Wednesday 21 March 2012

Another eBay webcam with Entron inside

I've been using eBay late at night again for impulse purchases... this was a £2 webcam claiming 5.0MP (which turned out to be 0.3MP again).

Square 0.3MP webcam

My favourite thing about it is the packaging where on the back there is nice spoofed Skype logo:
Skype, Free internt telephony that just sucks [sic] 

The eBay webcam was shipped from China (深圳市, 廣東省 - Shenzhen, Guangdong) and I was pleasantly surprised to get it in retail packaging (not just a jiffy bag). This means I can tell you what the manufacturer claimed, which differed from the eBay seller.

Here's what the Mac OS X command system_profiler SPUSBDataType says:

            USB2.0 Camera:
              Product ID: 0x0102
              Vendor ID: 0x1e4e  (Etron Technology, Inc.)
              Version: 0.02
              Speed: Up to 480 Mb/sec
              Manufacturer: Etron Technology, Inc.
              Current Available (mA): 500
              Current Required (mA): 100

Does that look familiar? It is almost identical to my previous '6 LED' eBay camera - only that said it was version 1.01 and this is only version 0.02 which is curious. Given as I wrote last time that Entron claim to have achieved 50% of the PC Camera market share in China this wasn't a big surprise. I wasn't surprised then that (under Linux at least) again the only resolutions offered seem to be 320x240, 352x288 and 640x480 pixels - meaning this too is really a 0.3MP camera. Whereas the eBay seller claimed:

5.0 MegaPixel USB Plug and Play Webcam with Microphone
High resolution picture quality
Compact folding design features
360 degree rotation base
Frame Rate: 320 x 240 26 fps / 640 x 480 16 fps
Compatible with Windows 2000/XP/Vista/Windows 7 (32 bit)
Color: White
Weight: 67g
Size: 5.20 x 5.20 x 1 cm (or 2.05 x 2.05 x 0.39 inches)

Some online retailers are more precise, e.g. tmart sell this and report a 5.0 megapixel "Video Resolution" with software boost / upscaling (wow!), but a Digital Still Image Resolution of 'only' 1.3 megapixels (again, with software boost / upscaling). Similarly ChinaBestMall have accurate looking details in the text, yet put 5MP in the title.

The front of the box says "8.0MP Maximum, USB 2.0/1.1, designed for Windows NT, XP, 2000, ME, Vista and Windows 7".

Rear packaging (with spoofed Skype logo)

The back of the box says: "5.0MP maximum Web Camera, ..., CMOS component, static full-screen 2048x1536 and 640x480 video full-colordynamic image display. USB 2.0/1.1 ... Manually focalize from 15cm to limitless distance ... Output format RGB 24 1420". Taken at face value RGB24 means 24 bit 'TrueColor", and the 1420 is probably meant to say I420, which is an image compression setting.

Separately there was a barcode 8291218328839 and S/N: P15&P16 above it. Confusingly a Google search on that barcode turns up some matches to the '6 LED' webcam, and also some sites selling a webcam with a photo of this square one but the text of the '6 LED' form. Also strange, the plastic casing while a snug fit for the square webcam, includes space for a compact spring loaded USB cable (like other cameras currently on eBay).


As you might expect from the last blog post, I opened this one up too. Just two screws hold the main case (one under a paper QC sticker) and reveal a very similar PCB - it even has twelve empty holes running down the left and right edges where there were 6 LEDs in the other camera (whose chip was an EtronTech eSP268A7 P254609 H6S247.11), and unused holes for a shutter button.

Separate microphonePCB front showing CMOS chipPCB back showing Entron eSP286
Again it is using the mass produced Entron eSP286 chip, but this time  the text on the chip reads: EtronTech eSP268A6 P284608 H6T022.11 (similar but an older model - consistent with what it say via USB). The sensor itself seems to be about 2mm across - click for a larger photo (and you can see I've got a bit of fluff or dust on it).


This 'square webcam' camera comes in several colours - white as shown, black, also red. Some examples online appear to be branded EXOO. The casing might be inspired by the Microsoft LifeCam VX-5500, and actually works pretty well. I prefer it to the internally similar round cases 6 LED webcam, although the shiny chromed lens case is too slippery to turn for focus with my fingers!

Note that there also appear to be variants of this little square casing with a clip base, e.g.
Example retailer photos - a clip base variant of this webcam?

In fact, I suspect that most of the ~£5 webcams on eBay from China are based on this same 0.3MP design, regardless of how they might be labelled!

The conclusion is clear that advertised specifications on 'no name' web cameras are often gross exaggerations. Of course, at the price I didn't expect otherwise.


  1. It ain't that much of a surprise considering that most no-name Chinese manufacturers do put fancy claims on their wares. Like a NES clone or some Mediatek cellphone they churned out.

  2. Hi,
    Do these cameras work on raspberry pi. If you can you please sugggest me some cheap cameras for raspberry.


    1. It's a UVC webcam so should be fine on any Linux computer including the Raspberry Pi - but I'm not sure if I ever tried this particular camera with it.