Monday, September 29, 2008

HTPC Update: Creative Live! Cam optia AF

A part of my plans for a digital home involves setting up a video conferencing facility in the living room so that:
  1. I can get in touch with the kids and family when I'm on overseas business trips;
  2. my folks can interact with their grandchildren when they are not visiting;
  3. we can keep in touch with our relatives and friends who have migrated abroad or out stationed for extended duration;
  4. and lastly, create a platform where we can encourage our kids to explore staging performances (singing, dancing, acting) in front of a camera! (This help build confidence in the child as well as capturing those precious childhood moments)

Although we can pretty much do this now with the integrated camera and microphone on our laptops (we have two of these at home), the experience isn't that great given the poor quality of the integrated cameras (1.3Mp only) and the screen is a little small for a family of five to crowd around to see.

Setting it up on the HTPC however is perfect. We have a 50" display and some pretty good speakers. All I needed is a good quality webcam with integrated microphone and we are all set.

Scouring my favorite marketplace, I managed to pick up a used Creative Live! Cam Optia AF for only S$55. It's about a year old but the condition was excellent.

This webcam features a 2 megapixel sensor, auto-focus, noise cancelling adaptive array microphone and great looks to boot (blends into the living room decor perfectly).

I tested it on my rig and found the picture quality to be excellent. Audio is a little weak but that is probably because I was testing it from a distance of two meters.

The bundled software are also pretty decent and fun for the kids to play with. Overall, I'm happy with this acquisition.

Here's my updated parts list with pricing:

CPU: Phenom X3 8650 HD8650WCGHBOX 2.3GHz Socket AM2+, $0 (bundle with mobo).
CPU Cooler: Scythe SCMNJ-1000 Ninja MINI, S$50 (used).
Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-MA78GPM-DS2H AMD 780G chipset microATX, $355 (SLS Bell Systems)
Memory: Kingston DDR2-800 2 x 2GB Kit, $104.(SLS Bell Systems)
Graphics Card: Radeon HD 3200 (integrated in motherboard the chipset), $0.
HDD: Western Digital Caviar WD5000AACS 500GB SATA2, $101.(SLS Bell Systems)
PSU: Antec EarthWatts EA 430 (included in the case), $0.
Case: Antec Fusion Black 430, $339 (SLS Media Mart).
Webcam: Creative Live! Cam optia AF, $55 (used)

The following are still on my todo list:

TV Tuner: ??
Wireless Keyboard: Logitech DiNovo Edge S$399

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