Most laptops and desktops you purchase today come with built-in webcams, but if you're looking for an HD upgrade for video chatting on programs like Skype, Google Chat or Windows Live Messenger, Microsoft and Logitech have you covered with the latest batch of 720p cameras.
Though 1080p webcams are available, we chose lower-resolution 720p models that offer impressive video quality at a more affordable price point. These cams are designed to mount interchangeably between a laptop and a desktop, and the general design consists of a small lens built into a swivelling base for 360-degree perspectives.
(Credit: Justin Yu/CNET)
In addition to video chat capability, all three cameras offer photo booth-style snapshots that take advantage of the large image censors to take high-quality photos of you and your friends. Logitech and Microsoft also offer graphical overlays that boost the fun factor with effects that insert virtual masks, glasses and distortions to your face, similar to what you'd see in a carnival mirror.
Our top pick out of the handful is the Logitech C510. The AU$80 camera takes clear 8-megapixel snapshots and 720p widescreen HD video. It also has three key features that set it apart from the competition: Follow My Face, RightSound and RightLight all improve the user experience by optimising the audio and video according to your environment.
A helpful tip before you buy: make sure to take a look at the minimum system requirements to operate the camera. In our tests, we found that using a system with less-than-recommended settings resulted in choppy video and distorted image quality.