Joystiq hands-on: Xbox Live Vision camera (or: IT BEGINS!)


A small, plain box arrived unexpectedly from Redmond over the weekend containing nothing more than the diminutive Xbox Live Vision camera floating in a sea of amniotic packing paper. No retail box here, just the tiny little camera and its accompanying PR fact sheet ("Microsoft Corp.'s line of Xbox 360™ Authentic Products continues to grow while ..."). The sheet does detail the two bundles that will be released on September 19th, clipped after the break.

We hurriedly grabbed some snaps before hooking up the Vision to the ol' 360 and taking it for a spin around the UNO block ... where IT happened. We've grown (abnormally) accustomed to the sort of blue language one finds while playing outside of the confines of your Xbox Live friends list -- this is of course, entirely different than the blue language you enjoy while playing with your friends, but we digress -- but it wasn't ten minutes before we had our first PG-13 exposure. Read on for the entire, sordid tale (with NSFW pictures!).


The camera can be tilted forwards and backwards and spin a little to the left and right. Of course, this makes it look like a head, giving it an anthropomorphism that immediately endears it to me. This thing totally has to be in the Xbox 360's Transformers cameo.


The 360 Autobot with head attached. Tell me it doesn't look sentient.


It automagically drops in a ghostly video background as soon as you boot it up. No drivers, restarts, or IRQ settings (do they still have those?).


The "Auto (Default)" settings worked best in my office. Most importantly, you have to focus the camera (unless you're going for that Hollywood starlet soft focus look).


UNO, the only Vision-aware title on my box, knows all about the Vision camera. Just so you know that it knows, its got a little camera icon up there.

Note CheapyD's custom-made Robocop gamerpic. His advice to aspiring gamerpic creators: "Get ready to setup a fucking camera studio to get the lighting just right."


Hit up the settings ...


... line up your face ...


... and crop to fit. Of course, if you're feeling frumpy, feel free to leave it zoomed out and unfocused. For the purposes of this experiment, we'll force all of Xbox Live to look at my ugly mug in "Zoom Factor: 2X."


It's only my second round of UNO, and I randomly get paired up with another Vision camera user. Weird, considering it won't be out for another couple weeks. Turns out our camera-enabled friend picked it up on eBay where, no doubt, some unscrupulous Toys 'R' Us employees are making a killing on every pubescent gamer's desire to share the better parts of their reproductive and/or endocrine and/or digestive systems with their peers.

Custom gamerpics are only visible to your friends. Would video only show up if said gamer was on your friends list? Apparently not. Of course, things went smoothly for some time before IT happened. Of course, IT has been prophesied. I was even prepared for IT, just not within my first 10 minutes of playing with the camera ... two weeks before this thing is even supposed to be out. Now, using our anecdotal evidence, if we were to extrapolate the likeliness of this occurence happening once the entire Xbox Live userbase has equal access to the Vision camera, we'd pin the possibility at well over 100%. Like, 142% to be exact.


That was actually his mouth talking, not his, uh ...


I just so happened to have a camera. Smile!

Perhaps a glorified chatroom camera isn't the best fit for the Xbox Live audience. The novelty of video chats isn't lost on us, but we're more excited for some of the camera's advanced features like gesture control and facial rendering. We'll be picking up TotemBall on September 19th when the camera hits retail to tinker with the former and World Series of Poker: Tournament of Champions to tinker with the latter.


Xbox Live Vision (going for $40)
  • Xbox Live Vision camera
  • One-month trial Xbox Live Gold membership
  • Xbox 360 headset
  • Includes free downloads of two full-version Xbox Live Arcade games including the popular UNO card game ($5) and TotemBall, the new 3D platform game from Freeverse and Strange Flavour that is a mixture of platform skills and puzzles
12 Month Xbox Live Vision Gold Pack ($80)
  • Xbox Live Vision camera
  • Twelve-month trial Xbox Live Gold membership ($60)
  • Xbox 360 headset
  • Includes free downloads of three full-version Xbox Live Arcade games including the popular UNO card game ($5), Robotron: 2084, the classic coin-op shooter from Midway ($5), and TotemBall, the new 3D platform game from Freeverse and Strange Flavour that is a mixture of platform skills and puzzles
  • 200 Microsoft Points ($2.50)

This article was originally published on Joystiq.