Apple iSight is eye catching

Apple iSight is eye catching

The Apple iSight is a stylish Macintosh-based FireWire webcam which delivers outstanding video quality and includes a noise suppression microphone - but be prepared to pay for Apple's styling.

As with most Apple hardware products, the emphasis is on unique design and the iSight is eye-catching. Cased in a cylinder shaped aluminum-alloy exterior, the iSight wins points for looks, and weighs 63g.

It also offers three different mounting options including a plastic stand for eMac's and other desktop computers, a mount for iBooks and PowerBooks and a magnetic mount for LCD monitors, including Apple's cinema displays.

Once mounted, the iSight is adjustable to about 20 degrees in each direction. We found that when it was attached to the top of our iMac G5, the angle of video capture was increased and overall, the iSight felt more like a television than a video camera.

Once we connected iSight to our computer, we were thoroughly impressed with its results.

Particularly important to note was the image quality which is as close to full colour reproduction as we have seen on any webcam.

To top it all off, we found the image was crisp and clear at all times.

The iSight also features autofocus (which ranges from as close as 50mm), while an on-board processor automatically adjusts sharpness, colour, white balance, and exposure.

The autofocus feature was excellent when it focused on a stationary item and even followed moving objects fairly well.

But the autofocus isn't perfect and sometimes focused on the wrong area, particularly when a second person or object entered the viewing area. The image settings such as colour, brightness and contrast are also not adjustable.

While the automatic functions do a fairly good job, we would have liked to have the freedom of adjusting the settings ourselves.

The Apple iSight includes a built-in noise-suppressing microphone and it delivered clear audio during our tests.

Apple claims the microphone takes in the sound and then determines which sounds are essential to the conversation with an algorithm that filters out excessive noise.

While it sounds fairly technical, we can tell you that it does work as well as claimed.

On the negative side, the iSight requires iChat AV to operate all of its functions and this is not included in the package - in fact there is no included software. Furthermore, the iSight is built entirely for use on Macintosh-based systems so Windows users will have to look elsewhere.

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