we test

    All webcams are tested using the same Core i7 Acer Travelmate PC in the same location on the same day to be as consistent as possible with lighting conditions and computer performance. Overall performance is rated on a both performance and ease of use. Performance: Measuring the tilt and rotation angles of the webcam and the stability of the attachment to the computer screen. Analysing the number of frames per second (FPS) and the bitrate (in Mbit/s) recorded in a short video at 720p resolution. Comparing the colour on a captured still to a basic colour wheel printout. Testing video and audio delay in a video conference situation using Skype, and testing the audio quality of a recorded video. Because only two webcams included the ability to record at 1080p, this wasn’t factored into the overall performance scores. Ease of use: Testing how easy it is to attach to the computer screen, how easy it is to take a still image and a video, how simple it is to share videos via email or social networking sites, and checking how difficult it is to set up security features like motion detection. In each case, the included (or recommended) software was used to test the camera’s performance, although there are plenty of webcam software alternatives.

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