Microsoft's LifeCam Studio looks like a CCTV camera from a dystopian nightmare – forget the eye of Sauron, this feels like the eye of Microsoft, and it's pretty terrifying.

Perched on top of our monitor, we were frightened to use our iPads and iPhones while in its gaze, lest a warning light went off in Steve Ballmer's office and Microsoft employees swept into our office to force Zunes into our trembling hands.

Of course, looks aren't everything, and underneath the LifeCam Studio's rather austere surface is a very decent camera. With a maximum resolution of 1080p, the detail and quality of the video it produces is exemplary.

The Truecolor technology included with the device makes subtle changes to lighting and colour that help improve the overall quality of your footage, and can be tweaked to produce the best looking video for your environment. There are also some fun video effects and augmented reality objects that can be added to the live video.

All of this comes at a price. If you're recording at full 1080p HD resolution with effects turned on, your PC's CPU usage will spike, and if your machine isn't powerful enough to cope, your footage will more closely resemble a slow PowerPoint slideshow than smooth, DVD quality video.

It performs perfectly well as a webcam for video chats at lower resolutions, but unless you and your contacts have fast internet connections and no data caps, broadcasting at full HD is out of the question. The LifeCam Studio is much more suited to video blogging.

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