Toys and Such - Page 2
The advent of high speed Internet
access has brought us one step closer to applications
such as video conferencing.
For those of
you who are looking for a web video camera to videoconference
with friends and relatives but do not want to waste another
precious PCI slot and find the parallel port types too
slow, a USB version may be what you're looking for.
What we'll be
looking at now is the TNC VR Viewcam; A neatly designed,
low-cost device that has acceptable quality.
Here's how the box looks
Hmm, who's the girl in
What are the contents of the
package? Let's see :
Spread of the contents
What about the
system requirements? Here's a take from the
user guide :
or higher IBM compatible PC
Windows 95 OSR2.1 or Windows 98
of free hard disk space
The bundled software
disk contains the VR Viewcam driver, VideoLive Mail, Microsoft
NetMeeting and the ever so popular Microsoft Internet Explorer.
Also included is a copy of Ulead VideoStudio and iPhoto
Here's how the
camera looks on the monitor :
Yeah! Smile for me baby!
Here are the specifications
of the camera :
24 Bit True
10 Bit Grayscale
704 x 576
640 x 480
352 x 288
320 x 240
176 x 144
160 x 120
128 x 96 (SQCIF)
Frame Rate (max)
Installation went quite smoothly.
After connecting the USB cable to the cam and the USB
port on my PC, I flipped on the power switch and waited
patiently for Windows 98 to boot up. Window's Plug and
Play detected the camera and asked for a driver. After
installing the driver, the device was ready for testing.
The entire installation is
as easy as plugging in a power cord. You don't even need
screwdrivers. Therefore, even if you are not familiar with
computer hardware, you should not have any major problems.
Here's a screenshot of the VR viewcam in action :
After installing the driver,
I proceeded on to install the bundled software, Videolive
I clicked on the configuration
button and oops, I saw my favourite MS message box :
It was a temporary problem
and was solved after a reboot. Whew...
I think Videolive Mail is
a nice program, It allows you to select the frame rate and
audio quality you want. It can do a video capture and save
the output as a file. This is suitable for leaving messages
for overseas friends/relatives, since a video clip may express
your feelings better than just an email.
Here's a close up of the cam
The video quality,
though not wonderful, was acceptable. Here's a snapshot
of the action at 320 x 240. Frame rates at that resolution
was quite okay at a decent 24fps.
I don't recommend using anything
above 640 x 480 as the result looks more like a slide show.
Overall, I think the TNC VR
Viewcam is not bad. Of special note is the ease of installation.
The video speed (fps) was faster than the parallel type
cams but slower than those which connect to video capture
For those of
you looking for a web camera that is cheap, easy to install
without lots of messy cables (draws current from the USB
port) and are not too concerned about image quality, this
device is suitable for you. The video quality is not poor,
but it's not spectacular either.
Those of you
who do not mind using an extra PCI slot for a video capture
card might want to consider using those cams that connect
to the video capture cards. They may be slightly more expensive
but they are faster (higher fps).
Also keep in
mind that this cam is a USB device. Those of you using NT4
or earlier verions of Windows 95 will have a problem.