VideoCAM snaps easy digital picturesWe've looked at a...

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October 18, 1999

VideoCAM snaps easy digital pictures

We've looked at a number of Web cams over the past few years and haven't been impressed with the majority of them. Kensington's new VideoCAM series is a refreshing step in the right direction.

VideoCAMs come in three flavors: the cheapest (and lowest-quality) model, called the VideoCAM, sells for $49. It has the smallest image window of the three and a common image format of 400 x 300 pixels. The VideoCAM VGA ($79) has a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels, and the top-of-the-line VideoCAM Super VGA -- the model we reviewed -- has an impressive 800 x 600 resolution and built-in microphone. It sells for $129.

The first thing you notice about the VideoCAM is its unusual design. About the size of a pack of cigarettes, the camera is a half-circle that swivels up and down on a flat base. The outside edge has a rubberized finish.

There are basically two parts to the VideoCAMworks software interface. The left side of the screen has two vertical drawers that pull out. One has an Explorer-type directory hierarchy, while the other displays the images stored within the folders of the directory. Below the two drawers is an image tray (a sort of image scrapbook where all of your snaps and video clips are stored as you're working with them). To the right of the trays is the heart of the program, the camera window, image controls, and the video calling window (for Net-based video conferencing). There are three shooting modes for video clips: normal, time-elapsed and stop motion.

The VideoCAM Super VGA is a great little camera that should set a new standard for consumer Web cams. It's handsome, high-quality, fun and easy to use, with excellent software. And it's inexpensive. What else could you ask for?

Information: 650-572-2700 or www.kensington.com.

-Gareth Branwyn

Sony's WebTV terminal easiest way to get Net

There really is no easier way to cruise the Net and send e-mail than Sony's WebTV Plus Internet Terminal for TV and wireless keyboard.

Installation of the $250 package was a snap. Fully illustrated, easy-to-read instructions cover every possible mode of TV play. All the plugs were connected and batteries installed in the wireless keyboard and remote control within five minutes. My phone, television, VCR, keyboard and WebTV terminal were suddenly transformed into an Internet workstation.

Once the power was on, the unit immediately installed a 20-minute WebTV update from Microsoft, which owns the franchise. Then came a second 20-minute download via a Net connection and a third, six-minute download for receiving TV listings. After a few more questions about the type of service I wanted (Microsoft charges $24.95 per month for Internet access), I was hitting the information superhighway and e-mailing my cyberpals. You can even attach video and audio clips to e-mail.

Information: 888-772-7669 or www.webtv.net.

- Bob Bersano, Dallas Morning News

For reviews of new gadgets visit www.streettech.com.

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