Xbox Live Vision Camera

Xbox 360

Review by Matt Paprocki


Web Cam

Overall: 8


Leaving themselves open for the type of controversy fit only for the video game industry, Microsoft has unleashed the Xbox Live Vision Camera. Using a USB port for all its needs (and doubling as a 1.3 megapixel web cam when attached to a PC), this small device opens up Xbox Live like never before. Ease of use, extras, and solid performance make this a new necessary accessory for any user with Xbox Live.

xbox360vision.jpg (11573 bytes)The Vision Camera is available in two packages. One retails at $39.99, the other at $79.99. Gamers on a budget will receive the Xbox Live Arcade game Uno, one month of Xbox Live Gold (which can be used to extend a current plan), a standard first party headset, and of course the camera itself trapped inside finger slicing electronic packaging. The larger pack includes all the above with exception of the Live service. Here, it's been extended to one full year. Also, a second Live Arcade game is offered in Robotron along with 200 Microsoft Points which are worth $2.50.

Once plugged in, the camera lights up with a green ring, exactly like the system and controllers. You'll appear on the backdrop of the dashboard by default along with one of three wild visual effects. A water effect is default, and this can be changed in the system blade of the dashboard to outline the user or bubbles which makes the background look like a giant scoreboard filled with individual lights. These effects are widely varied and interesting to look at.

Custom Gamerpics are now possible. Only viewable to people on friends lists, you can snap a picture of anything and use it to represent yourself. Users with less than mature sensibilities will likely use this device for their own devious purposes. Full parental controls mean the young ones are always protected.

Video chat is the most hyped feature of the lot, allowing two users to do exactly what's stated. Inside a private room, players can do as please. Options include the ability to zoom in, add fun effects, fully pause the chat (which blocks both audio and video), and make the other users controller rumble with the press of either trigger. Oddly, you're unable to affect the other users video stream. If the other user does something "less than desirable," the only way to stop it is to drop out of the chat entirely or look away. A simple option to block the feed for a second or two would be welcome.

The camera offers more than simple social features however. Eventually, it's equipped for gameplay purposes, including the upcoming TotemBall. The camera and your body are used to play the game, like Sony's EyeToy camera. Also, a few Live Arcade games have been updated to support the camera. Bankshot Billiards allows to people to see each other as they play in the upper corners of the screen. The experience was lackluster at best however, with numerous connection issues and video feeds not working. Gameplay itself was smooth once in however.

The camera itself is small enough to fit where you need it and is able to sit in any position thanks to a flexible base. It does get rather hot during use, so it's best to keep it away from the Xbox 360 unit. The lens allows for easy adjustment and perfect focus with a simple turn.

There are few faults with this reasonably priced add-on. For users who spend enough time chatting or meeting people online, this is a common sense buy. It's close to useless for non-Xbox Live Gold subscribers, unless you have to have the camera for picture taking or for use as a web cam (though cheaper options are plentiful in that case). For its solid construction, general ease of use, sheer potential in the future, and cheap price, the Live Vision Camera is an easy recommendation.


Go to Digital Press HQ
Return to Digital Press Home

Last updated: Sunday, November 12, 2006 11:02 PM