Tandberg ASA and Microsoft Corp. are in beta trials of the Tandberg PrecisionHD USB Camera, which the company claims is the first mobile Webcam to offer 720p high-definition resolution at 30 frames per second over Microsoft’s Office Communications Server 2007. Tandberg reps are calling the device “the missing link” to providing business-quality videoconferencing from a laptop or desktop.

The camera, which is smaller than a stapler, is based on Tandberg’s existing high-definition products like the Tandberg 1700 MXP, according to Peter Nutley, director of product marketing for Tandberg. The same sensor is built into a smaller form factor and optimized for USB connection, he said.

Tandberg hopes to have the PrecisionHD on the market by the end of the second quarter of this year, according to Michael Roussey, product manager of personal video systems with Tandberg. The company isn’t the only one that’s clued into to the need for an HD Webcam.

“It became quite evident to multiple developers…there is not a high-quality, true HD (mobile Webcam) on the market,” Nutley said.

While the company is beta testing the camera for integration with OCS, it will also work with Tandberg’s Movi conferencing application (a high-definition version is in beta) and other applications, including Skype, albeit in standard definition.

While Nutley didn’t have specifics on hardware requirements for the camera, he said he’d been using it with Movi on a Lenovo X61 (which runs an Intel Core Duo processor and up to 4G of RAM) without hiccups. A 1- to 1.5Mbps Internet connection should be adequate to provide 720p, 30 frames-per-second HD quality video, he said.

According to Roussey, the camera should sell for between $300 and $400.