One of the curses of being a Mac fan is the lack of cheap peripherals that flood the PC market. A special gripe for the Mac user is the lack of affordable webcams. For a simple webcam to be used with chatting, you may find yourself spending over a hundred dollars for what on a PC would cost $20-30. If you’re a student on a budget, you’ll find yourself gravitating to the older technology that most computer users have left behind. On the plus side, Mac geeks tend to be pretty inventive with applets that allow you to cop-opt this old technology into useable items. On the minus side, these older items tend to have the problems that the newer ones don’t. A great example of this divide is the iRez Kritter USB webcam. While it’s somewhat popular among older Mac users, it’s image quality problems and inability to work with popular messaging programs will keep all those but the truly thrifty away.
The iRez is truly a plug-and-play device. It’s tiny and highly portable. Its stand doubles as a cap for the lens, so if you want to take it somewhere you can pack it up fast and plug it right in. It’s ideal for use with laptops. There are a wide variety of different programs that will get your camera working if the old drivers don’t agree with your newer operating system, but that might not be a problem. It’s a sturdy little camera, too.
The main problems come in where image quality is concerned. The pictures it produces are very grainy and not particularly detailed. It will not work well unless you use it in a well-lit area and are able to keep it very steady. You can adjust the focus of the lens in a limited way, but it will not be useful to you if you aren’t using it in a well-lit area to watch a close-up thing. The images just aren’t very good, and that’s all there is to say about it.
Another problem is that it does not like to work with messaging programs. It will not work with iChat at all (which requires a firewire camera) and is similarly stubborn with MSN Messenger. I have only been able to get it to work with Yahoo Messenger. If you use Y!M a lot it’ll be fine for you, but if not, I’d spend a little more and get something nicer.
Overall, the iRez works as a budget solution if you want to chat face-to-face with your far off friends and you can’t afford a nicer camera. It wouldn’t be my first choice, but it isn’t bad for a last resort.