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Top Webcams to Enhance Your Video Conferencing Experience

In the realm of post-pandemic life, the ubiquitous presence of Zoom has become undeniable. Chances are, even as you peruse these lines, you might just be engaged in a Zoom session. It's an unverifiable assertion that today's non-Zoom moments are predominantly occupied by Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, WebX, or Skype (though I wouldn't vouch for that). While the Jetsons might have foreseen it, initiating a virtual gathering of disembodied heads multiple times a week remains a unique challenge.

Top Webcams to Enhance Your Video Conferencing Experience

Amidst this backdrop, ensuring your best appearance is practically a necessity, and the right webcam is your ally. Despite modern Windows laptops and MacBooks sporting built-in 1080p webcams, a standalone model can significantly enhance your onscreen impression. Over the years, we've conducted exhaustive tests on numerous webcams in search of the crème de la crème. Alternatively, if you possess a smartphone or a professional camera, there are simple methods to elevate your video quality by turning them into webcams.

Leading Choice for Most Individuals: Razer Kiyo X

The Kiyo X dispenses with the integrated ring light featured in the original Kiyo, yet its automatic white balance and color saturation are so impeccable that the absence of the ring light is scarcely noticeable. The forward-facing ring light of the original Kiyo, like any such light, could cast unflattering shadows on the subject being filmed, particularly without a diffuser.

Given the option between an integrated ring light and the software-based approach of the Kiyo X, the software stands out. The Razer Synapse app permits fine-tuning of video settings. In contrast to the pricier Kiyo Pro that necessitates Synapse adjustments to achieve optimal visuals, the Kiyo X arrives pre-calibrated for excellence. Its swift autofocus and unobtrusive refocusing set it apart. It captures 1080p-resolution video at 30 frames per second, or 720p resolution at 60 frames per second, with a moderately broad 82-degree field of view.

Runner-Up: Logitech C920 Pro HD

The C920 has long reigned as the standard for premium USB webcams. Prior to transitioning to the Razer Kiyo, it was my preferred camera for video conferencing. Delivering superb image quality at 1080p resolution and 30 frames per second, its white balance performance rivals that of the Razer webcam. The narrower 78-degree field of view may necessitate slight repositioning to avoid dominating the frame, yet its subtle and prompt autofocus compensates. An equally priced variant is available, furnished with a physical shutter for privacy concerns.

Finest 4K Webcam: Logitech Brio 4K

In 2017, the original Brio emerged as one of the earliest mainstream webcams offering 4K resolution at 30 frames per second. Despite competition from newer entrants, the Brio retains its position as my preferred 4K webcam. While Logitech introduced a minor 2022 update with enhanced software and a privacy shutter, the earlier model remains a solid choice at a slightly lower cost. The white balance accuracy persists, rendering natural skin tones regardless of lighting conditions.

The autofocus operates swiftly and discreetly during refocusing, resulting in razor-sharp imagery. Additionally, the field of view comes in three options: 65, 78, and an expansive 90 degrees, affording abundant framing possibilities. For Windows users, integration with Windows Hello offers facial authentication for login purposes. While it commands a higher price, the Brio provides exceptional quality that nearly rivals DSLR or mirrorless cameras.

Exquisitely Crafted, Though Pricier: Dell UltraSharp Webcam

Exuding an aura of robustness, the UltraSharp Webcam boasts a build that beckons durability, suitable for on-the-go usage. Every component, from the webcam body to the stand and the included tripod adapter, is forged from brushed aluminum. The stand and tripod adapter attach via a magnetic post, securing the mount effectively. The magnetic privacy cap affixes securely, featuring a soft-touch fabric interior to shield the lens from scratches. Even the forward-facing segment of the stand is enveloped in soft-touch rubber, safeguarding your laptop lid from abrasions during setup.

The viewing angle is adjustable across 65, 78, and 90 degrees, and recording options span 4K resolution at 24 or 30 frames per second, as well as 720p or 1080p resolutions at 24, 30, or 60 frames per second. Nevertheless, the Dell's visual quality doesn't surpass that of the Logitech Brio 4K.

Top Choice for Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) Camera: Insta360 Link

While it commands a premium price, the "AI-powered 4K webcam" - as its manufacturer fervently asserts in marketing - known as the Insta360 Link (8/10, WIRED Recommends) proves to be an impressive specimen. Mounted on a powered gimbal enabling horizontal and vertical rotation, the Insta360 Link (8/10, WIRED Recommends) seamlessly tracks, refocuses, and automatically zooms in and out (up to 4X) as you navigate the screen. It adeptly magnifies presentation boards or documents you wish to showcase during calls.

With recording choices encompassing 24, 25, and 30 frames per second at 4K resolution, the Insta360 Link delivers exceptional sharpness, color contrast, and white balance. A step down to 1080p facilitates shooting at 60 frames per second. Dual noise-canceling microphones and a screw mount underneath for tripod attachment further augment its utility. Lamentably, a physical privacy shutter is missing, but the camera points downward when inactive.

Noteworthy Contenders: Also Worthy

Obsbot Tiny 2 Webcam ($329): Our reviews editor, Julian Chokkattu, has yielded impressive results using Obsbot's inaugural Tiny 4K PTZ webcam for over a year. Transitioning to the new Tiny 2, he maintains the same level of satisfaction. The 4K-capable image quality is striking, and the camera adeptly tracks movements. The software has undergone significant refinement over the past year, offering extensive setting adjustments. Gesture recognition is possible, and an optional remote control amplifies its suitability for presentations and group calls.

Razer Kiyo ($70): The original Kiyo sustains 1080p resolution at 30 frames per second (or 720p at 60 frames per second), accompanied by built-in illumination adjusted by rotating the illuminated ring for brightness control. Image quality is commendable, featuring vivid colors and responsive white balance adjustments. Autofocusing is proficient, albeit with perceptible adjustments during movement. The field of view spans around 82 degrees. A hinge issue in my first Kiyo gave me pause, yet my second one remains robust. Meanwhile, WIRED writer Parker Hall's Kiyo experience has been trouble-free. Nevertheless, the Kiyo X is a recommended alternative, often obtainable at a lower cost.

Poly Studio P5 ($49): The Studio P5 offers a reasonably priced proposition with 4X digital zoom and 1080p resolution at 30 frames per second. It mirrors the crisp video quality, color balance, and low-light performance of other contenders. Physically closing the webcam's front deploys a visible orange shutter over the lens, changing the status light from blue to red for clear awareness of the webcam's status. Alongside a built-in microphone, a USB-A wireless adapter can be inserted at the rear to conserve laptop ports. Horizontal pivoting is supported, though vertical adjustment requires mount repositioning. The casing's speckled-white design, reminiscent of bathroom stalls, is a minor drawback.

Logitech C922x ($85): With solid specifications, the C922X is a proficient webcam capable of streaming 1080p video at 30 frames per second or 720p at 60 frames per second. This pits it against the Razer Kiyo and Kiyo X. Despite its merits, its higher cost and slightly narrower 78-degree field of view make it less competitive. Although commendable, the Kiyo X offers comparable performance at a more accessible price point.

Logitech C615 ($55): The C615 boasts impressive specs - 1080p resolution at 30 frames per second and a 78-degree field of view. Its image quality shines in various conditions, except for low light scenarios. The 360-degree swivel capability accommodates varied angles, albeit at the cost of lacking a privacy shutter. Its mono microphone records, and the shorter cord could pose issues with desktop setups, though it suits laptops well. Best acquired when priced under $40.

Logitech C930e ($62): Tailored for business applications, the C930e offers a 90-degree field of view, ideal for capturing larger groups. While an appealing choice for home users, its fixed 90-degree setting might not accommodate all scenarios.

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