At just £19, the Hercules Dualpix Exchange is everything we want in a webcam – without any rubbish thrown in on top.

We've had webcams darken the doors of PC Advisor Towers that cost four times the price of the Hercules Dualpix Exchange; we've had those that bundle every feature imaginable, such as gimicky backgrounds and tacky video effects. We've even had ultra-stylish webcams that wouldn't look out of place in an Apple iFan's bedroom. But, at just £19, the truly affordable Hercules Dualpix Exchange is everything we want – without the rubbish thrown in on top.

Indeed, comprising a single disc to transport the PDF manual and Hercules Webcam Station SE software, even the Hercules Dualpix Exchange's packaging has a no-nonsense feel to it. Installing the bundled application is straightforward and completed in seconds, while the driverless Dualpix works straight out of the box.

The Hercules Dualpix Exchange itself is small and subtle – it's a device you'd proudly leave on display.

Using a front foot and universal hinged clip, it's easy to attach the Hercules Dualpix Exchange to a screen or to sit it on the desktop. And, at 1.8m, the hardwired USB cable is lengthy enough for most PC setups.

The hinge is sturdy, holding the Hercules Dualpix Exchange firmly into place – without being overly stiff.

The Hercules Dualpix Exchange offers full 360-degree rotation and 60-degree vertical movement, allowing you to easily capture your most flattering angle on screen.

The bundled app includes an intelligent 'travelling' zoom feature, zooming in on and following your face as you move away from the device. It's here that the Hercules Dualpix Exchange falters ever so slightly, as we found video recorded at its maximum resolution of 1,280x960 (at 30 frames per second) not as smooth as it could be. However, lowering the resolution improves the results.

At its maximum 3x digital zoom, anything that isn't immediately in front of the Hercules Dualpix Exchange lacked the magnificent clarity that first wowed us about the Hercules Dualpix Exchange. Given that most people consider it rude to walk away mid-conversation, we're prepared to let that one slide.

Otherwise, the Hercules Dualpix Exchange's generous (for a webcam) 2Mp camera captures quality images. There's plenty of options for altering the contrast and brightness, gamma, saturation, sharpness and exposure – images are decent even in low light.

NEXT PAGE: picture quality, shot modes and expert verdict > >

At just £19, the Hercules Dualpix Exchange is everything we want in a webcam – without any rubbish thrown in on top.

The Hercules Dualpix Exchange is capable of a genuinely flattering picture which is, of course, the most important purchasing consideration. The Hercules Dualpix Exchange's focus can also be controlled by a dial on the front of the device; everything else is controlled within the software.

The Hercules Dualpix Exchange's various modes include single shot, video capture, a self timer (up to 10 seconds) and burst mode, where you can capture up to 20 shots at intervals between one and five seconds. It's simple to alter the resolution and to optimise your video for email in a single click.

Direct links within the Hercules Dualpix Exchange's software allow files to be saved to disk or circulated via email; one-click settings offer automatic file conversion.

It's nice to see a built-in mic and, with it, a handy level to show how much sound is picked up. Volume on the Hercules Dualpix Exchange can be controlled from within the software, although it would've been nice to see a privacy option to switch it off altogether.

NEXT PAGE: image gallery > >

At just £19, the Hercules Dualpix Exchange is everything we want in a webcam – without any rubbish thrown in on top.

Hercules Dualpix Exchange
Hercules Dualpix Exchange
Hercules Dualpix Exchange

Hercules Dualpix Exchange: Specs

  • 2Mp camera
  • 3x digital zoom
  • USB 2.0
  • built-in mic
  • Skype and IM client compatible
  • video 1,280x960@30fps
  • auto face tracking
  • 1.8m USB cable
  • two-year warranty
  • requires 1.1GHz processor, Windows XP SP2/Vista, Webcam Station Evolution SE, 256MB RAM, 300MB hard disk space
  • 2Mp camera
  • 3x digital zoom
  • USB 2.0
  • built-in mic
  • Skype and IM client compatible
  • video 1,280x960@30fps
  • auto face tracking
  • 1.8m USB cable
  • two-year warranty
  • requires 1.1GHz processor, Windows XP SP2/Vista, Webcam Station Evolution SE, 256MB RAM, 300MB hard disk space

OUR VERDICT

If you're looking for a stylish and fully functional webcam that's simple to use, and you don't want a handful of gimmicks bumping up the price, the Hercules Dualpix Exchange will be right up your street.

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