Creative Labs Live! Ultra for Notebooks
- 76º camera angle; Compact yet highly durable construction.
- Inaccuracy of “Face tracking” feature, Software needs a few refinements.
The Creative Ultra! Live for Notebooks is a well-built, durable webcam aimed at style-conscious laptop users. However, we look forward to future, more refined releases of the Creative software.
Price$ 169.95 (AUD)
The Creative Live! Ultra for Notebooks holds a lot of potential, boasting excellent construction, portable design, adequate 'extras', and two unique features - a wide 76º camera angle, and 'face tracking' technology. However, this little webcam just needs a few small refinements to make it a five star product.
The Live! Ultra for Notebooks is equipped with a 640x480 pixel CCD sensor, allowing for high quality imaging in a range of lighting conditions. Owing to its USB2 capabilities, video may be captured at up to 30fps at the CCD's maximum resolution easily providing for broadband videoconferences. Still shots may be taken at up to 1280x960 through software enhancement. Of course, these specs are complemented by the impressive 76º camera-angle, which capably captures a standard-sized room in luscious detail.
Physical construction is similarly comprehensive - a solid clip attaches the camera to an LCD screen (or anything under approximately 13mm), and the lens rotates firmly through 180º, allowing easy repositioning without the fear of being broken. A boom-based microphone headset is also included. The Live! Ultra for Notebooks was built with an on-the-go user in mind, yet - just in case this wasn't enough - a soft draw-string bag is provided for safe storage of this impressive little unit and its headset.
The software bundle includes ArcSoft video and image editing/compilation programs, webcam drivers and Creative's "Webcam Center" (sic). The Creative software offers a complete set of features, such as remote monitoring (via FTP or saving appropriate files to disk), time-lapse recording and motion detection. Overall, these work effectively and as expected, despite occasional instability and a few unintuitive workings. Finally, the camera drivers tie cleanly into popular instant messaging programs, with its advanced options available from within the IM.
We were was keen to try the 'face tracking' feature - quite a selling point in our opinion. However, we were disappointed to find it appears to have a mind of its own and was intent on broadcasting a close-up of the ceiling lights. The documentation promises a solution through careful adjustment of settings, however the latest software update (available online) has curiously removed menu-access to this feature (as well as the still-image editing capabilities). Ultimately, the software is quite capable and feature-filled; simply not quite as refined as some available alternatives.
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