WEBCAMS have always been a cool novelty for video on the Net, but now people are using them in business for easy online transfer of photos and video clips, and the occasional video phone call. While not up to the intricate — and complex — standards of expensive network cameras, years of innovation add up to lightweight, easy-to-operate versions fit for notebook-toting travelers. And if you want to broadcast your office antics on the Web, who are we to stop you?


PROS: New USB 2.0 interface allows high-speed video transfers and 1.3 megapixel still pictures. Low-light image capture and spider clip for easy adjusting.

CONS: Takes up a bit more space than the clip-on competition. Requires 256 MB RAM or better.

BOTTOM LINE: If your computer is souped up with RAM, and you’re sold on USB 2.0, this is the model for you.
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PROS: Sharp 1024 x 768 still-image quality, video, and instant messaging. Mounts on stand or directly to computer via a clip attachment.

CONS: You can only use the mike while wearing the attached headset. Transmission quality may be better, but your vanity could suffer.

BOTTOM LINE: Wearing the headphone may look dorky, but a clear connection and quality image are probably worth the (slight) humiliation.
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PROS: Clips onto top of notebook computer, includes instant video messaging, pan, tilt, zoom, and built-in microphone.

CONS: Though it works with all PCs, it’s picky about Macs. Only OS 9.X; no OS X users need apply.

BOTTOM LINE: This solid value from an industry stalwart is easy to connect, set up, and transport.
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