FaceVision TouchCam N1: A Very Good Dual-Microphone HD Webcam
By Leah Yamshon
At a Glance
Adjustments and autofocus yield high video quality
Excellent audio quality
Compatible with Skype only
The FaceVsion TouchCam N1 HD Webcam is a bit hefty, but it packs a lot of power into its 720p HD video capture.
The FaceVsion TouchCam N1 is not just for casual video chatting–at $120 (as of August 3, 2010), this camera means business, too. In my hands-on testing, this high-definition Webcam delivered excellent sound capture and solid picture quality.
The TouchCam N1 is fully compatible with Skype HD; and like the Freetalk Everyman HD, it is Skype-certified. It supports 720p high-definition video calling at 22 frames per second and comes equipped with an adaptive H.264 encoder (to enhance your video experience), an autofocus wide-angle lens, and a dual microphone system.
This slightly bulky, rectangular Webcam measures 3.9 by 1.8 by 2.4 inches, and weighs 2.1 ounces. Its flexible base and arm attachment anchor it firmly to the top of your monitor. Its weight makes attaching it to the side of your monitor rather difficult, however, so your best is to park it on top. Unfortunately, you can’t tilt the Webcam once it’s in place; instead, to adjust its angle, you must unclip and reseat the entire Webcam. The Skype software doesn’t provide a way to zoom in or pan from left to right, either.
Setting up the TouchCam N1 is simple: You just plug it in via its attached USB cable, open Skype, and start calling. Not having to download any additional software is very convenient, but you can only chat in HD if you’re running Skype software. You can, however, use it as a VGA webcam with other chat clients, just not in HD. And because it comes without extra effects, the only way to change elements such as contrast, brightness, hue, and backlight composition is with Skype’s manual settings loaded through Windows.
To permit the Webcam to shoot in high def, your computer must meet certain system requirements. Skype video call quality and picture quality depend heavily on the Internet connections involved, and the system requirements for enabling the TouchCam N1 to capture in HD are pretty steep: a minimum 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU, 1GB of RAM, and 200MB of hard disk space. You also need 1.2-mbps upload and download speeds at both ends, Windows XP or higher, and Skype 4.2 or later.
The TouchCam N1 provided fluid motion capture during a videoconference, without any noticeable drag or delay. The camera kept my face in focus no matter how much I moved, and the autofocus lens made subtle adjustments quickly. The picture remained bright under all sorts of lighting conditions; however, white objects in environments with high overhead lighting appeared blindingly bright. Manually adjusting the brightness setting via Skype, or dimming the overhead lights (if you can) may fix this.
The TouchCam N1 keeps the subject of the video capture very clear, but objects in the background often look a little grainy. The wide-angle lens puts much of your surroundings in the shot, but the graininess problem introduces some fuzziness there. Colors were impressive–vibrant and true to hue on the standard setting in natural light.
The WebCam’s dual microphones excel in picking up the speakers’ voice. My chat partners never had trouble hearing me, and the TouchCam N1’s wide design helps it pick up the sound of your voice if you ever need to move away from your monitor.
Despite a few problems with graininess, FaceVsion’s TouchCam N1 is a great choice for an HD Webcam–but only if you’re loyal to Skype and are willing to pay a little extra. In comparison with a typical non-HD Webcam, the TouchCam N1’s clear video capture and embedded microphones shine. In view of its lack of extra features and effects, this model is ideal for business calls and for casual Skype users who don’t require those extras.
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