Wednesday, 03 July, 2002
Creative PC-CAM 300
I went out and bought a new digital camera today: the Creative PC-CAM 300. Why? Because I wanted a camera that I could take almost anywhere and not worry too much about damaging or losing it. The Canon is a nice camera, but too darned expensive to take mountain biking or on some of my other excursions. The new camera has a couple of other nice features. First, since it doesn't have an LCD, its batteries will last much longer than the Canon's little battery that burns out in a couple of hours. The new camera also will record video (only about 75 seconds), and voice (about 30 minutes), and doubles as a web cam. It's the last that kind of intrigues me. With Yahoo Messenger (or any of the other similar services), you have the ability to do video conferencing. Sure, there's a bit of delay in the voice and video, but for most things that's just fine.
I had a little trouble installing the camera, though. I originally plugged it into one of the USB ports on my keyboard, but the computer wouldn't recognize it. After uninstalling and reinstalling the software (to no avail), I finally checked Creative's web site, and saw a note there about some devices requiring connection directly to the USB controller. I plugged the device into the USB port at the back of the computer, and things worked just fine.
The thing comes with a whole bunch of software, most of which I haven't installed. The Creative PC-CAM Center, though, is a surprisingly good piece of software. It's not fancy or anything, but it has an attractive and very intuitive user interface, without all the bells and whistles that always seem to confuse users and make the programs unstable. This is quite different from most hardware manufactures, whose software usually sucks like an Electrolux (the software that came with the Canon digital camera being a case in point). I hear people bad mouth Creative from time to time, but I've been using their products for over ten years (since I got my first Sound Blaster and CD-ROM), and I've always been pleased. Perhaps they're not the latest and greatest things in technology, but they're always solid and reliable performers. I'll take solid and reliable over bells and whistles every time.