At a Glance
The Bad: Auto Focus on crack
The first thing that’s noticeable is webcam’s Auto Focus. The feature is on hyper-drive -- any sudden movements (a wave, standing up) causes the device to refocus. The refocusing is not instant – it could take four to five seconds to completely refocus. While this may not sound like much, it becomes extremely annoying extremely quickly, and it relegates the device for uses like video chat only -- not creating video content. The higher you set the resolution, the more of a capture delay you experience, and the Auto Focus was triggered even more frequently.
For video chatting, the most optimal setting seemed to be 640 x 360; however, leaving it at this setting completely negates the purpose behind buying an HD webcam. Raising the resolution obviously results in a clearer picture, but unless you’re a statue when you chat, that Auto Focus re-jiggering can be tough to swallow.You can take 4-megapixel still photos with the HD-5000.
Light and Colors
Likewise, the colors reproduction demonstrated as even and accurate in the various lighting. The webcam boasts Microsoft’s new TrueColor Technology, and if you use the company’s software, you have free reign to adjust such things as brightness, contrast, saturation and white balance, among other things.
(Note: How vivid the colors appear can be affected by the type of monitor or laptop display you have.)
The noise-canceling microphone is sharp and crisp when you’re sitting in front of the webcam. It can pick up conversation from at least 17 feet away (in an otherwise quiet environment), but it’s not really meant for that. The sound is perfectly adequate for video chatting.
The HD-5000 has a plastic body to go along with its plastic lens. If you never plan to remove the webcam from your desk, this won’t be a problem. It’s certainly sturdy enough to withstand a fall from the top of a computer monitor, or even from the desk to the floor (I tried it).
It comes with the same flexible, rubber clip found on many of the other Microsoft webcams. The idea is to be able to fold the clip so you can set the webcam on your desk or clip it to the back of your laptop -- both easy enough to do and a nice choice to have.
The HD-5000 seems to come with all the right things -- and I give it high marks for its light and color features -- but I just couldn’t get past that Auto Focus problem. If high-def is important enough to you to shell out the extra dough, don’t skimp and get stuck with a frustrating experience.