The LifeCam Studio from Microsoft is a high-resolution webcam capable of video recording up to full HD (1080p).
First, a few caveats. Most video chat services aren’t going to support much higher than VGA resolution (640 x 480). Even if they did, the kind of broadband upload speeds we get in New Zealand would make 1080p video conferencing unsuccessful anyway.
To record at 1080p, you’re going to need your own commercial-grade video capture software – the included software only allows recording at 720p. According to Microsoft, you'll also need an Intel Quad-Core 3.0GHz processor or equivalent.
Installation is quick and easy – I just plugged it in, and Windows 7 downloaded and installed the appropriate drivers within a couple of minutes.
Colour reproduction is excellent – far better than many other webcams – and rapid auto-focus keeps things beautifully crisp, even if you’re pointing the camera around the room, or moving yourself all over the frame.
The LifeCam comes with a rubbery lens cover to protect the lens, but it doesn’t attach securely to the camera. I found it fell off constantly, and was basically useless. The stand, however, is genius. It can act as a desktop stand, or be bent into a clip that fits securely on any notebook, netbook or LCD screen I could find. It also includes a tripod socket. However it is mounted, you should be able to achieve the recording angle you want.
The high resolution, tripod socket and quick autofocus make this an ideal webcam for video blogging. If you just want something to use with Skype, this is overkill: you don’t need the performance, and the price is too high.