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Xbox Live Vision

Published & Designed by Microsoft
Requires: Xbox 360 or PC using Windows XP (SP2)

2006 has been a quiet time for the release of Xbox 360 peripherals. That’s all about to change though as both the wireless force feedback steering wheel and the wireless headset are both due for release over the next five weeks. One item is already on the shop shelves, the Xbox Live Vision, a camera whose functions are numerous and will only increase as future titles include support for it. Of course the Xbox Live Vision isn’t just for the Xbox 360 and can be used on the PC too.

What’s in the box?

The Xbox Live Vision comes in two different configurations.

Xbox Live Vision (£34.99)

  • Xbox Live Vision Camera
  • Xbox 360 Headset
  • One Month Xbox Live Gold Membership
  • Free download of Uno and TotemBall Xbox Live Arcade games

Xbox Live Video Chat Gold Kit (£54.99)

  • Xbox Live Vision Camera
  • Xbox 360 Headset
  • One Year Xbox Live Gold Membership
  • Free download of Uno, Robotron and TotemBall Xbox Live Arcade games
  • 200 Microsoft Points

As you can see the only difference is that you get a full year’s Xbox Live Gold membership. Of course you’re getting a year’s Xbox Live Gold membership for £25 which represents a saving of £15 which can’t be bad. The camera is capable of capturing 640x480 video at 30 frames per second and still photos at 1.3 megapixels.

Installing the camera.

Assuming you downloaded the Xbox Live Spring update (if you haven’t now is the time to do so) installing the Xbox Live Vision camera couldn’t be simpler. You simply turn on your Xbox 360 and whilst you’re on the Dashboard you simply plug the camera into a free USB port. Because of the spring update your Xbox 360 will already have the Xbox Live Vision software already installed so essentially you’re good to go. To make sure you’re set up correctly, head to the system blade on your Xbox 360 dashboard and select Xbox Live Vision from the menu. Here you can adjust room, lighting and fluorescent settings to give you as good a picture as possible within your chosen environment. Whilst you’re in the Xbox Live Vision settings you can fine tune the quality of the picture by rotating the grey ring around the camera’s lens.

Installing the camera on a PC is very straightforward. Simply plug the camera into a USB 2.0 port on a PC with Windows XP (SP2 or later required). Windows will detect the new hardware and all you need to do is to allow the Found New Hardware Wizard to search online for a driver. It’s that easy.

What can you do with the camera?

Using the Xbox Live Vision camera with the Xbox 360 allows you to video chat (Xbox Live Gold membership required), take a picture and add it to a message, display your face during certain games that support the camera and take a picture to display to your friends instead of the usual Gamertag avatars. The camera can also be used as a motion sensing device which TotemBall shows off quite nicely. Future game releases will also get you to use the camera in other ways. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas will allow you to create a multiplayer character in your own image. The camera is used to take a picture of your face and profile and it then maps the image to the character you’ve created. The potential for such use is enormous and you can just imagine future Pro Evolution Soccer, FIFA, NBA, Tiger Woods or Madden titles that allow you to create a custom player in your own image and really put yourself into the game.  On the PC, your usage will really come down to the software you are using the camera with. We used the camera with Windows Messenger, Windows Live Messenger and Skype with no problems at all.

Performance & final thoughts.

It would be easy to be skeptical of the Xbox Live Vision camera given its fairly low price tag. When you consider that the headset is £14.99 by itself and that you get one month of Xbox Live Gold membership (£4.99) and in addition to Uno (which costs 800 points) it’s easy to come to the conclusion that the camera isn’t of the highest quality. Thankfully this isn’t the case. The build quality of the camera is actually quite impressive.  I found the Xbox Live Vision camera to be a great performer. Using it with the Xbox 360 I was surprised at how clear the image was. Video chat worked well, as did using the camera in Uno. Adding a picture to your messages was also a nice touch and it was rather fun to be able to add effects to the pictures although I suspect most will not bother with this. Performance with the PC messenger programs we tried was also very good and we had no problems at all.

Would we recommend the Xbox Live Vision camera? Without a doubt, even if you don’t have an Xbox 360. We have had the misfortune to encounter several cheap PC webcams over the years and none of them compare to the quality of the Xbox Live Vision. In fact you would be paying a lot more than £35 to come anywhere near the quality this camera offers. Of course being able to video chat on your Xbox 360 and being able to see them in games such as Uno opens up the possibility to be able to sign to your friends, wherever they are. This alone makes the Xbox Live Vision a worthwhile purchase for deaf gamers. All that’s needed now is for future games to make as much use of the camera as possible.

Overall Rating 9/10