The $US100 Microsoft LifeCam Studio webcam has a 1080p sensor that's 2.2 times larger than a 720p webcam. It also has TrueColor, a tech that optimises the image so your video stream look better to the other person. It's pretty good!
Some quick factoids:
• It's a widescreen 1080p image, so you can get more people into the shot at once, for group webcamming • There's a ultra-wideband microphone that captures audio from all over the place • 360-degree swivel for the camera itself • A tripod mountable base if you want to stand it up on your desk or somewhere on a tripod
Right now, the maximum video stream quality for both Logitech Vid and Skype and Windows Live Messenger beta is 720p, so you can only do video calls at 720p. The LifeCam Studio doesn't currently work with Skype's beta, but it does with Windows Live Messenger. All these video suites should be upgrading to 1080p somewhere along the line though, once processing power and internet connections get to a point where they can handle it. It'll be a few years, so for now, you can use this camera as a 1080p local recording device.
I had a chance to test out the cam with a Microsoft engineer, and from what I saw, the quality is pretty darn good. The LifeCam studio readjusts for sub-optimal lighting situations so that your face is exposed correctly and not blown-out or underlit. Considering that most people don't light their faces properly when on video chats - lights behind the webcam pointing at you - it's good to have something that takes care of it for you.
As for the look of the webcam, it hasn't changed from the previous LifeCam Cinama, other than the shield to block direct light falling onto the lens, so if you like those, you'll like this. [Microsoft]