updated 10:30 am EDT, Wed September 12, 2007
Microsoft HD LifeCams
Microsoft today launched a pair of USB webcams that it promises are ideal for sharing photos as well as video. The desktop-minded VX-7000 2-megapixel camera and its notebook sibling, the 1.3-megapixel NX-3000, are each intended to snap high-resolution photos and exchange them through a new feature known as Photo Swap: a single on-screen button snaps and sends a photo in the middle of a Windows Live chat, saving the trouble of preserving and manually transferring each shot during a video session. A similar button automatically uploads photos to Windows Live Spaces, and a hardware button streamlines bringing up a new contact by presenting a list of online contacts immediately in the middle of the screen.
Although built for Microsoft apps, either LifeCam is independent and will work with AIM, Skype, and most any other program or OS that supports a USB webcam. The $60 NX-3000 is the basic model with a plastic swivel lens and a protective carrying case. The larger, $100 VX-7000 adds a wide-angle glass lens, unidirectional noise cancellation, and automatic low-light adjustments. Both should be available later this month.