In place of glass lenses that move in order to focus, liquid optics uses a drop of water that changes shape when an electric charge is applied. The system is smaller and cheaper than glass and can supposedly focus faster. The tech recently appeared in the Akkord SnakeCam, a webcam sold in China. We brought one stateside and pitted it against two versions with glass lenses.

The Test

I made a Skype video call to my wife, who used the $20 Akkord, a $50 HP model and an $80 Logitech webcam.

The Results

The Akkord and Logitech cams kept my wife in focus as she moved in closer or stepped back, but the HP couldn’t focus unless she sat perfectly still.

The Akkord was no match for the Logitech at capturing accurate colors, fine details and smooth movement, however. Although the liquid lens lives up to its promise, it can’t make up for cheap camera guts.