As the number of high-definition webcams grows, products need more than a low price to distinguish themselves. We took the Genius eFace 2050AF for a test run, and found that it fell short of the competition in design and overall performance.
The Genius eFace 2050AF supports 720p HD video chat at a paltry 9 frames per second (some competing webcams managed frame rates of 30 fps in high definition). Unfortunately, the limited frame rate translated into choppy video.
The Genius eFace 2050AF unit can capture 8-megapixel still images, has a built-in microphone and an AF glass lens, and incorporates a 360-degree swivel and a 125-degree up-and-down tilt. It works in accordance with Genius's CrazyTalk software, so be sure to load the program before plugging in your webcam.
The Genius eFace 2050AF is compact and circular, with a dual-hinged pop-up frame. The bottom portion anchors the webcam to your laptop or monitor, the middle section rests on top of your screen, and the top portion holds the lens. The design is clever and sets it apart from other HD webcams, but because the device is so lightweight, we had trouble getting it to stay in place - it felt as though it were lightly resting on the monitor instead of firmly locking to it. It's much better suited to desktop PCs than to laptops.
Another flaw in the design involves the unit's 360-degree rotation: What should be a positive feature of the eGenius eFace 2050AF is actually a hindrance. The USB cable attaches to the back of the camera, so if you do swivel it around the full 360 degrees, the cord wraps around the device and eventually covers the lens. Also, turning the lens causes the base to detach from your monitor, forcing you to reclip, readjust, and then try to spin it again. And unlike the Microsoft LifeCam HD-6000, the eFace 2050 does not rotate fluidly; instead, it has several stopping points that produce a jarring effect that all of my conferencers commented on.
The Genius eFace 2050AF's software is stored on a CD-ROM, but setting up the Crazy Cam features can take a while. We recommend giving yourself a good 20 minutes to get the software up and running. The basic system requirements for using this Webcam are a 2.4GHz Pentium 4 CPU, Windows XP or higher, and DirectX 9.0 or above.
The default settings on the Genius eFace 2050AF are extremely bright, and altering them to make the displayed image seem more natural results in color distortion. Despite tweaking the manual settings several times and playing around with different rooms and light settings, we never found the magic combination to eliminate both these problems. Lowering the contrast and raising the saturation a bit was the best we could do, but even then brightness and colour remained problematic.
Although we noticed a delay and drag in movement, the autofocus worked accurately and subtly, free of the distracting flicker that we've encountered with other HD Webcams we've tested recently. However, the Genius eFace 2050AF's slow movement capture largely overshadows the smoothness of its autofocus.
The CrazyTalk Cam software's special features are extensive and permit you to record and share videos and simple screenshot captures easily. The softwares avatar creation feature lets you turn any photo into an animated Carltoon. You can make the image talk and add motion or sound effects (such as animal sounds or voice warping). These features are fun,but it takes effort to make the animation look crisp.
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