Blue Microphones enters the world of webcams with a rough first try. (August 9th, 2009)
Product Manufacturer: Blue Microphones
- Good audio quality for any webcam.
- Cool, hideaway design.
- Low quality video and still photos.
- Expensive for what you get in visuals.
audio and visual quality
We put the Eyeball through three tests. The first test was using the Eyeball to take still shots like a tethered digital camera. The second test was an audio-only test where we recorded various sounds and recordings, and the final test relied on YouTube’s webcam for uploading videos instantaneously from a webcam.
In practice, we found the audio quality impressive but the visual quality sorely lacking. The Eyeball claims to sport an HD lens but our test shots look anything but high definition; a close read finds that you only get a full 30 frames per second at 640x480, not unlike most mid-range webcams. We recorded everything from our own voices to music being played back from a set of computer speakers and found the Eyeball did a great job of recording the audio. Playback of our recordings came back clear and without any noticeable echo or artifacting. Video and still shot testing was not as impressive. We took several over a dozen still shots of a stack of DVDs and the picture below was our best result for a static image: there's visible pixelation as well as less-than-ideal contrast and exposure.
For video testing we uploaded a handful of short videos to YouTube. The videos are taken several feet from a small color TV playing broadcast versions of The Mummy and Top Gun. The videos really tell the whole story. The audio from the movie comes in clearly, while the picture suffers from slow exposure correction, block artifacting due to a low bitrate, and overall poor quality.
The eyeball retails for $100, but whether or not that price is a strong value depends entirely on your intended uses. For those who are concerned with the absolute best quality in audio recording from a webcam, the Eyeball could be a good choice. However, if you care at all about picture quality you may want to look elsewhere for your webcam needs. For podcasters or individuals that need a USB audio microphone the Eyeball could double as a second-rate webcam while serving as a primary, quality audio recording device.
For now, we’d recommend that Blue sticks to audio recording, where it clearly can produce an excellent product; the company's audio-only Snowball has earned praise of its own, and for good reason. The video portion of the Eyeball, though, produces results we would have expected from years-old products and makes this a rather expensive proposition better served by webcams that don't quite have the audio mastery but produce a cleaner picture.