ArcSoft WebCam Companion
Full user review
"WEBCAM COMPANION 4--A WARNING ABOUT ARCSOFT"
There is a lot in common with WebCam3::
The User Interface is simple. You select Filming or Editing functions and can make light/speed adjustments. The icons are large. You can easily edit and trim your webwork, take a still photo, add a few effects.
like most ArcSoft products, WebCam 4 is an acceptable software answer for novice to slightly experienced, it has only a few adjustments possible for filming. 2 or 3 of the effects are great--the others are cheesy. BUT IT IS THE COMPANY that fails.
Like WebCam Companion 3, (which is how I started out webcamming), this latest offering from ArcSoft has a nice, user friendly look and feel. It is simple to learn the basic functions...since that is all there are: basic functions. With no quick reference for light/speed settings, it becomes hit or miss at first how everyone will look smiling at grandma 3000 miles away. But the editing component is effective in giving you the tools needed to make a decent presentation video, including taking still photos from the video, cropping and trimming,ARCSOFT fails again to provide any Customer Service. After submitting the rather long piece above, I continued to try to get assistance for ArcSoft to get the MagicI Special Effects to work. Other than just plain ignoring me, they once sent code to me in an email. No clue what the code is for, what to do with it...And they did not respond with any answers. Turns out it was their version of SPYWARE. It "installed" something called ArcConnect (which does come with most of their purchased products. But I never knew it was on my computer--part of the boot up programs--sending them information about my use--or inability--to use their products.
The special effects are a few from a separate package," Magic-i2, Special Effects". These are effects that you can use while you are transmitting. Dad can have "flames and smoke" come out of his mouth when he speaks, Junior can have his closeup and there are some regrettably cheesy "frames" within which your film will play (a TV screen, A zoo cage, etc). If I were you, I'd practice using the effects before I started a transmission since most of them work only if you have your face aligned just exactly in the correct spot for the camera to catch the effect. The settings allow for a web cam that is built into a computer (like a netbook) to be as functional as one that attaches to your computer.
All in all, for the price, you can do a lot worse.
UNLESS YOU HAVE A PROBLEM. Any kind of problem with the product will run you slam into one of the worst Customer Service departments on the Internet. Suppose for example, your credit card was charged too much. Wish to talk with Financial Services? Sorry. Customers ARE NOT ALLOWED to speak with Financial Services and Customer Service will tell you they have no access to your account transactions. Heaven help you if the software doesn't install properly. I am in my 5th month of trying to get the Special Effects that accompany this WebCam Companion software to work.
I have been ignored, brushed off, and basically told this: "We got your money, you got no receipt from us and no Activation Codes so the software doesn't work....but what do you want from us?"
You will get conflicting instructions depending on who answers the phone or knows the product.
And heaven help you if thinking that talking to a supervisor will help.
At ArcSoft, supervisors are promoted to that level based, I firmly believe, on how disrespectful, rude and dismissive they can be to their own staff (as a role model for how their staff should treat you).
If you seek Support Services, don't expect anything to happen for at LEAST 2-3 months in terms of help resolving issues that come up.
The staff is quite skilled at acting, (as if they "understand" what your problem might be). But they do not have the resources or the time to give to callers and will often end a call simply because "their time is over for tonight". or a break is due. All of which is fine and legal. But to say they have no truly effective solutions or workarounds is ridiculous.
I have exchanged emails with them since late September on this latest fiasco--they first denied receiving the forms I had filled out ON THEIR SITE requesting help until i uploaded screen shots. Then they stated that I must have bought a new computer and so the program wouldn't work on a different device (except I had the same old device as before)....and on and on.
It's too bad because ArcSoft is one of the only software companies that will truly let you try a product for FREE...no watermarks or 75% of the completed project...you get the full program...just pray when you buy it that it works.
BTW: Purchasing a product either from their online store or by downloading it is NOT equivalent to purchasing AND registering it. You must go to their site and fill out the appropriate form. Then--and only then--do you have any kind of protection from them.And even if you do have the registration current, they may still charge you $10.00 per call to discuss an issue (even an issue they cannot address or fix).
Updated on Aug 1, 2011
I left it on, hoping they would see for themselves my problem. But nothing. No response to repeated queries. This is the Customer -Service- from -Hell Training Site. In the reply to my original diatribe, a reader suggested an equally adequate and FREE program. Check out her reply.. Good luck to all of you stuck in Arc muck.