Disguised Video Chatting

very good
key review info
application features
  • For all webcam programs, ICQ, AIM, MSN, CamFrog, Skype, Paltalk, Yahoo Messenger and etc.
  • (4 more, see all...)

You have to agree with me when I say that instant messengers were a great invention. They allow real time chatting and have become indispensable when connected to the Internet. Everybody uses them, especially the new generation that has almost discarded email communication as obsolete. However, a greater step forward in communication technologies was the use of webcams in tandem with instant messengers. And if you add a microphone on top of these things, I guess chatting would be almost as if the interlocutor would be right next to you.

When instant messengers received their share of fun with the addition of smileys and later emoticons, webcam messenger applications seemed to have been left a bit on the outside. Never mind, leverage is here. Webcam Max is a $29.95 fun way to conduct your video chat sessions. The trial period for the application is 30 days so you'll have quite a time to experiment with the software.

Webcam Max is all about making your video chat experience as fun as instant text messaging is. The application's purpose is adding all sorts of effects to the image, from distortion of the image, creating shadow impressions, negative, or earthquake to framing your face or appending mask effects. Whatever your choice would be I guarantee you'll like them.

All the effects are lined up in the middle of the application window, right under the video screen. Media, Screen Capture, Transform, Frame, Mask, Emoticons and Text are all the options available. Though it may seem that there aren't too many choices, you'll have where to take your pick from.

Once you have your webcam hooked to the computer everything is piece of cake. No connection between the instant messenger and Webcam Max needs to be made as everything is automatic. Simply open the video chat window and Webcam Max and start adding effects. Instant messenger's video window will mimic the effects in Webcam Max.

Besides fooling around the application can also be used for playing videos to the interlocutor due to its PIP abilities. This is actually the first type of effect in Webcam Max. Next there are the screen capture effects that allow you to display in video chat screen the desktop of your computer. The bad part is that the application window cannot be enlarged.

The user can also use real picture in picture of the entire desktop window. In this case Webcam Max will display a small window in video, rendering your desktop. The activity is in real time so the person at the other end can see exactly what you are doing. You can also screen capture only certain areas and render them in the video window.

Transform Effects contains 12 sets, each of them containing at least three alternatives. My favorites in this menu are Color (applies a colored veil all over the image), Emboss (just like in image editing), film effect and Line (only the contours are visible, just like a sketch). You can also play with Grids which is similar to picture in picture, but it splits the screen into multiple squares and renders the image captured by your webcam in each of them. Fire effect gives some kind of thermal view when moving.

With Frame Effects menu there seems to be something peculiar going on as one would have expected some nice drawings around your face (like most of those available in Human section). But in some cases some strange forms adorn your face and sometime obfuscate it. Just take a look in Animals, Famous People (feast your eyes with a nice image of G.W. Bush in diapers), Game, Movie, Nature, Sports and Stylish. You'll catch my drift exactly.

Mask Effects menu on the other hand is a true generator of laughter. Using the alternatives available here you can accessorize with FBI or CIA caps, add Red Riding Hood's locks, put some sunglasses on, see how you look with a Hitler mustache, or give yourself some pitch black eyes accompanied by huge eyelashes. If that's not enough for you, try a famous face. The options allow you to borrow the looks of Leonardo Di Caprio, Jeniffer Aniston, David Beckham, George W. Bush, Brad Pitt and others no less famous (Osama Bin Laden for instance).

This is definitely the funniest section in the entire application as it contains all sorts of head adorning effects. You can see how you look as an FBI or CIA agent by trying their caps. And if you really want to try a hilarious combination, think of a Shrek head assorted with a lovely blond hair and a pair of cool sunglasses.

Emoticon Effects is also equipped with brow relaxing options. You have everything from plain stupid (and I mean this in a good way - check the jingle frogs), funny (Pirate Kitty rules) and spooky, to crazy. It is impossible not to find something to your taste here.

And to make the application more flexible, it comes with effects Editor window which allows minor adjusting of the effect to the video window. You can make the faces larger or smaller to fit your own, position them in the screen (you can also do this by simply dragging them in the video window with your mouse), customizing the colors or adjusting the font (Text Effects).

The Good

The ease of use is fantastic. All you have to do is start it with the instant messenger and begin adding the effects.

There are many really cool effects available, many of which are encountered in image editors, so they should look familiar to some users.

You can record video with you fooling around with different effects (audio included) or you can take a snapshot of you all dressed up and ready to go.

The Bad

It could all be much better considering the $29.95 price. No argument that some of the effects are really stunning, but others are just useless. I can't imagine someone liking Plane effect (Stylish section) in Frame or Crab on Fire.

The Truth

All in all you are definitely going to have a laugh or two or enjoy the more serious effects available. All the knowledge you need for using the application actually consists in handling the video chat in an instant messenger.

You have 30 days to try it and see how you get along with it. I say it is worth a try.

Here are some snapshots of the application in action:

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user interface 4
features 4
ease of use 5
pricing / value 3

final rating 4
Editor's review
very good