Digital webcam

Acer's DC300 is a sleek-looking device, combining the functions of a digital webcam with a video and stills camera. It's incredibly light and thin, and the svelte 88x18x57mm proportions and 75g weight mean it really does slip into the pocket unnoticed. It comes with 8MB of onboard memory and a maximum resolution of 640x480 (about one-third of a megapixel), and you can store 128 shots.

Hardware functions are kept to a minimum though it does sport a small LCD. You can't view pictures but it lets you know the number of shots taken, battery life and shooting mode used - including a self-timer and macro shot option. Installation via the bundled USB cable is confusing; in effect, it has to be installed twice. The PC initially recognises the DC300 as a video cam device, then the user has to press the power button for a couple of seconds and the install wizard will automatically recognise the device as a digital camera, too.

Webcam capabilities depend on how good the software is, and the Presto bundle is reasonably flexible - the only exception being the limited photography management package called MR Photo. That said, stills can be captured while tethered to the PC and opened directly into MR Photo, thanks to Twain support. Video mode capture runs at 30 frames per second and resolutions can be increased to 640x480, but the best results are at 176x144. Naturally, there's software support for video conferencing. Our only concern was the lack of a base to weigh down the DC300 when it's being used with a PC; because it's light and thin, it has to be precariously balanced.

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Spencer Dalziel

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