5 Budget Webcams

Sometimes you just want a webcam that's going to work when you Skype Grandma every Sunday; however, that doesn't mean you have to pick from the bottom of the barrel. When buying a webcam, spending just a few extra dollars will get you some added features, including improved picture quality and the chance that it will stick around for a while. Then Grandma can see you in you all your detailed glory (and perhaps with a funny avatar). Here we list five choices for budget webcams, with the "budget" bar set at $50 and less.

Microsoft LifeCam HD-5000

This webcam has 720p high-definition capability with a 30 fps frame rate. (What’s a frame rate and why is it important for webcams? Read this article to find out.) It gets pluses for its versatile clip, and strong light and color performances, but points are taken off for its Auto Focus performance. It’s built-in microphone proved to be perfectly adequate for video chatting.

Genius iSlim 2000AF

The Genius iSlim 2000AF has a 2-megapixel sensor and can shoot video in 720p. (You should note that you must have a monitor that's capable of high definition to take advantage of HD-quality video.) It also has a built-in microphone and comes bundled with Genius’ CrazyTalk Avatar Creator (an easy way to make Grandma laugh). One notable feature of the iSlim 2000AF is its innovative cover. Instead of disabling your webcam when you’re not using it, you can simply slide the cover over when you’re done chatting. This one of those features that makes you wonder why more webcam don’t have it. The list price is $49.99, but you can find it for much less on some websites.

Creative Live! Cam Sync

This webcam can shoot at 30 fps at a 800 by 600 resolution. At just a $19.99 list price, you get one-click YouTube uploading and password protection. According to the company, you can set it so that you have to enter your password each time the camera is activated, which could a huge plus for parents. One big downfall is that it doesn’t have a built-in mic, so make sure you have an external source. Another downfall is that it doesn’t take high-resolution still images (just 800 by 600), so, again, look elsewhere if this is something you do often. But the price is so low that you should expect to give up a few things. The Creative Live! Cam Sync comes in black or white.

Creative Live! Cam Chat HD

Step up to the Live! Cam Chat HD from Creative if you’re willing to get closer to that $50 benchmark. For that extra $30 you get 720p capability, a built-in noise-canceling microphone, and the ability to shoot 5.7-megapixel still images. You also get one-click Facebook and YouTube uploaded (you must download software in order to do this.) Like the Live! Cam Sync, you get fixed-focus shooting here; you have to step up to Creative’s Live! Cam Socialize HD AF to get the Auto Focus feature. This webcam is available in just black.

Logitech HD Webcam C270

This webcam from Logitech can shoot 720p video and take 3-megapixel still images. It comes with a built-in microphone with Logitech’s RightSound technology (said to reduce ambient noise) and its RightLight technology (said to automatically adjust colors and light). The webcam (which has a $39.99 MSRP) also comes with the company’s video calling software, which becomes an option if you’re not already using Skype or some other platform. Like the Genius cams, some video effects software is bundled in. One other bonus for the style inclined: The C270 is offered in several different patterns.


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