The Camball at first glance is a tiny webcam, but you really need to get to know him before realizing this isn’t simply your Logitech webcam plugged in at home.
Starnex, the company that makes the Camball has dubbed this camera the “World’s Smallest Camcorder”, and I am not in any position to doubt it. For all the simple yet useful features that it has they manage to place and integrate them all in a way that makes it fairly logical to use. At first glance it may seem a bit difficult to operate, but thankfully they have included the handy quick start guide.
Before plugging the camera into your computer, it is recommended that you install the included driver’s cd. Intelligently, if you have an older version of the Camball’s software, it will ask if you wish to download the latest from the internet. Since I did have an older version, I went ahead and did so. At that point it asks you to plug the camera in. It automatically checked which firmware the Camball I had was on, and asked if I wanted to upgrade that as well.
Once both my software and firmware were done automatically updating, it brought up a very feature rich piece of software they have simply called Camball Manager. Camball Manager seems to have been created to tweak and customize specific settings that you would not be able to normally control on such a tiny device itself. All the regular options you would expect on a webcam such as brightness, resolution, frames per second, night mode, and video quality are present. There is also a very cool feature imbedded into the software which allows you to log into your YouTube account and upload multiple videos from the camera directly without having to go to the YouTube website.
There is also a motion sensitivity recording mode where you can have your Camball in power saving mode and it will automatically activate when there is a certain amount of motion. You can tweak the sensitivity level in the software. Some other handy features worth mentioning are an auto power off, LED display timing, and the spy-cam like all-day record function which will auto activate the Camball’s recording for certain times of the day.
Using the Camball for the first time may take some getting used to. The Quick Start guide is a must when operating the camera the first few times. They have created a sort of LED blinking system with two different colors so that you are able to tell exactly what you are doing as you have no screen to view with. You are able to plug the Camball directly into a TV if you’re finding it difficult to see what your Camball is actually doing, which shows you a menu and selections visually.
When taking photos or videos, it was as simple as holding down the middle circular button for two seconds to turn it on, and then selecting Camcorder mode by holding the down arrow or mode button which causes the LED’s to blink and turns the mode LED off letting you know you have selected the correct mode. If the up arrow or REC LED is off, you are in snapshot mode. If you hold the up arrow again for 2 seconds, it changes to Red+Green for video mode. Taking photos is as simple as pressing the button once which the LED’s then blink to let you know, or if you set it to video mode, it will start recording right away. Pressing the middle button will stop recording. I wasn’t able to pick up the button combinations easily without the quick start guide in my hand telling me what to do, so don’t worry if you don’t pick it up right away.
Quality is fair and what to be expected for a camera recording in 320x240. Tweaking the quality settings to high and very high is recommended if you want a good picture. The Camball itself contains a 128MB internal memory, but if you are recording some length of video on the go, I would definitely recommend getting a microSD card for you to film on. The bonus of the Camball with the microSD is that it can also be used as an mp3 player as the Camball does come with its own set of headphones to use.
If all this button pushing on the Camball has got you confused, attached to the USB cable is a standard RCA jack that allows you to plug into your TV. This allows you to see a menu on screen that is a lot easier at times to figure out than the up and down arrows followed by LED blinks. Overall, with the price and size of the Camball you are getting a tiny decent wireless webcam with cool added features such as mp3 playing and direct YouTube uploading which I suspect it will make this item fairly popular.