Many laptops nowadays seem to come with built-in webcams, but for the ones that don’t, you will want to consider Microsoft’s LifeCam NX-6000.
The first thing we noticed about this webcam is the cute little black case it comes in. The case holds the camera and the USB cable so you can pack the camera away when not in use, and it will be sitting safely in your laptop bag, amongst all other accessories for your portable life.
The design of the NX-6000 is quite nice — it is definitely one of the more attractive and compact webcams on the market. The device, which is 85mm long with the camera out, attaches to the top of the laptop screen via a simple spring-loaded clasp. This is a great mechanism, but if the top of your screen is thicker than around a centimetre it might be a bit tricky to attach.
The camera optics are nicely stored inside the body of the camera when it is not in use. To use the camera, simply push on one side of the device and the spring-loaded system opens to reveal the camera and small lens. This little part of the camera can also be tilted up and down so it is easy to stay in the picture. These two well-thought out features are what many webcameras lack — a good mounting system and tilt adjustment.
Getting down and dirty with this camera was a pleasant experience. On Windows Vista the camera’s drivers were instantly downloaded and installed automatically. After a minute or so the camera was working and taking photos. The picture quality is really good for such a small camera; the NX-6000 can take still images at 7.6 megapixels and video at 2 megapixels, with a resolution of 1280x1024.
On top of the camera, there is a little Windows Live Call Button. By pressing this button and selecting an online contact, users can start a video call.
Video calls with MSN messenger worked great without the included driver, but if you want to make this work with Skype, get a driver update for Vista from Microsoft (go to www.urltea.com/unp and select webcam NX-6000). It is about 117MB.The camera also has a built-in microphone and the sound quality was decent, but this might be more dependent on your computer than the microphone. We tried it on Skype and that worked well too.
The video was nice and clear, and big.
Overall, with its small size, clean design and smart features the NX-6000 is a nice camera. The only weak point would be the catch, which works well, but has limitations.
The recommended retail price for the NX-6000 is $189 including GST.