Microsoft LifeCam HD 5000 Review

The Microsoft LifeCam HD 5000 webcam is the simplified desktop version of the LifeCam HD 6000 webcam that is a laptop version. The HD 5000 has minor differences when compared with its laptop version and hence it accounts for a lower price range. When the HD 5000 is compared to the other stock webcams that are in built in the systems of today, the 16:9 wide screen formatting and the true 720 pixel high definition video recording are a good upgrade for a price of just $50. there are minor shortcomings in the HD 5000 but it is still capable of deserving the attention of the customers as a worthy aftermarket webcam.

Specifications

The HD 5000 webcam is capable of capturing color images and videos both with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. It has a lens whose focus can be adjusted automatically. It includes a 4 pin hi-speed USB port of Type A to enable the connection with a computer. It is certified for Windows Vista by Microsoft. It is compatible with the Microsoft Windows 7, Microsoft Windows XP SP2 or higher and Microsoft Windows Vista operating systems. It requires a dual core processor with a minimum clock speed of 1.6 GHz and a RAM of 1 GB. It is also included with software such as Skype compatibility and Progressive Scanning.

Design

The LifeCam HD 5000 webcam has the same size and shape as the LifeCam HD 6000. it has a glossy black colored housing and a Windows Messenger button is integrated on the top. There are certain minor differences between the two webcams and they can be distinguished easily. The desktop version is slightly bigger than the laptop version. The included USB cable of the HD 5000 s longer than the one provided with the HD 6000 by 2 feet. This extra length is provided in order to enable the connection to a computer on top of a table from a tower that is on the floor.

The main difference in the physical construction of the two webcams lies in the case connection. The HD 5000 has a rubber foot that is very flexible in order to accommodate a full sized display. This is completely different from the one on the HD 6000 which has a small clip that unfolds to enable the easy mounting of it on the top of a laptop. The other difference is that the HD 5000 is static while the HD 6000 is capable of swiveling to an angle of about 360 degrees around the base. However, both the LifeCam webcams are compact to be carried in a bag or a laptop case.

Setup and System Requirements

The installation process of the HD 5000 requires the installation of the software CD that is included in the package. The company, Microsoft intermittently tends to update the versions of the drivers. It is therefore recommended to check for the updates of the driver on the Microsoft website before using it. The HD 5000 recommends some strict system requirements. It requires a Windows 7/XP(SP2)/Vista operating system. It requires an Intel dual core processor with a minimum clock speed of 1.6 GHz. It also requires the system to have a RAM of 1 GB.

The specifications can also be an Intel dual core processor with 3 GB clock speed and 2 GB of RAM capacity. The hard drive space must be at least 1.5 GB. The main reason behind these requirements is that the webcam consumes a major portion of the system’s resources to encode the high definition video. Usually, this consumption is moderate for a modestly configured system and it increases with the slower and older systems. These requirements may not be of much concern when using only the webcam but a well performing PC will be required when performing multiple tasks. The webcam software of the HD 5000 does not work on a Mac OS system as with the other Microsoft webcams.

Features

After the installation, the LifeCam software behaves as a central hub for modifying the settings such as the image quality, video resolution, microphone volume and the image adjustments. The resolution can be varied from 160 x 120 pixels to a maximum of wide screen resolution that is 1280 x 720 pixels. There is an option in order to toggle the TrueColor. This feature is an auto brightness assistant that helps in optimizing the shot in the poor lighting conditions. This option when checked brings out the subtle details that will never go unnoticed. The un-checking of the option allows the user to adjust the settings such as the backlight compensation, powerline frequency, white balance, sharpness, saturation, contrast and brightness.

Performance

The software range of the kitschy 3D overlays applies the visual effects to the images that are captured and to videos that involve motion. The auto focus feature is very nice. The system is quite intelligent as it detects the face and automatically adjusts the focus when the person is moving. The sensor is highly delicate that it refocuses frequently even with slight movements. The usage is very easy and straight forward with all the proper settings. It produces a smooth video chatting experience and the users on the opposite side notice some hiccups in the video. There is some graininess when used at low resolutions. The audio recording is done by the provided microphone. It is good in performance as it picks even the minute sounds and filters the background noise.

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