The 21st century is truly the age of communication. Sites like Myspace, Blogger and Bebo and catering to millions of people daily. Established communications tools like MSN Messenger and Skype are now as vital to the average web junky as their pop tarts and powerade. To help you improve your web presence for a low price, Speed Link has produced the Cyclon, an affordable solution for everyone.
A little about SpeedLink
Speed Link are known for producing a wide variety of products. From mouse mats to headsets and cameras to merchandise, Speedlink are remembered for their quality.
SpeedLink’s Take on the Cyclon Webcam
Your video messaging will know no boundaries with the Cyclon Webcam. Take pin sharp pictures and create high quality videos, or take part in live video conferences and experience live video chat using the latest internet communication programmes like Skype™, MSN® Messenger, Yahoo!® Messenger and many more…
- 1.3 Megapixel maximum resolution
- Photos with an outstanding picture quality of 1280×1024 pixels
- Video mode with a VGA resolution of 640×480 at 30 frames per second
- Continuously adjustable focus from 80mm to infinite
- No delay thanks to full USB 2.0 utilisation
- Weighs 350 gms
- Video capture Format: AVI
- Still image format: BMP, JPG
- Simple USB Connection
- Drivers for Win98SE/2000/ME/XP included
Bits and Box
The packaging of the webcam is simple and professional; showing off the product in the clear plastic front. The front of the box shows three logos, one showing that the camera can be used for web conferencing, one to show the video quality and the other to show that the Cyclon can be used as a still camera.
The back of the box has multilanguage feature lists as well as more detailed specifcations.
Opening the box is easy and inside you will find the camera itself, a mini driver CD, the manual and a small lens cover
Braving the Cyclon
The webcam itself isn’t built to the highest spec and feels a little flimsy. It is quite light which means that unless it’s stuck somewhere; the cable is going to pull it out of place. The webcam is quite attractive to look at and won’t look out of place in most people’s desk space.
The camera has a triangular base which provides the camera with good support, the camera itself is connected to the base by a ball and socket joint which means that you can direct the camera in any direction.
On the top of the camera is a large grey button that allows you to invoke the camera software and to take still images.
There is a small lens cover that isn’t held on very well and doesn’t really do much to protect the camera’s lens. It’s simple but a little bit unnecessary.The lens has a manual focusing ring which allows you to make sure your face, or whatever you are recording/streaming is in perfect focus.
Installation & Testing
Installing the camera is pain-free, requiring you to install the drivers, then plug the Cyclon in where Windows detects it. Now you have a small preview window with controls allowing you to change the image colour, brightness etc.
To test the camera, I used Skype and MSN Messenger. I also used the camera software which allows you to output video at full screen so you can see the noise and any other potential problems much better.
Both Skype and Messenger detected the camera fine, and using it was again, pain-free. The colours where a little off and a quick delve into the webcam settings allowed me to get a better picture, but it was far from the true colours. The image quality is fine for a webcam, and beats the more expensive Creative NX Pro in that department.
Using the camera in low-light conditions made the colours seem to be more true. The usual lower frame-rates were present due to the camera automatically increasing the exposure. The frame-rate was more than usuable however.
Using the camera software, you can see the camera feed in a full screen window (1600 x 1200) where the output resolution of the camera is 640 x 480. This allowed me to see where there were image problems. The edges of objects in the picture were distorted. They seemed to be blurred, as if you were using Smart Blur in Photoshop (I can’t think of a better way of explaining it…). The frame rate in normal office lighting was more than adequate and the streaming video was smooth.
Unless you change the default colour settings, you will get off-colours which makes you look like you’re ill (skin tones are displayed as yellow tinted).
I took a still image using the webcam (1.3 mega pixels), and then with a Sony Erricson W800 mobile phone (2 mega pixels). Below are the results.
The Cyclon shot
Sony Erricson shot
As you can see, the phone managed to beat the webcam hands down. The focus of the image can be negated as the phone has auto focus. The images show the webcams inability to choose the correct white balance which is vital for the correct colouring. The webcam also seems to bleach the colours.
The cost of the Cyclon comes in around the £20-£25 mark which is perfectly acceptable when it comes to looking at cost/quality.
For a webcam, the image quality is very good and you will not have any problems with web conferencing. The still image capture ability is a bit lacking if you are looking for good image quality, but it will suffice for a ‘draft’ picture.
|Budget Price||Not the best image quality|
|Nice Design||Unnecessary lens cap|
|Good for web conferencing|
I’d like to thank our sponsors Meroncourt for providing us with the webcam.
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