Microsoft's CURRENT web cam hardware lineup is now UVC compatible and make excellent choices for cross-platform, multi-operating system use on Mac computers, PC's or Linux boxes when attached to a USB 2.0 or 3.0 speed port.
Of the above camera's, the LifeCam Studio pro is Microsoft's premium UVC webcam. It features full 1080p HD resolution, very high-quality lens optics, auto-focus and a wideband, noise-canceling microphone. It also features a standard camera tripod mounting hole for ultra-stable cam placement. In many ways it rivals Logitech's premium C930e and C920 UVC compatible webcams - often at a significantly lower price.
The HD-5000 is a high-quality USB Video Class compliant 720p HD camera with hardware autofocus. The HD-3000 is a lower-cost version with 720p HD resolution and a fixed focus lens. Often available for $25 USD, the HD-3000 delivers a sharp, accurate image at a very low price. All three of these cams have notably accurate color fidelity thanks to their TrueColor(tm) technology.
and the slightly cheaper Live! Cam Sync HD are budget 720p HD cameras at very reasonable prices.
Gone from their online store are any of their (now discontinued) truly premium cameras. Both lack full 1080p resolution, optical glass lenses, H.264 hardware video compression or autofocus features that several of their now-discontinued high-end cameras offered.
The dwindling of Creative Labs as a top-tier USB Video Class compatible web camera supplier leaves only two major competitors. Logitech of course already has the lion's share of the market, both for general purpose consumer chat cams and higher-end business UC User Collaboration group conferencing systems. Ipevo, a specialist in the educational market dominates with it's documentation and presentation webcams.
Without stiff, active competition from Creative Labs, Logitech will get most of the spoils. The remainder of the market is left to 2nd-tier and cheap, no-name Chinese import cameras. It remains to be seen if or how committed Creative Labs remains to the webcam market. After all, their primary business is and perhaps should be premium computer audio products.
Budget Webcam Choice: The fact that this value cam doesn't have Logitech's 'RightLight' technology is an advantage here. Users with other Logitech RightLight enabled cams in low-light situations often experience SLOWER frame-rates in low-lighting conditions. But because this 250 model webcam doesn't have it - it tends to perform more consistently.
Logitech C250 Cross Platform Webcam
This VGA/1.3MP cam doesn't push resolution to extremes, so it also performs well on a wider range of computer processor speeds. (Something that cannot be said about 3MP+ HD web cameras which demand high-speed dual-core computers!) It does have a built-in microphone, but only uses a plastic lens, so this is decidedly not a razor-sharp image like you get from Logitech's top-end Carl Ziess lens models.
In the midrange - The Logitech C600 delivers noticably higher image quality with a glass lens - but because of it's higher 2MP resolution and RightLight technology, this webcam may deliver sluggish frame rates on slower computers - or in low-light situations.
From Left To Right:
Socialize Mid-Range Model
Creative Labs Live! Cam Socialize Webcam
Socialize HD - With Wide-Screen 720p HD Support:
Creative Labs Live! Cam Socialize HD Webcam
Live Cam Sync - Low-Quality VGA at a Low Price:
Creative Labs Live! Cam Sync Webcam
For those using Google voice and video chat plugin you should have recently received an automatic update that contains:
• Reduced crashes on newer macs (Mac OS X v10.6.2 specifically)
• A fix for webcam compatibility on Windows (including HP webcams)
• Several fixes for plugin stability
• Fixes to the infrastructure used to set up and connect video calls.