We all love technology and our own personal devices, but none of us expected to have to rely on it quite so dramatically for work as well as play until the coronavirus pandemic hit.
Now our devices are our lifeline to our professional lives as well as personal, and apps like Zoom have become necessary for morning status reports and evening catch ups with wine. Part of this ‘new normal’ means there might be a few parts of your home tech set up that need upgrading.
You may have found that not all laptop webcams are created equal. And let’s not forget that if you use a PC monitor, it might not have a webcam at all. Either way, if everyone else’s stream is crisp and bright but you look like you’re in a dark, buffering dungeon then you need to consider a standalone webcam.
Webcams built into laptops aren’t always the best quality - even Apple’s brand new $1,599 MacBook Air has a low-res potato of a camera. So don’t feel like it’s so 2002 to buy a webcam. They can be relatively inexpensive but dramatically improve your working from home set up, making you appear better presented and more professional.
Most webcams also have microphones. Some laptops have bad placement of their built-in mics, meaning even if your webcams image is good, the audio might be subpar. If you don’t want to wear headphones on video calls, then a webcam with a mic is a way to fix bad audio.
Here are our picks of the three best webcams for PC and Mac.
Logitech C920S HD Pro
RRP: $169.95 @ Logitech
This webcam is pretty much the best in the business. It is marketed towards video game streaming as it can stream at both 1080p and 720p, but this also means that it has excellent video conferencing abilities.
Its higher price is down to its video quality chops, widescreen 78-degree field of view that can fit two people in and its premium clever features like HD autofocus and light correction. The latter ensures your image will look as good as possible even in dim light settings.
The webcam is compatible with PC and Mac. and will play nice with Skype, Zoom and FaceTime, and others. The two mics and adjustable arm ensures you will look and sound great too and it even comes with a tripod if you don’t want to clip it to your computer. If you want the best all-round webcam, this is it (the similar Logitech C920 is slightly cheaper and just as good for video calls too).
RRP: $79.95 @ Logitech
Logitech is a trusted brand of ours and this is the best cheap webcam you can get right now. We wouldn’t recommend spending less, even though those products exist. The C270 doesn’t have any bells and whistles but nor does it need any, as it nails the basics.
Compatible with PC and Mac, it’s the definition of ‘plug and play’. It captures 720p at up to 30fps, meaning it’s more than adequate for casual and professional video calls.
It has light adjusting capabilities and comes with a clip that can fix to any laptop lid or monitor’s edge. Unless you want super high definition streaming, this webcam will do you just fine.
Microsoft LifeCam Studio
RRP: $117 @ Officeworks
Our third pick is this superb webcam from Microsoft. It’s a tad bulky and looks like a CCTV camera atop your computer, but it’s well-priced when you consider the features.
It has a 1080p HD sensor with autofocus to ensure you’re always looking your best. Its software, like the Logitech C920 series, has colour correction tech to ensure video is always bright and good looking in challenging lighting conditions.
This webcam is only compatible with PCs, and won’t play nice with Apple Macs. If you really want to use the 1080p setting then you’ll also have to have a pretty good Internet connection. It’s a good option if you need to record video for work at high quality but can then sub in as a lower-res video calling camera.
If you want to opt for Logitech's creme de la creme of prosumer-grade webcams, the Logitech StreamCam is the option you're looking for it. It boasts a fabric-laced look, support for 1080p video capture at 60FPS, USB-C connectivity plus flexible mounting options.
In our review of the Logitech StreamCam, we said that "Getting a cheap webcam on Amazon doesn’t cost that much these days but Logitech have included enough of their own special sauce here to make the premium attached to the brand feel worth it."
Dell UltraSharp Webcam WB7022
Dell’s first 4K webcam ticks a lot of boxes. While most standalone webcams are designed for 1080p, Dell’s UltraSharp Webcam WB7022 supports streaming and video at 4K resolution. It’s also one of the few standalone webcams to support Windows Hello, which requires a depth camera as well as an optical sensor.
It features a cylindrical design measuring 90mm in length, and a privacy shutter that attaches magnetically to the lens. The webcam records 4K video at 30 fps, and 1080p at 60fps. Once mounted, you can control features like HDR, auto-focusing, brightness, saturation and the camera’s digital zoom (up to 5X) using Dell’s Peripheral Manager utility.
Additionally, Dell’s AI framing continually crops the image to keep your face centered. This webcam does not include a microphone, with Dell opting to allow consumers to choose one that suits their needs.
Looking to upgrade your work from home setup in other ways? Check out our guide to the best wrist rests here.