Microsoft LifeCam Studio review: A hi-def webcam for business or pleasure

You can use this high-end LifeCam for a variety of purposes.

Billed as the top dog of Microsoft’s LifeCam line, the LifeCam Studio ($100 MSRP, currently available from Amazon for $55) pulls out all the stops: 1080p video, Skype certification, and an eye-catching durable design. It mostly lives up to its high-end promise, too, ranking near the top of the heap, with a few caveats.

In keeping with its line-leading status, the Life Cam Studio sports a tony design in black and silver aluminum. The barrel-style camera features a petal lens hood to reduce unwanted light above and below the glass lens, and the rubberized mount flexes rather than hinges to conform around displays. It also has a threaded hole at the bottom for tripod mounting. A small mono mic is integrated into the top-back end of the camera.

With a 75-degree field of view, the camera provides a bit of wiggle room in the frame without you having to move it. Should you need to, though, it rotates 360 degrees—180 degrees in either direction—so you can change the camera angle without having to detach it from your display.

lifecam studio side view

The LifeCam Studio’s versatile mount allows for attachment to displays or a tripod.

Given the camera’s smart looks, it was a little disappointing to find that its specs weren’t quite so pleasing. The Life Cam Studio is advertised as delivering 1080p HD video recording. What this means, however, is that it boasts a 1080p sensor, but you can’t actually take advantage of it without commercial third-party webcam software such as Cyberlink’s YouCam. Microsoft caps out-of-the-box video at 720p. Video calling is also limited to 720p resolution.

That’s adequate when you’re casually chatting with friends and family, but it’s a bit below the bar for corporate settings where video conferences are typically held on full-HD television screens. In those situations, you want to use a camera that supports 1080p video calling.

On our humble PC display, the LifeCam Studio did pretty well. The image was sharp with vivid colors in just about every type of lighting environment we tried. This was no doubt due to the camera’s TrueColor Technology, which works by tracking your facial movement and adjusting the exposure accordingly. The camera’s 5MP still images were also crisp and balanced.

Even though the mic is mono, it reproduced warm vocals, but it also picked up a fair amount of ambient noise in bustling rooms. The camera rotates freely, but not necessarily smoothly; the mount doesn’t fit snuggly enough on most displays to stay still (or even attached) when you rotate the camera. As a result, repositioning it is a two-handed task: one hand to hold the mount in place and the other to swivel the barrel.

Despite its slightly misleading 1080p promise, the LifeCam Studio is an excellent webcam for both personal and business use. For the same price, though, you can pick up the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 or C922x and get out-of-the box 1080p video and stereo sound—so despite its strengths, this top LifeCam remains second fiddle.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Microsoft

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Ansaldo

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?