Microsoft has responded to the growing demand for tools that allow you to speak face-to-face over the Internet by announcing that its first ever line of webcams will launch in Australia in August.
Microsoft’s LifeCams are intended for use with Windows Live Messenger, which is the next generation of the MSN Messenger service. Live Messenger users will appreciate features such as the Windows Live Call Button, which allows users to place a video call with the touch of one button; the LifeCam Dashboard, which provides easy access to functions such as pan, tilt and zoom; and one-touch blogging, which allows users to post images from their LifeCam straight to their Windows Live Space blog.
At first, there will be two members of the LifeCam product range: the VX-6000 and the VX-3000. The VX-6000 (RRP$149.95) will provide 5.0 megapixel still photography, 1.3 megapixel high-definition video and 3x digital zoome. The VX-3000 (RRP$99.95) will provide high-definition still photography (1.3 megapixels) and 640x680pixel video. Both will have a built-in acoustic noise-cancelling microphone and a universal attachment base so they can be attached to most monitors.
Microsoft has also gone for fun with its webcams. The LifeCams will come with included video effects – such as twinkling stars – so the user can personalise the background when making a video call.
The LifeCam range was developed internally at Microsoft by its Hardware division, which usually sticks to mice and keyboards. Although the cams won’t be available in local stores for another two months, retail giant Amazon.com is currently taking preorders.