In this age of Big Brother and home-cooked voyeurism, MSI's new StarCam 370i is ready to facilitate all your snooping tendencies. This webcam can do just about anything except make the tea, but MSI has stuck to a cut-throat price that will shock the competition. A great buy.
The StarCam's big eye is a touch cheesy, but sci-fi aficionados will love it - we think it looks great. And top marks to MSI for putting the eye on a long metal stalk that can be repositioned with ease. The base should have been much heavier, as the cam head will fall over if it's tilted at an extreme angle, and the USB lead is very short. Depending how close together you keep your tower case and monitor - on top of which you'll probably put the cam - you might have to rearrange your set-up.
Image is everything
The 370i's Cmos sensor can offer live video feed and image capture at 640x480 - or up to 1,280x1,024 interpolated, but we recommend sticking to the 640x480 for the best results. Image quality is only average, but you get what you pay for. You can tinker around with saturation and contrast using the MSI driver utility but the effect is minimal.
Video capture is a pretty miserly 352x288 at 30fps (frames per second). While you can bump this up to 640x480, the fps drops to 15, and this simply isn't watchable.
MSI has added a built-in mic for audio capture (superb for online chatting), a couple of LED lights for dark conditions, and an impressive infrared sensor so you can use the webcam in the dark. Now who'd want to do that? Use your imagination.
Actually, what impressed us most about the StarCam was the My Guard software, which turns it into a motion sensing surveillance tool. Set this up, and if anything crosses the webcam's field of view you'll know about it, via email or text alerts.