Whether you need an inexpensive communication tool for Skype video chats or you want something to keep up with your DailyBooth addiction, an affordable webcam can certainly be a worthwhile investment. It's easy to get caught up in the more expensive offerings with a bunch of fancy features, but oftentimes something like the Rosewill RCM-8163 webcam can be more than adequate. Does this cheaper alternative stand up against its more expensive counterparts? Let's find out.
Quick Overview of Features
The Rosewill RCM-8163 is a 1.3 megapixel webcam that can capture stills at up to five megapixels via software-based interpolation. This UVC webcam is completely plug-and-play, so you don't need to install any drivers from the CD unless you want some of the camera's special features.
Other highlights include a built-in microphone, auto white balance, auto electronic exposure, auto gain compensation, and support for Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Mac OS X. Rosewill says that it will work fine with MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, Windows Messenger, Skype, and other similar programs.
If you have the software to support it, this webcam will also do zooming in and out, face tracking, and image effects. In keeping with the air of simplicity, the box only contains the webcam (with attached USB cable), installation CD, and a small instructional booklet.
Have You Been Taking Yoga?
In addition to full rotation and articulation within the base, the Rosewill RCM-8163 webcam has also been designed to be as versatile as possible. It'll situation just fine in both desktop and notebook applications.
If you are using it at a desk, you can close the base portion and have it sit comfortably on any flat surface. There is a rubber grip on the base, so you don't have to worry too much about unexpected slips and that kind of thing.
If you are using it with a laptop on the go, you can open the base portion to reveal a clip-like configuration. The front half "hooks" onto the front of your LCD screen and the back half rest on the back of your monitor. It's not a stiff clip, in the traditional sense, but it's quite stable.
While you can capture photos using your computer's software, there is also a camera shutter button on the top of the Rosewill webcam for that purpose as well.
Picture and Video Quality
As a 1.3 megapixel webcam, you'd expect the RCM-8163 to outperform its VGA counterparts. In general, picture quality was just a touch above what you'd get with an equivalent camera phone. Aside from resizing, the test photo above of my Nokia E71 and Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1 has been untouched and unmodified. The camera seemed to struggle in both very bright and very dim lighting conditions. In the former, you'd get washed out in the light quite easily. In the latter, you lose a lot of detail and gain a lot of fuzz.
I shot a sample video using the Rosewill RCM-8163 and you can view it on YouTube. In the video, you can see that the image quality is acceptable for a budget webcam when objects are still, but any movement beyond a snail's pace results in far too much blur and lens flex.
MegaTechie Webcam Pro or MegaTechie Webcam No-No?
Listed with an MSRP of $30, the Rosewill RCM-8163 is a reasonably priced webcam that won't break the bank. It's not the cheapest webcam in the bunch, but it's certainly cheaper than some of those $100+ options that you find from bigger names like Logitech and Microsoft.
The versatile base design is a definite plus, letting you set up the webcam in just about any location. The webcam itself is fully adjustable too, so you can point it in just about any direction. The relatively compact size is a positive as well.
The image quality, both for stills and videos, is nowhere close to what you'd get with even the cheapest refurbished camera. The motion blur is positively horrendous and the poor brightness/contrast capabilities are a downer too. That said, this really is no worse than any other cheap $30 webcam.
Is the Rosewill RCM-8163 worth your hard-earned cash? If you go in with the right expectations (and can find it on sale), then the answer is yes. If you will accept nothing less than the best, you'll need to spend more money and look elsewhere.