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Lower cost options squeeze into the frame


We all know prices fall quickly with ICT products, but a digital camera for pound;59.95! Do you really get what you pay for?

Made for rough and tumble, the JamC@m Digital Camera 2.0 has a heavy duty outside case with macho appeal, and it is certainly robust. It is not bogged down with controls, just pure point and shoot, all powered by a single 9-volt battery.

At pound;60 you are not going to get state of the digital art, but you wouldn't get that for pound;600. What you do get is something you can put straight into the hands of kids. You will draw in some pupils who will find this to be their way to communicate. The image quality, unless you are in bright sunlight, can be disappointing, but you can improve it with the software.

It is easy to get the images out of the camera and into your computer. You have leads that will connect to the USB or the 9-pin serial port. You can choose the quality of the images, and by doing that determine how many images can be stored in the camera before downloading. At the highest quality (640x480 pixels), you will get eight images, at the lowest resolution (240x180 pixels) you will get 42 images. Standard resolution is (340x240) and that gives 26 images.

The software that comes with JamC@m is Hot Shots, a package which proves to be more fun at working with the images once captured, than capturing them in the first place.

My advice: try before you buy.

JamC@m Digital Camera 2.0 from TAG Developments

Price: pound;59.95 (+VAT)

JamC@m: Online star rating

Suitability for purpose ***

Ease of use ****

Value for money ***

Styling *****

Weight *****

Logitech QuickCamPro

WITH THIS inexpensive video camera, anyone who wonders how to take pictures on a computer and send video in emails will soon treat it as old hat. Want to show the school live at work on a Web page? No problem, it's easy.

There have been "Web cam" cameras before, but what is special is that the QuickCam Pro offers a higher screen resolution (that is 640x480 dots) than before. It also adjusts the colour and brightness automatically. Lighting the subject well pays off with good pictures or mini-movies. The Logitech software does the fiddly work in the background - it saves files, helps select shots and assembles it all as a Web page. Given the right details, it will send it all to your website.

Schools using email to correspond with peers far away will gain the most: they can now "show" what they're doing in video emails. Again the software takes care of all this.

Another feature, Motion Detector, could be a real hoot. Point the camera at the class and go for a break: while you're away it will check the scene for movement, and then a ping will sound and it starts filming if someone leaves their seat. Change the ping sound to a recorded: "Get back in your place!" and you'll be well on your way to superteacher status.

Fun aside, and after you've used Microsoft Netmeeting - software that lets you videophone over the Internet - there's something here to add a little magic to classwork.

Logitech Quickcam Pro - USB connected computer camera

Price: pound;117 (Street price: pound;75 + VAT)

QuickCam Pro: Online star rating

Suitability for purpose *****

Ease of use ****

Value for money *****

Styling ****

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