If speakers are the mouthpieces of the PC, then the video camera is the "eye" which opens up a whole new window of visual applications for your computer.
Apart from using it for video-conferencing, a PC camera like the Vcam can also serve as a silent "security guard", keeping an eye on your property when you are away.
The Vcam is connected to the PC camera via the USB (universal serial bus) port which makes installation easy.
Windows 98 will automatically detect the hardware and guide you through the whole Vcam installation process.
The tennis ball-sized PC camera does not require an external power source so there are no extra cables or power adapters to fiddle with.
Even though the Vcam comes with a non-slip rubber pad underneath its stand, I would have preferred it to come with a clip mount so that users can secure the Vcam firmly to the roof of the monitor.
The Vcam uses a Sony colour CCD (charged coupled device) and a high-quality lens to capture images of up to 350,000 pixels and offers the best video capture performance at 30 frames per second and 352 x 288 pixel resolution. It can also capture still images of up to 640 x 480 pixel resolution.
While colour and image quality is good, the Vcam has problems capturing fast-moving action sequences.
For example, if you wave your hand in front of the camera, you will see a blurred image of your waving hand on the screen.
Similarly, when I recorded a 15-second video of myself jumping and waving in front of the camera, I found that the video clip suffered from a lapse of about 14 frames.
Vcam's software package include video-mail software like Live Express and photo-editing software like Ulead's iPhoto Express.
The software package also includes a software which converts the Vcam into a close-circuit security camera that silently records the movements of intruders.
Adli Yashir is a journalist with Berita Harian.