Genius Facecam 3000
Price: $59.99 US
The good thing about this camera is that is does not require any drivers to be installed on your computer. Out of the box, it is compatible with Windows XP SP2, Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Mac OS X 10.4.9 and above. This is due to the fact that the camera supports UVC (USB Video Class) which is integrated in the operating systems it supports.
The image quality is relatively good. I compared it with both my iMac and Mac Book Air internal iSight and was pleased with the result. The iSight does generally have a blueish tint, while the Facecam 3000 is warmer in tint.
The Facecam 3000 is delivered with a CD with Windows software included. No Mac software is available on the CD. But the camera works well with integrated OS X software such as iChat and Photo Booth. iMovie, on the other end, did not recognize the Facecam 3000 to capture video from it. I suspect it is more a limitation of iMovie than a problem with the Facecam 3000 itself.
In the box you will also find a wired headset. The headset is small, one ear with over the ear band to maintain it on your head. At necktie level, a small block offers an analog volume control and a mute switch. It is relatively comfortable, but I would prefer a headband. The main problem with it is the connectivity: it is two 1/8″ plugs instead of USB connectivity. In a few cases, that could be a limitation as those jacks tend to disappear in favor of USB. Sadly the camera does not have an embedded microphone, so you may have to use a headset with one to chat.
In general I like the camera video quality. In some cases, under fluorescent light, I saw some banding in the image on the background, things that the iSight was not showing. But under natural light, say from a window, the image was really good.
The camera has a large blue light at the bottom when it is in use. I found it more difficult to see it in use than the small green spot on the side of the iSight. On the top of the lens is a button that looks like a shutter to take a quick snap, but I could not find how to make it work. Is it Windows only? Even the manual doesn’t talk about it.
The camera has a small well articulated arm attached to it. You can place the camera on your desk, or on top of your monitor with ease. I was surprised at how well the arm can be adjusted to place the camera on a monitor and still keep steady.
If you use a Mac mini, Mac Pro, or another headless computer with a monitor that does not have an embedded web cam, the Facecam 3000 could be for you. The price is very good for the quality it delivers, and it is more than easy to install. If you plan to use it for online communication, I recommend you find a good and comfortable headset, as the one provided did not satisfy me.
MyMac Review Rating: 7 out of 10