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XBOX Live Vision Camera
Microsoft's first venture into gesture-based gaming. Is it a hit or a miss?

Labeled With  Live Vision Camera XBOX Live XBOX 360
Written by Josh Lowensohn on Wednesday, October 11 2006

So maybe one of the worst kept secrets during the XBOX 360 launch was the mysterious webcam. Little more was told or known about it following the launch besides a small photograph and an appearance in an accessories marketing video. After a few internal redesigns and a software update to the 360’s dashboard, we’ve got what is now known as the Vision camera. From a communication perspective, the Vision cam serves two functions, letting you add 1.3 megapixel images to your XBOX Live messages and giving you 30 frames-per-second video conferencing at 640x480 (VGA) resolution. For gaming, the Vision is blending in real-time camera windows of gamers to games like UNO, and gesture-based gaming in titles like Totemball. But how is it?

Out of the box, the Vision cam comes in two bundles. The entry level package includes the Vision cam, a month of XBOX Live gold, UNO and a fresh XBOX Live communicator headset. The premium package ups the ante with a 12-month subscription to XBOX Live, Robotron 2084 and 200 Microsoft Points to use on XBOX Live Marketplace. Interestingly enough, Robotron has no camera support whatsoever, which makes it an unusual choice as a pack-in with titles like Texas Hold Em’ making use of the camera functionality. The USB 2.0 cable is nice and long, but a bit heavy with a few crimps that never seem to go away. This wouldn’t be a big deal, but if you’ve got the super light camera on a flat surface, the cord will often tilt the cam after positioning it.

Plugging it into the 360 is a snap with the two USB ports on the front, and MS intelligently made the USB plug handle extra long so you can get a grip on it without having to pull it by the cord. At first I thought it looked bulky and cheap, but you’ll wish all USB plugs were this long after having to plug and unplug it several times if you’re trying it on different devices. Right away the 360 noticed the camera and the image showed up with a neat ripple effect on the dashboard. This can be changed to be “edgy” or be given a newspaper, dot matrix-like effect. My personal favorite was the edgy mode, where the super contrasty background picked up most of the details of my living room with ease.

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