UVC Webcam: Creative Live! Cam Socialize HD

This post is about two things: “Universal Video Class” (UVC) USB Webcams, and my specific experiences with the “Creative Live! Cam Socialize HD” – a great camera with a completely unwieldy name.

UVC

Webcams and drivers: what horrible experiences most of us remember.  And if you’re running camera software on Linux the driver problems are only magnified.

UVC (“Universal Video Class” or “USB Video Class”) is a standard that describes capabilities of generic video devices like webcams.  UVC drivers are now built into Linux (Linux 2.6.26 on), Mac and Windows.  UVC webcams can be used directly with Linux and get mounted as /dev/video0 automatically.  No drivers to install!

UVC cameras have been around for quite a while.  (I have an old Aiptek pocket video recorder that can be used as a UVC webcam.)  It seems that more UVC cameras are showing up on the market, but they aren’t always clearly marked. If the box says support for “Linux Kernel 2.6” then it’s UVC.

I found an off-brand UVC webcam at OfficeMax for $20 and brought it to the lab to test with our embedded Linux video server.  Yuck.  The picture jittered occasionally as if there was a horizontal-sync problem.  You get what you pay for!

There is a site dedicated to UVC webcams.  It has not been a great resource for me, but it’s something.

http://www.uvccompatiblewebcams.com/

Creative Live! Cam Socialize

Thus, it was with great pleasure I found a brand-name UVC webcam for a reasonable price.  I found the “Creative Live! Cam Socialize” at Fry’s for $69.  It’s HD with a 720p sensor.  It works great with Linux.  It has a rock steady picture, and automatically adjusts color and lightlevel.  I have been loving this little camera and use it as a stationary surveillance device: I don’t use it to chat.

http://www.engadget.com/2010/11/16/creative-hits-1080p-with-its-live-cam-socialize-hd-webcam-laun/

This week that I found out that Creative had expanded the line and reduced the prices.  The names of the products have only gotten worse though.  Here they are.

  • Creative Live! Cam Socialize HD 1080
  • Creative Live! Cam Socialize AF
  • Creative Live! Cam Socialize Chat

The “HD 1080” is a true 1080p sensor, has stereo microphones and lists for $89.  The “AF” model has a 720p sensor.  The “AF” stands for “autofocus.” It lists for $69.  The “Chat” model also has a 720p sensor and it lists for $39.  I’ll probably be using a lot of the “Chat” models.

This announcement seems to have driven a price-drop on the current model at Amazon.  The old Socialize HD model is available for $37 today.

http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Labs-Live-Socialize-Webcam/dp/B002OAVQJ8

I just ordered two of them.

5 thoughts on “UVC Webcam: Creative Live! Cam Socialize HD”

  1. I need some education on hooking up my Creative Socialize HD cam on my Macbook
    pro
    The camera box listed support for Mac 10.5 but there was no software for mac on the included CD
    The camera will work at all

    Thanks

  2. I happy to see you like this camera. I have had problems with it since I bought it. The problem may be with windows 7 or with skype but if I turn off my pc for any reason the camera disappears. My PC and Skype don’t recognize that the webcam is hooked up. sometimes it helps if I reinstall drivers and other times I just can’t do anything and it will either come back on its own or not. any suggestions on what I may be doing wrong?

  3. Its great to see Cameras working in Linux. Ive checked some very nice ones from Logitech that are still not UVC, as they dont see Linux support important. Genius Webcam have extremelly good Linux support but the really high end models are difficult to get in my country, as the target users for it is entry or mid.

    Anyway, it seems that now this will be one of the options I have to get a nice Camera that is supported in Linux ;)

  4. VERY useful article. Thanks. Still wondering what is difference between “Chat” and “Socialize” models. Maybe lense is better, and work in low light condition or something else?

    Anybody knows how HD 1080 works in Linux at full resolution (and what framerate it achives)? Does it use compression to send data through the USB 2.0, because USB 2.0 is not capable of passing 30 frames 1920x1080x3 bytes per second (= 1423 Mbps, but USB 2.0 have only 480 Mbps minus overheads). Does it use MPEG or JPEG or something in UVC mode?

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