This plate, which is mounted on a matching glossy black clip designed to attach the webcam to your PC, will rotate through 360 degrees and pivot by 80 degrees, ensuring images can be captured from almost any angle. But is the Philips Webcam Pro SPC1330NC all style and no substance?
Before you can connect the SPC1330NC to your PC, you must install the software that comes bundled with the device. We found this took just over five minutes. Then, it took a further minute or so for our PC to recognise the webcam once we’d plugged it into the USB port. Then we were ready to go.
Opening the WebCam Companion for the first time, you are asked where you want to store your captured videos. Once you’ve selected a location, you are then presented with four options; capture, monitor, edit and chat.
The Capture option displays two windows, one which lists all the files stored in the location you chose earlier and one which displays the image the webcam sees. From here, we found we were able to reposition the camera to capture exactly the image we wanted as well as choosing between still images, recording video or burst, which captures five shots in one go.
We were also able to quickly and change the resolution of the image or video we captured from this screen. Options ranged from 160x120 to 1,600x1,200 pixels for video and still images, as well as well as a separate 3,200x2,400 option for stills.
While we found the still images taken by the SPC1330NC were clear and sharp with vivid colours, we found the high resolution video a bit of a let down. Capturing video at 640x480 the frame rate was 90fps, but this dropped to 30fps if you chose a resolution of 800x600. Even worse, the rate sunk to 6fps if you chose 1,280x960 or 1,600x1,200.
So while the colours were vivid and the images themselves were sharp, the video had a slight lag on it, which we found slightly uncomfortable to watch. That said we found the Face Tracking function worked well, making sure all faces seen by the camera were in focus.
From the WebCam Companion you can also email your videos or images to friends, create slideshows of your captured content, print it and also change the settings – such as picking different formats for video and still images, as well as selecting the quality and number of photos that are taken during burst capture. There are also more advanced settings that let you alter the colour balance, smoothness of the image and even add noise reduction and fun features such as backgrounds and logos to your pictures.
The Monitor option allows you to use the Webcam Pro for security, while the edit function ensures you can take snapshots from any images captured during monitoring. Finally the Chat functions ensures you can use the webcam during instant messaging chats with friends. It’s compatible with Skype, Yahoo Messenger, AOL Instant Messager and Windows Live Messenger.
We liked the look or the Philips SPC1330NC Webcam Pro and the fact it can capture still images at 8Mp, but were disappointed by the poor framerate and the lag on the videos.