Like it or not, many of us use webcams on a daily (or at least weekly) basis these days. But whether you’re video calling for work or you’re chatting with grandma – you want to look good, even if you’re in your study/lounge/kitchen, without having to think about it too much.
And while it’s easy to look good on a webcam that costs upwards of £150 – what if you want good video quality without having to spend too much?
That’s where Creative’s Live! Cam Sync V3 (yes, it’s a mouthful) comes in – it supports video quality of up to 2k (1440p), a 4X digital zoom, two built-in mics, and a very wide field of view that lets you fit several people in one frame.
With decent video quality (as long as you have enough light in the room) and a set-it-and-forget-it mentality, can the new Live! webcam compete in the crowded budget-priced cam arena? The answer is yes – with a few caveats.
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Quick Look – Creative Live! Sync V3 Cam
What is it: An affordable 2K webcam with 4X digital zoom and a few software tricks up its sleeve.
Value For Money
- Decent video quality
- The microphones work very well
- Touch-controlled digital zoom is useful
- Video quality deteriorates when you’re in a low light
- 2K resolution depends on 3rd party software (and not available in many popular video chat services)
- Flimsy bracket
Features and Specs
- Size: 82 x 53 x 58 mm / 95.7grams
- Camera Sensor: CMOS QHD 5 MP
- Video Resolution: QHD (2560 x 1440) 30 fps / FHD (1080p) 30 fps
- Field of View: Up to 95° (diagonal)
- Microphones: Dual built-in Omni-directional
- Cable Length: 1.8m
- Extra Features: Privacy lens cover, Voice detection and noise cleanup via Creative’s app
As a budget-priced webcam, the Live! Cam V3 does its job well, and then some – it’s genuinely plug-and-play (but you might want to tinker with the brightness settings a bit), the wide field of view is useful, and the digital zoom helps when it’s just you in the room. The main downside is that the video quality gets mediocre if you don’t have enough light in your room – so you’ll either need strong lighting, or a more expensive cam.
Who Is The Creative Live! Cam Sync V3 For?
Longtime computer geeks surely remember the name Creative Labs – thanks to their legendary Sound Blaster line of audio cards that’s been around since the 80s.
Now known simply as Creative, the company focuses on a range of consumer tech products – from sound cards and speakers to headphones and webcams. Most of Creative’s devices try to walk the line between good quality and affordability.
When it comes to webcams – that means video quality that’s good enough for casual (or work-related) video meetings in a home setting, for a sub-£70 price point.
The home-setting part is crucial – it’s easy to look good when you have strong studio lights pointed at you. But replace those with soft lighting that comes from the ceiling, and some cameras will turn you into a scary monster lurking in the shadows.
So where does the Live! Cam Sync V3 stand? Somewhere in the middle. It’s better than most webcams that come built-into laptops, and it’s certainly better than a £20 no-name camera you pick up on eBay – but it does have some “requirements” for top-quality video feeds.
When your room is sunny enough, the video looks quite good – even better than the camera’s price level. When darkness falls, however, you’ll need a more direct light pointed at you if you want to keep that high quality – a table lamp or a small key light will suffice – but it’s something to keep in mind.
Even without one, the video quality is still decent – but you won’t look your best without the proper lighting – which is something higher-priced cameras can handle.
Using The Creative Live! Cam Sync V3
As a plug-and-play device, what you get in the box is pretty standard – the camera itself (with a USB connector) and a small instruction manual.
Once you connect the cam to your computer (either Windows or macOS), you don’t need to install any special drivers – your OS will recognise it instantly, and you can start using it in your video software of choice (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, etc.)
The camera has a built-in privacy cover, which is handy if your cam is pointed at you at all times. By using a physical cover, you can be sure no one is “accidentally” watching you when you’re not ready.
The top part of the cam has a touch surface that you press to change the digital zoom levels.
Placing the cam on your computer’s monitor is done by using the bracket – it’s the same type of bracket we’ve seen in numerous webcams by now, and I was never a big fan of this type of base – it works, but if you wiggle and move your monitor too much, or even pull on the camera’s cable – it’s likely to fall.
Once you start using the camera in your video-chatting software, you’ll notice how wide the angle is. That means several people can usually sit in front of it, which is handy if you’re doing family chats.
If it’s just you, the touch-activated digital zoom is quite useful – each tap (4 in total) zooms in, with the picture staying just as sharp.
The video resolution is 1080p by default, but can reach up to 2K (1440p), as long as you don’t zoom in. In practice, you won’t be using the 2K resolution much, because it depends on support from your video software, and not on the camera itself.
So Zoom, for example, doesn’t support that video resolution at this point (even 1080p video is limited to their Business and Enterprise plans at this point).
Therefore even though there are also 4K webcams out there – their use cases – and 2K is included in that – are usually limited to specific needs and speciality software.
As for the regular video quality, if you want to tweak the video and picture settings some more, you can download Creative’s Windows app.
The app also lets you activate two “smart” features – VoiceDetect, which is supposed to turn the microphones on and off when you speak, and NoiseClean-Cut, which removes unwanted background noises from your side (so the other side only hears your voice, rather than the vacuum cleaner in the background).
In practice, I tend to leave these kinds of features to the video conferencing software I’m using, where they will usually work better. The noise-cutting feature in particular is similar to what budget-priced wireless earbuds try to do these days – and like them, it doesn’t really excel here.
So while you can go ahead and play with these functions, my guess is most people will forget they exist after a day or two.
Lastly, as mentioned, the sensor isn’t sensitive enough for low-light situations. And by low light, I don’t mean a dark room – I just mean a typical cloudy day in London, when your home office gets grey.
Again, it doesn’t mean people won’t see you – but your face might get shadowed (even if you shaved properly). It’s not too bad – and was never at deal-breaker level for me – but a small desk lamp directed right at you will do wonders here.
As for sound, the two microphones work very well in my experience, and I never had any issues with people on the other side not understanding me – even if I didn’t sit too close to the camera.
Bottom Line: Creative Live! Cam Sync V3
If you use video professionally – to stream videos, for example, or to film YouTube clips – then you should probably invest some more and get a more capable camera.
But if you’re a casual user who wants to do video calls, look decent, and not have to play with the settings too much – then the Live! V3 cam is a great fit. It’s very affordable, but its quality is a step or two above what you usually get at this price level.
Furthermore, in my experience, Creative’s devices are usually very dependable and can last for years – which is another major plus.
Note: The device was supplied by the manufacturer for this review. As always, this did not influence my unbiased opinion of the product.