Creative have an extensive range of webcams, including the high end (and not to mention expensive) Live! Ultra , capable of capturing 640x480 video at a full 30 frames per second (fps) - all the way down to the no-frills Vista series of webcams. Despite its low price, the Creative Vista Pro is reliable, easy to use and works with all the video enabled software we threw at it. If you want to just video conference with friends on your favourite instant messaging program, or grab a couple of shots here and there, the Vista Pro is a cheap, but dependable, solution.
The Vista Pro clips firmly onto any thin support, such as an LCD monitor or a laptop screen. The legs also fold away, allowing the camera to be placed on any flat surface, although we did find the camera to feel unstable when sitting on top of a CRT monitor. To focus the image, users can adjust the focus of the camera by turning the manual focus ring, located around the lens. After plugging in the camera through the included 6" USB cable, we were taken through a simple install process.
The software bundle ncludes Creative's WebCam Center - an all purpose webcam control software that allows video capture, remote monitoring, motion detection, and time lapse video recording. The remote monitoring function allows users to set up the cam as a security device, recording still images and uploading them to a user provided FTP. The interval for recording the still images can set up for a shot every second. Creative also include ArcSoft Multimedia Email and Ulead Photo Express, an easy to use and simple image editing application.
The image sensor used in the Vista Pro is a 640x480 CMOS sensor, which is of a lower quality sensor when compared to CCD sensors. This image sensor is limited to capturing video at 30 fps at 320x240, or 15 fps at 640x480. By comparison, the Creative Live! Ultra is capable of a full 30 fps at 640x480. Running at 320x240, we found the video quality acceptable and the graininess not as apparent due to the lower resolution. When capturing at 640x480 at 15 fps, video lags quite considerably and the graininess is evident.
We tried the camera in a variety of applications, including MSN, Yahoo! Messenger and AIM. The device is recognized as a Video For Windows (VFW) device, and therefore works in any video capable software. This is very handy if you intend on using your own software for streaming video to the internet, or recording effects in your favourite open source software.