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Microsoft LifeCam Cinema

Webcams are valuable tools for law enforcement.

The capability of video calling and conferencing provides face-to-face communication without the need to actually be there, saving time and travel. Webcam software allows video and audio to be recorded, as well as taking still photos.

Applications for webcams include client communications and briefings, monitoring, recording or remotely participating in interviews and interrogations, and video remote interpretation (VRI).  VRI capability can be essential in situations in which a rare language is involved or when certified or qualified interpreters are unavailable onsite.  

Microsoft® has become one of the top manufacturers of webcams. The LifeCam Cinema is now one of five Microsoft webcams to offer full 720p high-definition (HD) widescreen video capability and is the top of the line. The LifeCam Cinema was awarded the prestigious Design & Engineering Honors award at the International CES (Consumer Electronics Show).

Microsoft now also makes a true 1080p HD webcam. Called the LifeCam Studio, it’s similar in form factor to the LifeCam Cinema. The 1080p version may be overkill for the applications in which a law enforcement webcam would be employed and offers no advantage over the LifeCam Cinema in this regard. The optics on the LifeCam Cinema we tested are superb. It features a high-precision glass five-element F/2.0 lens that provides a clear image without any blurring on the edges. Built-in auto focus keeps images sharp from 4 inches to infinity. A built-in lens hood reduces flare.

The LifeCam Cinema is incredibly small and light in weight. The body measures just 0.9 inch by 2.2 inches. The body is made of aerospace-grade aluminum for durability and to keep the weight down. It is equipped with a permanently attached 6-foot USB cable with a cord management clip. The LifeCam Cinema features a unique, flexible stand that bends to fit on most surfaces, including laptop and desktop PC monitors, or directly on a desk or table. The camera head is adjustable.

It was the first consumer webcam with a native 720p HD sensor. The LifeCam Cinema captures HD widescreen (16:9 aspect ratio) video at up to 30 fps. The sensor delivers 5 megapixel stills. The LifeCam Cinema has a wide, 74 degrees of view, which helps ensure multiple participants in a conversation are kept in view. It’s also optimal for today’s widescreen displays.

The LifeCam Cinema is designed to produce the optimal image under all lighting conditions.  The LifeCam Cinema features auto exposure, auto white balance, and an IR cut filter. Microsoft ClearFrame™ Technology automatically selects the resolution and frame rate to keep the image smooth and clear. The LifeCam Cinema is equipped with a built-in digital, noise canceling microphone. The audio quality on the LifeCam Cinema is quite good for a built-in microphone.  LifeCam software doesn’t support the use of an external microphone at this time.  

The setup is simple. The LifeCam Cinema can be employed as a plug-and- play generic webcam or it can be used with Microsoft LifeCam software for full webcam functionality. The LifeCam software interface is well laid out and intuitive to use. The LifeCam Cinema is optimized for use with Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 R2, which is utilized by numerous corporations and governmental agencies worldwide. 

It is also optimized for use with Microsoft Lync™, Windows Live™ (it has a Windows Live Call button), and works with other messenger services, as well. It is Skype certified. The LifeCam Cinema is compatible with Windows® 7 out of the box, as well as Windows Vista and XP (service pack 2). To sum it all up, The LifeCam Cinema is a top-notch webcam for an MSRP of only $79, making it an unbeatable bargain.

Eugene Nielsen provides investigative and tactical consulting services and is a former officer. He may be reached at

Published in Law and Order, Oct 2012

Rating : Not Yet Rated



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