Keep several eyes on things with Active WebCam

Monitor multiple Webcams and video feeds with this versatile shareware.

Welcome to my underground lair, Mr. Bond! How clever of you. But perhaps you didn't realize that I am watching your every move on multiple cameras at once, thanks to PY Software's Active WebCam? It monitors and displays multiple video capture streams simultaneously, and it records video at up to 30 frames per second. And I can use it to stream live video of your impending doom on the Internet! Too bad you didn't know that this versatile Webcam manager is free to try with nothing more than a nag screen, and affordable to any international supercriminal!

Actually, Active WebCam is almost that much fun, and much more versatile. It detects, monitors, and records video from just about any video source, including USB Webcams, analog cameras connected to video capture cards, FireWire video feeds, TV card output, and networked cameras. It can broadcast real-time audio and video to your Web browser or another copy of Active WebCam. If it senses motion, it can sound an alarm, send e-mail alerts, and record or broadcast video. There's even a Dial-Up Connection option, something many users around the world still need but rarely get. You can edit clips, add text, manage different users, and log in remotely, too.

When we started the program, it opened with a splash screen offering a menu of choices: Create New Camera, Search Cameras, Open All Video Capture Channels, Open Session, Create Web Page, and Read Tutorial. The extensive Help options include the Getting Started tutorial as well as a User Guide, a "How Do I?" section, and Technical Q&A. By far the easiest way to set up Active WebCam is to let it automatically detect your Webcams and other video devices. Each feed appears as a thumbnail in a scrolling preview bar above a main window that displays two active feeds simultaneously in its default mode. Even our video card's output showed up in the preview. We had fun with Active WebCam, but it's also a serious security tool that makes it incredibly easy to set up a video surveillance system that you don't have to be a supervillain in a James Bond movie to afford.

Editors' note: This is a review of the trial version of Active Webcam 11.5.

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