Does your laptop suddenly feel outdated because your friends are skipping about town with laptops that feature integrated Webcams? (It's becoming increasingly difficult to find a consumer laptop without an all-seeing eye above the display.) If you'd like to keep pace with the Webcam-toting crowd--or engage it in a video chat--I reviewed three laptop Webcams this week that will do the trick.
The Logitech QuickCam Pro for Notebooks is the priciest of the trio at $100 (you can find it online for less) and is the hardest to keep affixed to your laptop, but its image quality more than makes up for these drawbacks. Bright light, low light, outdoors--it excels in all conditions. And the QuickCam software is superior to what you get from Creative or Microsoft. As long as you can put up with readjusting the camera atop your laptop from time to time, you'll come to quickly appreciate this small but mighty Webcam.
The Creative Live Cam Notebook Ultra scores points for its design and for the ability to rotate it lens to point directly away from you. It's easy to secure the camera to your laptop, and spinning the lens 180 degrees away from you makes it easy to take video of the action taking place in front of you instead of just you sitting at the keyboard. Its image quality didn't impress, particularly at low light, but it more than suffices for video calling via Skype or another instant messenger.
The Microsoft LifeCam NX-3000 is the cheapest of the three at $60 and proves that you get what you pay for. The software is frustrating to use serves up fewer features than either bundle from Creative or Logitech. Hooks into Windows Live Messenger and Live Spaces may be of mild interest to some, but it's really only a good choice if you need a cheap and tiny Webcam for the occasional video conference.
More Webcam reviews here.