When deciding which webcam to buy, if you’re in the market for a webcam that is, then some of the key features you’re likely to be looking for are overall image quality, whether it comes with a built-in microphone (and its corresponding quality), system requirements, the maximum video resolution and quality, and perhaps even the quality of the still images it takes. It may even be an important consideration what sort of use you’re intending to put your webcam to – do you need reliable, high quality for conversing with relatives abroad, for interviews or conference calls, or for gaming. Let’s have a look at some contenders, shall we? Please note that they’re not necessarily newly released, but if they’re not new then they have stood the test of time sufficiently well to be included here.
The Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 comes with full High Definition 1080 pixel for Skype (720 pixels for video calling), so with this affordable webcam you really are getting top quality – it retails at around £90 but is currently on offer on Amazon for £49.99… Other retailers are, of course, available. Through the inclusion of H.264 HW compression encoding your downloads and uploads are likely to run smoothly and quickly. It also comes with a high quality dual microphone for stereo audio, which truly sets it apart from many of its competitors, and background noise is automatically filtered out. In other words, don’t mutter anything untoward about your mother-in-law in Australia when you Skype with this contraption – she’ll hear you, and her wrath will be felt across the oceans. S’not worth it. Oh, and it also comes with Carl Zeiss optics, and you can, if you wish, take and send 15MP still shots – all good, in other words.
There are some things to be aware of, however, as of course nothing in this life is perfect. So, there is no lens cap, so just be aware of that when the camera isn’t in use. You may also have to double check before you purchase that it is the right camera for your hardware, software, operating systems, granny’s budgie and anything else that might protest at the combination. It’s more than likely to be fine, but it’s as well to check beforehand.
The Microsoft LifeCam Studio Webcam’s advertising tagline is, ‘The closest to being there’. What a claim that is! It comes with 1080 pixels and a high definition sensor which does conjure up extremely clear images. The video function offers 720 pixels, so is similar to the Logitech C920, above. One nifty feature it comes with calls itself TrueColor Technology with face-tracking which will automatically control light exposure. There is also a high-fidelity microphone which delivers natural and detailed audio. Damn, I’m going to be singing songs from Fame for the rest of the night now…
One major – and I’m not one to exaggerate, so I do mean major – flaw with the Microsoft cam is that it does offer 1080 pixels, but only for still images, not recorded video… I don’t know, but that seems a wee bit naughty to me. You should also note that when recording, it only records .wmv. If you are looking to work with recorded video on Mac or Linux you should be aware of that, and if working with it on Windows, you should also be aware of the particular .wmv limitations. That may not be a problem for you, but certainly worth being aware of.
Although generally a sound, good quality webcam, I would recommend taking those limiting factors mentioned above into account before you purchase, particularly when you consider that the retail price is around £140.
Just time for one more, then. The Brother NW-1000 is compatible with both Mac and PC – in contrast to many other, similar offerings. It again offers 1080 pixel HD video, and will take still images with its 8MP lens. It is not always 100% reliable when running at the full 1080p, so if you encounter any problems you could of course drop it down to a still respectable 720p. It’s not ideal, but still a decent workaround.
The Brother cam lacks additional features such as light-correcting technology, one-click social media uploads and face-tracking. If you do purchase this one, however, you will get noise reduction, and there are good quality dual, built-in microphones. What’s more, it retails at around £55, so it is worth bearing that in mind when assessing its offer which, to all intents and purposes, appears to be a perfectly good quality, solidly made webcam which will, within reason, do all you’d like a webcam to do.
On the whole, if you spend at least £55 on a webcam you will ensure you get a good quality and perfectly serviceable webcam which should cope with all your mother-in-law in Australia has to offer you. The main things to be aware of are compatibility, the reality compared with the promises in regards to the pixel promises, and the ease with which you will be able to set it up and embark on your web-camming adventures.