Philips SPC1330NC

Blog Andy Shaw Feb 18, 2011

This webcam has a good-quality lens, built-in microphone and a feature-packed suite of software.

As more and more people sign up for broadband, what seemed only a few years ago like the stuff of science fiction has now become a fact of life. Perhaps one of the most impressive developments of the broadband era is that you can now stick a camera on your PC and use it to conduct face-to-face chats with people on the other side of the world. More congenial than email and more family-friendly than the telephone, webcams offer an immediate and easy-to-use way of connecting with loved ones far away.

This webcam from Philips has a good-quality lens (up to two-megapixels, which is more than sufficient for most webcam actions), built-in microphone and a feature-packed suite of software. This lets you tweak the camera’s settings in the usual way, but you also get face-tracking, security monitoring and a range of fun extras such as putting your face into a TV oand applying motion blur.

The camera works very well. We tested it in poor light conditions, with background noise and a fairly strong backlight. While the default settings aren’t ideal, it’s possible to tweak the light-compensation settings to improve things. These profiles can be saved so you can skip back to them, but you can’t store settings for different times of the day – you’ll have to adjust the settings each time if you need to. The face-detection feature works very well – the camera appears to slowly pan around the room to follow your movements. In fact, it’s using its wide-angled lens to zoom in on a specific area, rather than performing a physical pan.

Ease of use:
The included software is very simple to use. The camera worked seamlessly without any problems, though the default microphone on the PC got picked up first – watch out for this as the one on the camera will probably be better. Beyond that, it’s easy to set up, easy to use and integrates smoothly with instant-messaging and internet-telephony software.

Value for money:
It may sound like a lot but £69.99 is about average for a top-tier webcam. This model has all the bells and whistles you could want but it might be worth shopping around – you can certainly get cheaper cameras with fewer options if you find this model beyond your budget.