I recently purchased a Philips SPC1300NC webcam, and I don't think that I could be any more pleased with it. It is the current top of the line in Philips webcams, and has some impressive specifications: a 1.3 MPixel sensor (1280x1024), wide angle glass lens, two microphones, and a USB 2 connection to the computer. It has an ingenious base, which can be used as a stand on a desktop, shelf or monitor, or a clamp on a laptop or LCD display. Unlike the "clip" style that is found on the Logitech notebook webcam series, this clamp works easily, and is very stable, even with very thick displays.
The video quality is excellent, with "native" resolution up to 1280x1024 and "software interpolated" resolution up to 3840x3072 for pictures, and 1600x1200 for videos. Of course, I use my cameras primarily with Video chat programs, and in that case the frame rate and light range of the camera are much more important than very high resolutions. The SPC1300 can provide a frame rate up to 90 FPS; I can only say that it runs at 30 FPS in various Video chat programs with no problem. But where it really excels is in low-light and variable-light situations. I have tested it in my office with very, very low light, and it is fascinating to watch the driver adjust the picture until it comes up with a very acceptable quality under what I would consider impossible conditions.
The SPC1300 uses two microphones, and some very impressive noise reduction, to produce sound quality that is consistently the best I have ever heard from a camera built-in microphone. This is one of the few camera/microphone units that I think would be suitable for use with a video/audio chat program.
The USB 2 link to the computer is important for this kind of high-resolution camera. Even with impressive data compression in the camera, there is still a LOT of data to be moved between the camera and the computer, especially at the higher resolutions and frame rates that this camera is capable of.
Drivers are available for both Windows XP and Vista, and the Vista drivers are also available through Windows Update, so if you are running Vista you can just plug in the camera, and it will download and install the latest driver automatically. Note, however, that this will ONLY install the driver, and if you want the VLounge software, you will still have to install it from the CD.
The VLounge application software that comes with the camera is also quite nice. It has the usual picture and video capture capability, and access to all of the special functions and capabilities of the camera. It also has a nice "motion detector" feature, which could be used to set up a room surveillance system. It also has "Coummunicate" and "Broadcast" tabs, which just seem to contain links to other programs or web services to perform those functions.
One of my few complaints about the SPC1300NC camera, and Philips video cameras in general is that they seem to have a special version of VLounge for each camera, and the various versions and cameras only have limited cross-compatibility. I suppose this is not a big deal, as there probably aren't a lot of strange people like me who own and use numerous webcams.
The SPC1300NC is priced approximately the same as the high-end Logitech cameras (Pro 9000 / Pro for Notebooks). The trick is just finding them, because they aren't as widely available as some of the others. It has taken me quite a while to get one of them, but I can honestly say now that I finally have it, I'm glad that I stayed after it.