High-definition (HD) and widescreen devices dominate the high-end webcam market – and with the soaring popularity of video chat via Skype, it’s a trend we we fully expect to see continue. But if your needs are more modest, it’s worth considering the Webcam Deluxe Optical Glass from Hercules. It’s a once high-end device whose popularity has ensured its continuing place in Hercules’ product range – but whose asking price has come down to a far-from-high-end £12.99.
And it’s an impressive device for £12.99, too. The ‘Deluxe Optical Glass’ label can be attributed to the manufacture of the device, which eschews a cheap plastic lens in favour of high-quality optical glass, and replaces the usual cheap plastic bodywork with solid metal construction.
The Hercules includes four lights around the lens, which come in very useful in dark rooms. Granted, we’re hardly talking floodlights, here, but the four LEDs do generate enough luminance to make a Skype conversation perfectly possible.
The camera itself is quite small, and easily mounted onto a screen or surface. The lens can be manually focused, which is straightforward enough, too. And the unit connects easily enough via USB, too. All that’s left is to load up the provided Hercules software (although it took a couple of attempts on our test system to do this), and you can be up and running in a matter of minutes.
The camera’s output is sound, albeit that it’s only standard definition (which, to be fair, is adequate for most – this unit goes up to 640×480), and the in-built microphone punches just a little above its weight too. There aren’t too many frill about the way the Webcam Optical Deluxe goes about its business, but nor does it need them. This is very much a tool for the job, and it’s a job it does perfectly well.
But while the Webcam Optical Deluxe undoubtedly works well in low light, it can’t compete with the quality of Microsoft’s more recent devices such as the LifeCam Studio – but then, that HD device costs more than five times the price.