Although built-in HD webcams are now a feature common to most computers, smartphones, and tablets, there is still a community of dedicated users who prefer to use an external webcam.
If you’re looking for the, there are a few pointers you need to consider before purchasing one. These include the following
- Video and audio quality
- Webcam features such as motion detection, face tracking, type of focus, digital zoom, and noise reduction.
- Design features of the webcam, including whether it is tripod compatible, cord length, panning, tilting, and lens material.
- Manufacturer’s Help and Support: Is there a downloadable manual? Do they offer a guarantee? Is there a user forum? Is there a telephone, email, or chat support service?
Table of Contents
Video and audio quality
When it comes to picture quality, look at the webcam’s frame rate as well as its video resolution. Since webcams sometimes function as cameras, you should also consider the resolution of the image.
When it comes to video resolution, focus on the pixel count of the webcam. If the number of pixels is higher, you will get clearer images. For most webcams, the resolution is capped at 1080.
If a particular webcam has a resolution of 1080, it is basically the best in terms of quality and the level of detail in the images will be just amazing.
Check if the webcam has focus functions such as auto, fixed, or manual focus. Auto and manual focus functions allow you to adjust the webcam for the best focus and clearer images. This is not the case with a fixed focus where the range is predetermined. However, with autofocus, while giving you greater convenience, it also means higher costs. The cheapest option on the market when it comes to focusing is the fixed focus webcam.
There are webcams that have the zoom feature, but it is important to understand what “zoom” really means as far as the webcam jargon goes. This may enlarge the image, but it also lowers the resolution of the image.
You should also consider the resolution of the image. There are cases where the zoom feature will be useful depending on where you plan to use the webcam and whether it has a good resolution to maintain any amount of zoom allowed. Noise reduction is also an important feature to watch out for if you plan to shoot high-quality videos.
The webcam lens can be glass or plastic. Obviously, plastic is cheaper, but it can be scratched easily and the quality of the images is not as good. Glass lenses give you the exact opposite – better image quality and better scratch resistance, but they are more expensive. For the best quality and resilience, choose premium glass lenses for your webcams.
Another aspect of webcam design that you should consider when purchasing one is how it is mounted. You can place it on the computer screen or on your desktop, but first, you need to determine if the design allows this functionality. Most users will be comfortable with this. But some users need tripod compatibility, which gives you more flexibility.
Which resolution is right for me?
As discussed, this is one of the most important features to consider when purchasing a webcam. They are available in a variety of resolutions including 480p, 720p, or 1080p and you can choose the most suitable according to your budget and your needs.
What is the compatibility with my operating system?
When you buy a webcam, make sure it is compatible with your operating system. Many webcams are cross-compatible with many operating systems like Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, etc. but you need to make sure this is the case with your OS before making a purchase.
Which video calling clients is it compatible with?
Do you plan to use it with QuickTime Player, FaceTime, Skype, Chrome OS, etc.? You need to make sure that the webcam will be compatible with your favorite video-calling clients.
Staying connected is so much easier in these modern times, with technology bringing those miles away from each other even closer. Some of this is done through our mobile devices, with access to apps like FaceTime, Skype, and other video chat services. Another part is the ability to connect with someone from your computer. Many families use Skype to stay connected on long trips or even long deployments. The main tool that helps these families use programs like Skype are webcams. Webcams are what brought a face to face chat live on the Internet. When it became possible not only to hear but also to see the person on the other line, it changed the whole landscape of communication.
Webcams are also evolving, as demand increases. Gone are the days of having a separate webcam and microphone. Most models come with a built-in microphone, just to improve the conversation. They are also equipped with noise-canceling function, light adjustment, LEDs for better illumination of your office, and various other functions, all with the aim of making communication seamless as if no one was there with you.