Shape Services Mobiola Web Camera v3.1.8
Do you like to make online video calls? Well Mobiola Web Camera could be for you! This program lets you use your phone as a web camera. Mobiola captures the camera from your phone and allows you to view it live on your PC. You can use it with conference call programs like Skype, or just record videos and take snapshots. You can also set it to show your phone’s screen rather than your camera, which is pretty useful. Read on to see if it works well!
The setup involves installing an application onto your computer using a normal executable, then installing a CAB to your phone. It’s probably a good idea to have your phone hooked up to your PC with ActiveSync before your run the setup, as the setup can install the application to your phone for you. The installation is very straight forward and is about as simple as it comes.
Firstly, you run the application from your computer, it starts up the simple, yet tiny, GUI. I maybe would’ve liked to see something bigger with a more recognizable approach to what the icons do as I was left hovering over the icons to find out what the icons did. Then you start the mobile application, it doesn’t matter which way around you start the applications, but the desktop application must be open before the mobile one tries to connect.
Pressing on the menu button on the bottom gives you a choice Of "Exit" which closes the application, "About" which gives you the standard about screen you see in applications, "Help" which displays an error message telling me it doesn’t have any help files (not that they are really needed) and the Connect menu.
The connect menu shows you two options, Active sync and Wi-Fi. I will go into the differences soon. They both connect to the desktop program very quickly as long as your phone is on the same Wi-Fi network as the desktop application. Selecting the Wi-Fi menu gives you the option of which computer on the network to select – it only gives you options of the computers with the application open. On the desktop application you can do things like select which video source from the phone you want to use, choose which orientation to display/capture in and set the capture folders.
Using the Active sync method with my Touch HD with the camera, you have the choice to choose either the rear camera, or screen capture. The camera is only shown at 320×240 (or 240×320, depending on the screen orientation). Screen capture is at native resolution however it does show a lot of ‘fuzz’ and has a lot of lag, I don’t expect the movements to be instant, however there was a lot of lag and a very low frames per second.
A similar story was shown over Wi-Fi, the lag in the picture became a lot worse over Wi-Fi than using the cable. Even with my phone and my computer both using wireless G at 52Mbits/sec with full signal to my router.
The computer application does all of the settings adjustment, which is good if you are using multiple phones. You can select which camera to use (or screen capture) and change things like the quality, brightness and contrast with some sliders. By clicking on a color pallet you can add further video changes like a watermark logo, Hue and Saturation changes and mirroring the picture.
In this screenshot of me playing Teeter on my Touch HD, you can see the quality loss from the program with the amount of pixelization on the circles. Check the shots below for two screen captures, the right image is from a screen capture program on the Touch HD and the left image is from a wireless screen capturing using Mobiola. It appears that even the still capture is very low quality.
The mobile application itself doesn’t have any help files. However the desktop has a "?" which leads to the help files, or a nice tutorial to show you how to use it. I didn’t need the help files since the application was so simple.
The CAB is 239KB in size, so it doesn’t take very much space on your phones memory. The application itself was running using 3119kb of RAM, this went up to 3629KB when I made a connection.
BUGS AND WISHES
The program seemed to be a bit buggy, asthe bottom 1/3 of my screen would sometimes become a clone of the top 1/3 and the main background image become very pixelized. This may have been because I am using WVGA resolution, but I don’t see this as being an excuse for an application not working.
The quality of the videos is a big issue. When buying a desktop webcam, I go for at least three of these four things: Good frame resolution, high frames per second, very little lag, no movement blur. Price is also a factor. This software seems to not have any of these things. It may be slightly expected over Wi-Fi, wireless from mobile phones has quite a slow data transfer rate, but over USB? I see no reason why the picture quality cannot be excellent and the FPS high enough.
I think the Wi-Fi is a great feature, and so is the USB, they connect very easily… but what about Bluetooth? I mean with 3Mbps over Bluetooth 2.0EDR I think Bluetooth is a viable option. In fact I’ve used similar software on an old Nokia over Bluetooth 1.1, the quality was about the same as this version is over Wi-Fi.
Another moan at the quality – still image capture. The desktop software captures the frame of the video at the point you click the button, why not make the phone software get the still shot then send it to the desktop software? It seems the program has bandwidth to spare! Surely that would lead to a better resolution picture and much better quality? The same goes for a screen capture, it takes a frame from the streamed source, as you can see from the shots of TF3D on the first page – The quality is very poor – There’s a lot of pixelisation in the image. Why doesn’t the mobile software capture a screenshot locally then send it to the desktop software?
Click here to see the quality from the captured videos (3.1Mb WMV movie), and tell me what you think…
- Use for Webcam or for Screen Capture
- Don’t have to carry round a Webcam
Can be completely Wireless over Wi-Fi
- Poor streaming quality
- Serious picture lag
- A bit pricey considering the price of a cheap webcam
- WVGA Problems
The program worked as advertised. Although the video quality disappointed me I thought Mobiola Web camera for Windows Mobile was a good application if you don’t have a webcam, or want a bit more freedom. It’s also very easy to flip between the camera and screen capture mode, so that you can show something on your phone, or show live video.