Web cameras have been around for quite a while, so companies are having to add new features to make their cameras stand out. Genius has come out with a new web camera, the Look 313 Media, and it has built-in speakers and a 2 port USB hub.
- Multifunctional 330K Pixel Video Camera
- 5-in-1: Web camera
- USB Speaker
- USB 2.0 HUB
- Headset and Microphone slot
This web cameras biggest feature is the built-in speakers. The speakers are small little 2 watts, 36mm Neodymium magnet micro drivers. There is also a built-in digital amplifier. The speakers have a signal to noise ratio of 98 dB and a frequency response of 20 Hz to 20 KHz. The speakers can rotate 90 degrees so that they face forward.
The camera itself is a 330K pixel, manual focus web camera. It is capable of taking a 1.3 Megapixel still image and maximum video resolution of 640 x 480. The camera is also capable of video at 352 x 288, 320 x 240, and 160 x 120. The frame rate for the video is 30 fps.
There is also a 2 port USB hub on the back. The camera comes with a cable that has two USB plugs on it, but I was able to get it to work fine with just one plugged in. It makes me wonder what the second one is for.
The features of this camera leave me kind of confused. While I can appreciate the additions I cannot understand why they included them. For example, why include speakers? Most likely your computer or laptop already has speakers and I can guarantee your speakers sound better than the web cameras. Also, there is not a built in microphone. This means you will have to purchase a separate microphone and plug it into the back of the camera. I would personally have preferred a built-in microphone instead of speakers.
The front of the camera has only the lens. The lens can move up and down, but it is manual. There is also a focus which can be adjusted by turning the lens. The sides have the speakers, and you can turn them so they face forward. The back has all the plugs and ports. There is a mini USB which is used as the input and two full size USB ports that are used for the hub. There is also a microphone and headphone jack. On top is a button that is used for taking a picture when the camera is active. The button will snap a picture according to the settings in the taskbar menu. The button is surrounded by a light that turns on when the camera is active.
When it comes to a web camera it is all about quality. How good does the picture look, and how fast is the response time for the video. Secondary to quality is features, how is this camera going to make my life better.
The quality of the web camera is decent, and it depends on which software you are using. I compared the software that comes with the camera and Windows movie maker. As you can see from the screen shots Windows movie maker has better color quality and less artifacts. If you look at the software that comes with the camera you can see that the picture is washed out and there are a lot of different colored specks in the image. At first I thought this was because the lens was dirty, but I tried cleaning it and the specks stayed. It may be that I got a bad camera for my review. Infact, when I brought this to the manufacturers attention they sent me another camera and the new one was better, but you could still see some artifacts.
The response time on the camera is a little slow. On average it was about one second behind real time. This means I could move my hand in front of the camera and the video on my screen would show my hand move about a second later.
The software that comes with the camera has quite a few features, but many of them are not fully thought out. For example, you have the ability to overlay some built-in graphics in the video, but you cannot upload your own graphics. Also, some of the graphics are too big to fit the little window you see the video in, but you cannot resize the window. Also, if you have any other video devices installed on your computer they will be available in the software. The only problem with this is that somethings like TV turners are not compatible with the software and they will generate an error or crash the software. In my case I have two TV tuners and they happen to show up first in the list of devices. Because the TV tuners were first, the software defaults to showing them first and because they are not compatible they causes an error. In fact half the time it crashes. I would think the software would be smart enough to default to its own device or at least a device that actually works.
There is an icon in the task bar that will allow you to take snapshots and apply overlays to the video. When you use this menu it is limited by what video resolution you selected in the software.
There is a 3rd party piece of software that comes with the camera. It is called DDPlayCam, but I was unable to get it to work because it wanted me to register it. As soon as I clicked the button it would all close, never giving me the opportunity to type in a key or anything.
Another problem I have with the software is how it stores the images and videos it captures. By default, and I have not found a way to change it, the video and images are stored in a folder called Album in the Windows directory. I’m sorry, but I don’t think that any software except Windows its self should be using that directory. I thought that is why we have the My Documents folders.
Warranty and Support
The Genius Look 313 Media comes with a 1 year parts and labor warranty. If you get one with lots of artifacts like my first one, I would definitely send it back for a new one.
While the Look 313 Media does offer some unique features I didn’t find a lot of use for them. If you are in need of a web camera and some small speakers then this will probably work for you. I would have prefered a built-in microphone instead of the speakers. For $49.76 from Amazon you can get this camera, but if you don’t need the speakers you can find other web cameras for cheaper. I have a 5.1 speaker system hooked up to my computer so I have no use for the speakers on this camera. As always compare prices before purchasing.
|JusTech'n editors' rating|