Although Microsoft would really like it if you used the camera with its own IM client, the LifeCam VX-7000 works with other IM clients that support video conferencing, including Skype. Video quality on Skype was indistinguishable to that using either of the laptop webcams from Creative or Logitech -- not great but more than passable with decent colour levels and relatively smooth movement. The same can be said for audio. When seated at the proper distance from the webcam's microphone, the LifeCam VX-7000's delivers clean sound.
The camera's 2-megapixel sensor struggled when recording video at any of the four available settings above 640x480 pixels -- 800x600 pixels, 1,024x769 pixels, 1.3 megapixel (1,280x1,024 pixels), or 2.0 megapixel (1,600x1,200 pixels). The higher the resolution we used, the choppier the video became. Only at 640x480 did we see smooth movement, but at this resolution (and lower) the image was beset with digital noise. And we were testing the camera in the afternoon on a sunny day in a room with many windows and the lights on.
The situation got worse when the sun went down. Microsoft doesn't have anything akin to Logitech's RightLight technology, which produces a clean, balanced, well-lit image in all lighting scenarios, including a dimly lit room. Digital noise mars the video of the LifeCam VX-7000 in most lighting situations.
The LifeCam software gives sliders for adjusting brightness, contrast and hue, for example, but there's no option to have the software optimise the image given current lighting conditions. You're forced to tweak the settings manually or return to the default setting. There are boxes next to each for Auto, but all are grayed out, save the box for white balance, which didn't seem to do anything anyway.
It seems sloppy on Microsoft's part to litter the QuickCam settings windows with Auto check boxes that you are unable to check. There are 16 Auto check boxes, only one of which (white balance) you can actually check. No amount of adjusting corrected the flaws previous described.
Only regular users of Windows Live Messenger or Live Spaces bloggers should consider the Microsoft LifeCam VX-7000, and even then, we'd recommend Microsoft's cheaper laptop webcam, the .
At its list price of £45, the LifeCam VX-7000 cannot compete with Logitech's excellent £60 webcam, the . The Logitech camera boasts far superior image quality, and Logitech's QuickCam software offers more functionality and a better interface.
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday