At this point it’s hard to find someone who hasn’t been involved in a video call in the past 18 months, but what about those without a smartphone, tablet or laptop with a built in camera? Creative has an excellent and affordable solution for them with the Creative Live! Cam Sync 1080p V2 – here’s a closer look at it.
The realities of a global pandemic meant that a lot of work went ‘remote’, with people working from home. Personal lives were also affected, as you couldn’t just visit anyone you wanted anymore, so Zoom, FaceTime and other video call tools surged in popularity, connecting people with their (grand)children and friends.
Our work was also affected, as demos and meetings with developers were now of the streaming variety. But with most of our PCs being of the desktop variety, it always felt like a compromise – use a more powerful desktop with a bigger screen, or have the interaction of a built-in webcam but see everything on a much smaller screen. Hooking the laptop up to a monitor wasn’t ideal either, because in that scenario you’re not looking at the spot where the camera is. Long story short, we needed a webcam solution for our desktop computers.
A quick scan showed us that there’s a big price range for these though, but with a recommended retail price of $59.99 the Creative Live! Cam Sync 1080p V2 sits on the more affordable end of the spectrum – and was recently on sale through Creative as well, despite being a very new product that was only released in September of this year. It’s only a bargain if it performs well though, and for our purposes it didn’t just meet but also surpassed our expectations.
This started with the build quality, which was a mostly plastic and lightweight exterior without ever feeling like something that would break easily. The main camera unit measures about 6 centimeters in width, and features a camera at the center with dual microphones on either side of it. Reading the official specs makes the camera seem larger than it really is, but that’s mainly because of the laptop/monitor clip that is attached to the bottom. In reality, you’ll hardly see that clip, and it becomes a rather small and elegant camera.
The camera comes with a built-in privacy door that easily folds open. It’s made of rubber, so over time the part that swivels could be prone to wear and tear, but with very little resistance needed to open and close it we can see it lasting a very long time indeed. We’d recommend using the camera on standalone monitors over a laptop though, as the clip doesn’t clamp the unit into place but relies on balance and counterbalance. It’s versatile this way and perfectly stable on a monitor or TV, but less ideal when used with a laptop that moves around.
The Creative Live! Cam Sync 1080p V2 worked straight out of the box without the need to install specific drivers, but is compatible with Creative’s app if you want to tweak how the microphone works and sounds. This includes functions like the ability to auto-mute when you’re not speaking, and cutting out background noise – both of which can be tweaked in terms of sensitivity.
The microphone also performs well, regardless of how or even if you’ve set up the features mentioned above. You shouldn’t expect studio grade voice quality of course, but it was a noticeable step up from often hollow-sounding laptop audio. It wasn’t perfect and a dedicated headset will produce better audio clarity, but at this price point it’s a good performer when it comes to audio.
Video also fares well, with 1080p capability and a 77 degree field of view that gives a nice wide look at you and your background – ideal when used in a living room environment for video chats. The video quality is also far better than what you’d get from a cheap phone or tablet, and definitely better than what ships with most laptops. There’s a bit of grain to remind you that this is a budget solution, but with solid performance in different lighting situations and a good picture quality this one’s hard to beat at its price point.
If you’re not looking to get into the streamer business where you need professional grade audio and video quality, then the Creative Live! Cam Sync 1080p V2 is a good general purpose webcam that offers the kind of value for money we haven’t seen anywhere else. If you need a webcam solution for your desktop, TV or (stationary) laptop and aren’t looking to break the bank, this will suit your needs quite well.