Advantages Size, cheap, simplicity, standard AAA battery type
Disadvantages Resolution, possible problems with driver software
This is one amazing little gadget that I was pleased to receive for Christmas. It is no larger than a matchbox, yet it produces some pretty darn good photos (max. res. 352 x 288). Not only that, but you can use it as a webcam too!The most amazing thing about this little beauty is its simplicity. Once you have installed the driver software you point, click, connect, and download - that is all that there is to it.
There is no LCD display, like you would expect on larger and more expensive cameras - but then you can't expect everything for 40 quid. The viewfinder, which slides neatly away inside the body of the camera, is adequate for most shots - but gets a bit tricky to use accurately at close quarters.Power is provided by means of a standard AAA size battery - so you won't need to trek to a specialist camera shop to get a new one!
The focal range isn't bad either - close ups are in good focus up to about 50cm. However, at long range, the edges start to get a bit fuzzy.The camera has a continuous shoot mode, which allows you to take short video clips whilst away from your computer (distinct from the webcam mode, which requires the camera to be connected to a PC). The clips are easily downloaded to the PC and converted into AVI files using the supplied software.
I have found a few niggles, which are: i) The reliability of the USB link is a bit shaky - sometimes takes several attempts to get the photos off the camera (could just be my USB hub, or the software, I'm not sure). ii) The camera will not take a photo if it thinks the lighting is too dim (it will just beep at you).Overall, this thing is an excellent little gadget for the price - go out and get one before they all go!!!
24/01/2002: Additional Information....I have discovered the cause of the USB reliability problem. It is down to the VIA chipset used to implement the USB ports on my cheap and nasty motherboard. The solution is to buy a decent USB PCI card, which has fixed the problem so that I no longer have any trouble downloading the images from the camera.
27.10.2002: Update...If you are considering buying a L'Espion, take a look at the new L'Espion Xtra - it has better resolution (0.3MegaPixel) and a proper viewfinder. Selling for around 46 quid at the moment.
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|Ease of Use|
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