Built-in/add-on cameras

Ever wanted to use your Pocket PC as a Web or a spy camera? Now, here’s a working solution!

I’ve been constantly receiving questions about whether Pocket PC’s can be used as Web or even spy cameras. Up until now, my answer was negative. Fortunately, now, this has changed.

ATEKsoft has just released a new version of CoolCamera, a revolutionary Pocket PC application that offers the ability to use almost all Pocket PC’s with built-in cameras as Web or even remote spy cameras at a very good speed and quality over even plain USB, Bluetooth or GPRS/EDGE mobile phone connections. You no longer need to bring your web camera with you any more (or even purchase one) if you have a Pocket PC with a built-in camera and you’d like to want to use it as a web or surveillance camera. Also, you can forget about having to buy a, say, specific Wi-Fi spy / security camera if you don't need the specific features of the latter (remote controllability - rotation, zoom... -, built-in infrared and/or visible light source etc.). That is, if you, say, only need a children-bedroom, remote camera communicating with your desktop/notebook PC via USB or any kind of wireless technology (including the above-mentioned Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and mobile phone-based communication technologies), you may want to opt for using a Pocket PC. This can be extremely helpful in many cases, particularly while on the go where you may want to leave as many gadgets at home as possible.

As the desktop part of the application suite uses standardized Windows interfaces (that is, Video for Windows (VfW) / WDM), the camera in the Pocket PC behaves like a standardized video source under Windows and, therefore, any desktop application being able to accept standardized video inputs will be able to use it.


The application is available here and costs $14.90 (locked to one Pocket PC device - that is, you must purchase a license for all of your camera-enabled PDA's if you want to deploy the application on more than one of them).

The trial version has a time restriction of 25 seconds; after this, the video transfer will stop. It can be restarted by just pressing the Action button (the button in the center of the D-pad on most models), unless you reassign this functionality to another hardware button.

Supported Pocket PC models

HTC Magician, Alpine, Apache, Prophet, Wizard, Universal and Tornado; HP hw6515, F-S Pocket Loox 720 and some other devices not listed.

As can be seen, almost (there’s no Asus A730(w) in the list, for example) all new Pocket PC (Phone Edition) models are supported. (I have no information on whether add-on SD/CF camera cards are supported or not, though.)

Supported desktop applications

Almost everything that accepts standard video sources: both communications apps (for example, Skype, MSN/Live/Yahoo Messenger), and video capture/edit/broadcast applications (for example, VLC Media Player, Windows Media Encoder, VirtualDub, WebcamXP).


Are CF/SD add-on cameras any good?


Q: Are CF/SD add-on cameras any good? A: Well, it depends. While they're considerably, quality-wise, better than all built-in "cameras" even in recent Windows Mobile PDA's, and MS Portrait also supports most of them, you can't expect astonishing image quality, even at their sometimes very high price.


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