PROS / The LifeCam produces clear and natural audio.
CONS / The video is not quite as sharp as comparable models.
VERDICT / This Webcam is a great option for those looking for an HD option but who don’t necessarily want to go all out. It offers good functionality and simple design at a low price.
The Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000 is a midrange webcam that offers a good balance between price and functionality. Although it can’t offer users the very best in image quality and resolution, we found it to perform quite well for most applications. It also comes with a three-year warranty – the longest of any camera we reviewed.
Image quality is a primary concern when purchasing a new web camera. The best webcams can shoot at high resolutions like 1080p while maintaining a steady 30 frames per second. The HD-3000 falls just short of that mark, offering 720p at 30 fps.
Although it’s obviously preferable to have access to the highest resolutions, 720p is high enough for most webcam applications. When we actually tested the image quality of this camera, it compared well to others in its price range. The footage was smooth with good colors, but it was just a little less sharp than we’d like to see.
The audio quality, however, was excellent. In fact, it was probably the best that we reviewed. Audio for a webcam should be both clear and natural. While some of the other cameras might do better with bass tones or stereo recording, none were quite as clear as the HD-3000.
The focusing system on this PC camera is fixed. This means it can’t be adjusted but automatically keeps the center of the frame in focus at all times. It’s not as precise as manual or fixed focus, but it works well provided you stay within the focused area.
As far as other camera features go, there isn’t much. It offers up to 4x digital zoom and that’s pretty much it. There’s no face tracking or motion detection. Most users aren’t likely to miss those features terribly, but it’s certainly a consideration to take into account.
The overall design of the HD-3000 is nice. It’s small, light and easy to mount on a desktop, notebook or desk. It can also pan and tilt which gives you a little more freedom of placement. The only thing it’s really missing design-wise is a tripod mount.
The Microsoft HD-3000 is a solid web camera that gives you exactly what you pay for. It’s not the best camera out there in terms of features or image quality, but for its price it offers decent video and great-sounding audio. If you’re not concerned with pinpoint sharpness or high-res details, then the HD-3000 is a really good option.