In his latest video, Michael MJD, who YouTube focuses on vintage computers and tech history, showcases the Cam Mouse, which delivers an interesting cross-section of vintage computer equipment and photography. It also leaves viewers wondering, “Why does this product exist?”
“We’ve seen some pretty bizarre computer mice released over the years, but this is something else,” Michael MJD says about the subject of his latest video, the Genius Cam Mouse, an all-in-one mouse and webcam. As Michael MJD finds out, the Cam Mouse is anything but “Genius.”
Genius describes its Cam Mouse as “an innovative mouse that becomes a camera with instant photo uploading, QR code scanning, and more.” This is achieved with a 2-megapixel 720p HD webcam on the bottom of the mouse. Users can swap between “mouse mode” and “cam mode” by sliding a panel on the bottom of the device, switching between the 1,200 dpi mouse that “works on almost any surface” and the webcam module.
“I’m rather intrigued by the concept of this whole thing. I don’t know what compelled someone to go, ‘Let’s put a webcam in a mouse.’ Is it that much of a hassle to just use your webcam to take a photo? Better yet, use your phone,” Michael MJD says.
The Cam Mouse was released in 2013, so many users would’ve had access to a smartphone that almost surely delivered better image quality than the Cam Mouse.
Michael MJD says that the mouse feels “okay,” and the buttons and scroll wheel aren’t too bad. The camera’s shutter release button is on the side, so users hold the Cam Mouse up like it’s a point-and-shoot camera. Since the mouse is connected to a Windows PC via USB, photos, and videos are instantly accessible on the computer.
“I don’t know who thought this was something the world needed,” Michael MJD says. “But I do have to thank them because it’s going to make for some hilarious content.”
At default settings, the Cam Mouse captures 640 x 480-pixel images and video, which is nowhere near the promised two megapixels — it’s 0.3MP. Within the special software though, it’s possible to change the resolution to 1,280 x 960, which is 1.2MP, but then the Cam Mouse no longer shoots video.
“I’m just blown away,” Michael MJD says, laughing. “It says on the box, ‘2-megapixel, 720p HD, high-resolution pixels,’ I’d think that means it could record 720p HD video, but it can’t.”
As Michael MJD found out when installing the Cam Mouse on a more powerful Windows 10 computer, the Cam Mouse can be hardware limited. Higher resolution options, including the promised resolutions, became available on the faster computer. It’s easy to imagine that in 2013, some users would’ve been disappointed to find that the Cam Mouse didn’t achieve the promised performance on their machines.
Another issue that isn’t fixed by using a faster computer is that the Cam Mouse doesn’t include a built-in mic. Despite promising that it could be used as a webcam, the Cam Mouse is lackluster since audio is an important part of video capture and video chatting.
Michael MJD was sent the Cam Mouse by a fellow YouTuber, RetroPC, who also reviewed the Genius Cam Mouse. RetroPC’s review can be seen below.
Ultimately, the Cam Mouse is a lousy product. It’s entertaining to look at, but there’s no compelling reason for it to have existed.