Kritter USB

A Web-friendly digital-video camera in funky coloured plastic with an eye-catching-design and anthropomorphically catchy name. Portable, small, so well-designed it even has a built-in lens cover, and it’s USB. Blow me. Fed up of working nine-to-five? Well, Kritter USB could be for you, if you want to make low-budget movies for the Web – an adult Blair Witch Project anyone? For the hi-tech road warrior about town, you can make that meeting, by way of video conferencing, or chat politely with like-minded adults in CUSeeMe chatrooms. The manufacturer claims its product is most appropriate for the PowerBook generation – yet its funky design is a perfect match for owners of any of Apple’s current crop of machines. It’s lightweight, but sadly, this also means the natural kinks in the USB cable can make the camera unstable, even when you try mounting it above your laptop’s screen. The manufacturers do have a stand for the Kritter, but it costs extra. Digital video eats up hard-drive space, and for some reason, the ReelEyes software package included doesn’t like saving movies over four minutes long. But, the resolution at 640-x-480 is still pretty good. As a Web cam, the Kritter is good. It’s capable of handling quite high resolutions – though it’s not so hot in low-light conditions. Kritter is no slow-mover, capable of capturing video at up to 30fps, and it offers dual-speed (50/60Hz) flicker control. It’s got an Auto White Balance feature, but you can also adjust colour and gamma balances manually. The Kritter offers 640-x-480, 320-x-240 and 160-x-120 VGA video outputs. The Kritter lives for speed, needing a processor at 233MHz or more, OS 8.6 or later and QuickTime 3.0 on-board. The package includes a cut-down version of iRez’s RealEyes software and some handy Web conference, chat and colour adjustment programs. A bundled compression suite would be a nice touch, as you end up with very large files without it – but there are workrounds for this – such as QuickTime 4 Pro.

OUR VERDICT

To pass the time on a rainy day, send a greeting to a friend or relative online, Kritter is an asset. As a portable solution, or just an object for entertainment, it’s great. It’s a digital-video snapshot camera for the masses.

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