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Very seldom does a webcam’s microphone play any part in its quality. They’re usually adequate--and usually ditched in favor of a real microphone for anything that needs that professional touch. Blue Microphones decided to switch it up with their new Eyeball. Instead of a camera with a small mic attached, it’s a mic with a tiny camera attached.
The silver Eyeball is first and foremost a microphone--a very nice one that does a great job of picking up audio. It’s an excellent addition for anyone that podcasts or uses VoIP services like Skype. The microphone is what makes the Eyeball a compelling buy--and in fact, the Eyeball’s mic is very similar to the same company’s Snowflake, which received five stars in our Oct/08 issue.
Unfortunately, the webcam’s video quality is its biggest liability. Video requires steady footing, and unfortunately, the Eyeball’s base was too wobbly to capture steady video when sitting on a desktop. Thankfully, the base is removable and the Eyeball can be attached to the top of many desktop monitors via an included rubber adapter. We would have appreciated a tripod adapter as well, for more flexibility.
The Eyeball boasts a 1.3-megapixel camera that records at up to 1280x1024. The specs are impressive, but in our tests, the actual video wasn’t up to par with other webcams in this price range. Skin tones tended to come off redder than they should be, and the images were a bit dark overall. It’s not a great webcam, but it’s adequate for most applications, after some adjustments to the surrounding lighting.
The camera’s pop-out, pop-in mechanism is a great way to be sure that you’ve finished broadcasting, perfect for avoiding any American Pie-style webcam disasters. With the Eyeball, there is no question as to when you’ve signed off.
The Eyeball is a spectacular microphone with an OK camera added on. If you’re more concerned with sound than you are with video, or you’re in a really well-lit environment, the Eyeball will serve its purpose. If video is your main concern, look elsewhere.