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TerraCam USB TerraTec

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Review Some webcams try to incorporate all the functionality of small digital cameras. They come with batteries and internal memory, so they don't have to be tethered to a PC. These additions push the price up and often result in a product that's a bad digital camera with webcam capabilities rather than a value-for-money webcam. The TerraCam from TerraTec doesn't try to be anything other than a well-made, low-end webcam for desktop and mobile computing. Its price undercuts most of the competition, yet it comes with enough software to maximise its versatility.

The TerraCam USB has a clip attachment for use with a notebook. Alternatively, if you want to put it on a PC there's a weighted stand, which is useful as the TerraCam itself only weighs about 50g and could easily slip off your PC without the base.

The maximum resolution of 352x288 is half of what's on offer from a lot of other webcams and the result is blurry, even on the top 30fps (frames per second) rate. It's fine for taking stills, but we found it requires the user to sit very still in front of the cam if you want a halfway decent photo. Fortunately, shots can be touched up with the basic PhotoExpress package and it does have a manual rubberised focus ring for sharpening up an image.

What makes the TerraCam a worthwhile buy is the software. It doesn't quite have the spycam credentials of Sony's brilliant CMR-PC1, but it does have great surveillance software. This gives the TerraCam motion detection capabilities; as soon as there’s movement in its field of vision it rattles off low-resolution Jpegs with the time and date stamped. Good for cheap security - as long as would-be thieves don't spot your PC when they're stealing everything else.

On top of video mail and LiveSnap for emailing video and stills, the TerraTec also features Netmeeting, a business application for live video-conferencing. Surprisingly, though, the TerraCam isn't compatible with Windows 2000 - the OS of choice for many business users.

A well-priced, versatile webcam, the TerraCam does just what it says on the box and no more. But that's not a criticism, this is a simple and cost effective product, which dispenses with bells and whistles to keep the price low. ®

Info

Price: £28.50
Contact: 020 7923 1892
Website" www.terratec.net

Specs

Video capture speed: 30fps
Max resolution: 352x288
Dimensions: 47x47x55mm
Weight: 50g

Scoring

Build quality: 7
Features: 7
Value for money: 9

All details correct at time of publication.

Copyright © 2001, IDG. All rights reserved.

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