The Apple iSight is hands down one of the best webcams we've seen. Its sleek style, great image quality, sensitive microphone and flawless integration with iChat and iMovie make it the perfect complement for any Mac computer. The iSight is more expensive than other webcams we've seen, but it's one of the few options for Mac users who use iChat and iMovie. If you need to use a messaging client other than AOL Instant Messenger or iChat, or if you need to video message with PC-based users, look at the Logitech QuickCam for Notebooks Pro, which, despite poorer image quality, is compatible with Macs and PCs and all video chat clients.
Unlike most other webcams, the iSight comes with no software and requires no more installation than connecting it via FireWire. On your Mac, iChat AV automatically launches when the iSight is plugged in, and if you don't already have an iChat account, iSight will launch a dialogue box that guides you through the account setup. You can use iChat with existing AIM and .Mac accounts, but not with Yahoo, Jabber or Bonjour. On iChat, there's a little green camera icon next to your screen name. The icon will also show up for any of your contacts who have video capabilities -- just click the green button to start a video chat. We also found it simple to use iSight with iMovie -- plug it in and select it as your camera.
As with most Apple products, the iSight is sleek and attractive. Its silver case will best match a PowerBook, and it offers three different mounting options -- a magnetic LCD mount, a plastic stand for eMac and desktop computers and a special mount for PowerBooks and iBooks. Though getting it mounted takes some doing, the camera is fairly adjustable afterwards -- you can move it about 20 degrees to the left and right and 20 degrees up and down.
Most other webcams let you manually adjust focus, colour saturation, brightness and contrast, but the iSight takes care of focusing and adjusting for you. Though some may bemoan the lack of control, the camera took only a second to adjust when moved, and the image quality was always great.
iSight and iChat work wonderfully together -- sound quality was crisp and clear and the microphone even picked up a conversation happening 1.5m away. Images on the transmitting and receiving ends were the clearest we've ever seen from a webcam. Though we noticed a very small amount of noise, the image didn't lag at all, and we had no problem maintaining constant video and sound. With iMovie, the webcam was just as flawless. It recorded clear crisp images at 30 fps, and the sound was of good quality. We experienced problems only when video chatting between a Mac using iChat and a PC using AIM. Though the instruction booklet says it's possible, we could not maintain a connection for more than 10 seconds. Apple's tech support couldn't help us with our setup, but we were able to successfully chat with tech support from our PC using AIM.
Edited by Justin Jaffe
Additional editing by Kate Macefield