Some things I agree with
(or not as the case may be)
Monday, January 7 Vimicro USB PC Camera 301x drivers - free
Always nice to have something for nothing... I have a really cheap webcam (one of those purchases you make from eBay because hell, even if the thing never arrives, it only cost a few quid so it's no big deal). Anyway, various people sell it under a variety of guises, but in its OEM form it's a Vimicro USB PC Camera 301x.
Drivers for this thing used to be fiendishly hard to find, too (the most Google-popular ones were also infested with a nasty little virus, which I found out the hard way). So, when I decided to hook the webcam up to my new fileserver to act as a CCTV camera while I was away on holiday, I decided to take a fresh look and see if I could find some clean drivers for it.
Loads of Googling eventually took me to a (really quite unhelpful) page on Dowan.org, dating from 2005, where the author had put a link to a paid site where you cough up a few quid and you get the drivers. Loads of people were either asking for a copy of the drivers (which are really tiny filesize-wise), and the author was just telling them to pay up and download them. Makes you wonder whether she was getting kickbacks from each purchase...
However, I'm a great believer in free (as in both beer and opensource, but that's another story). Anyway, I refused to pay money for these drivers (paying for drivers? come on, seriously)... So, on a whim, I checked the Vimicro site, which had previously been scant on both information and driver downloads or any kind of support. However, they now have a revamped web site, but the downloads section is still quite confusing (it lists drivers by chipset, not by camera or model).
What got me excited was that they now have a really handy utility which will detect the correct driver for your camera and download it automatically - just by plugging the device in to a USB port and running the utility! Here's what their web site says:
If you are not certain about which PC Camera processor that your PC Camera uses, then please download the Detection Tool of Vimicro PC Camera Processors Model. This tool will help you find the processor model and will provide you with the corresponding link for the driver download.
How handy is that! So, if you have any Vimicro webcam, just hit that link up and run the utility. It's totally painless, fast, and gets you the guaranteed correct driver straight from their web site. Couldn't ask for a more useful little app, could you?