by March 1, 2000 0 comments

3Com HomeConnect PC Digital Camera

USB digital camera. Rs 9,995
Features: USB connector; one-button snaps.
Pros: Good auto-adjustment to ambient light; low file size for snapshots; good collection of free software.
Cons: No full screen support; over-priced for its features.

Source: Savex Computers
124-B, Maker Chambers III
Nariman Point
Mumbai 400021. 
Tel: 22-2029864/2881616 
Fax: 2041656 
E-mail: savex@bom3.vsnl.net.in  

This USB digital camera from 3Com is a handy gadget, whether you want to take snapshots, record movies at home, put your picture on the Net, or do video conferencing. The camera comes with a host of software for the required jobs. 

Since the camera connects over USB, it is not difficult to install, and the descriptive manuals make it even easier. The installation puts in a “Launcher” shortcut in the Windows Start menu. This is a toolbar from where you can run all the applications that come with the camera.

Applications include PictureWorks Live, HomeConnect ViViewer, Microsoft NetMeeting, Netcard Pro, etc. 

The camera can take snapshots as well as create video files. You can take snapshots manually, or set the camera to take them automatically at regular intervals. Videos can be saved in AVI format. The camera has an application called Webcam 32 to create videos and put them on the Web. It uploads the file to your Website through FTP. 

We took a lot of still pictures and made some movies using the camera. It saves the snapshots in either BMP or JPG formats. It supports a wide range of resolutions and all color depths. By default, the files are saved in 320×240 resolution with 16-bit color depth. The picture quality is good and the file size in JPG isn’t very big–coming to about 8 kB. So, you can easily e-mail your photograph to your friends. In BMP format, however, the file size increased to 225
kB.

The frame rates for video capture depend on the window size you choose. In the default size, which is quite small, the frame rates are pretty good, ranging between 23 to 27 fps. However, the frame rates drop as you increase the window size. The maximum window size–about half your screen–gives only about 6-7 fps, which makes the video very jerky.

Other utilities that come bundled with the camera include RealPlayer G2 Internet streaming media player, NetCard Pro to send e-cards with snapshots or movies via e-mail, and Microsoft Netmeeting for video conferencing.

The camera has a manual focus adjustment, and brightness, sharpness, and color of the image can be adjusted using the HomeConnect ViViewer software. One very good feature is that it automatically adjusts for ambient light conditions to give good quality pictures even in low light. 

The camera has a good software bundle, and some good features. But it’s a bit over-priced for its features. 

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