There are countless trends competing for attention in the gaming notebook and laptop space but not all of them are either useful or benefit the core gaming experience.
Swann Communications MicroCam II
- Very small, decent image quality
- Slightly expensive, suffers from interference
Decent performance and a diminutive size make the MicroCam II a winner
Price$ 199.00 (AUD)
Every man secretly wants to be James Bond. Let's face it, who wouldn't want cool gadgets, flash cars and even flashier women? Shame about the Martinis though, everyone knows only pansies drink them shaken. Anyone wanting to fulfill their 007 dream should look no further than Swann's MicroCam II. Okay, it isn't going to get you cars and women, but it's pretty cool nonetheless.
The MicroCam II is basically a very small camera. It's roughly cube shaped, each side being about 2cm long. Trailing from the camera is a short power cord. This can be connected using the included AC adapter, or for true portability, the included 9V battery attachment means no wires are needed at all. The battery powered option was our favourite as the camera really is very small and with no need for mains power, can be concealed almost anywhere. The camera does not have the ability to record images, instead containing a wireless transmitter. Using the included receiver it is then possible to watch streaming video on your television. Despite its diminutive frame, the MicroCam II also boasts a microphone meaning that audio can also be transmitted. The receiver is incredibly easy to set up, basically plug it in to the composite input on your TV and away you go.
We found the MicroCam II's image quality to be remarkably good for such a tiny camera. It is by no means outstanding, but the microscopic lens does the job perfectly well. Distant objects look a little blurry, but for use around the home this isn't a problem. The audio transmission also works well, with clearly audible sound. We managed to attain a decent range from the wireless receiver, well over 20m, without interference. However, this distance falls dramatically with the introduction of walls. We tried using the camera through a couple of walls and up a flight of stairs and were disappointed with the results. Picture quality isn't as adversely affected as the sound.
The obstructions created two horizontal bars of static on our television but this was a minor annoyance , as the image was still visible for the most part. The real problem was with reference to sound,as a crackling noise obscured most of the audio, making it virtually useless. We weren't sure if this was purely the obstruction caused by the walls or interference of another kind. In certain parts of our office we received so much interference we could barely make out the image on-screen. This was despite the camera being only 2m away from the receiver. If you plan on using the camera in areas full of wireless interference and electronic noise, this is worth bearing in mind.
As funny as it may seem, Swann don't actually market the camera as a spy accessory. We think they're missing an opportunity there. Swann seem to think it would be better used to check for leaves in your guttering. Doesn't quite have the same appeal as covert surveillance, does it? However you wish to use the camera, it is very easy to set up and offers a compact, portable frame. It is likely to suffer from mild interference, and perhaps is a little pricey, but is still a solid little purchase.
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