When the Logitech Brio came out years ago, it was arguably the best 4K camera in the market, and it worked with the Windows face recognition technology called Windows Hello.
Initially, it came with things like a digital background utility that wasn’t bad for its time, but since its launch, Logitech decided, for some reason, not to adequately fund support. For those of us running AMD systems in particular, the experience got worse and worse, and any support for that digital background app just vanished after it started breaking for a lot of us.
So, I’ve been looking for an excellent alternative to the Brio for several years, and Dell recently sent me their latest Dell Ultrasharp 4K Webcam. It costs about the same, and the Brio comes with Dell’s support commitment which has proven stronger than Logitech’s.
Let’s talk about the Dell 4K Webcam this week.
The Importance of a Good Webcam
When we were going into the office in person, we spent a lot on clothing and appearance remotely; some still do, but those efforts are lost if you don’t have a good webcam. Once we are on a Zoom, WebEx or Microsoft Teams call, we are often put up inside to side videos, and you can see who has a good camera that can center and adjust for ambient light and who doesn’t.
Centering is critical because we seldom like to sit still, and automatic centering does showcase you better. You might question the need for 4K, but what 4K gives you is a lot more video real estate to play with, allowing the self-centered and zoom capabilities to work even if the camera isn’t mechanized. Mechanized cameras are expensive, generally costing more than $1K, resulting in a product that isn’t easy to transport.
So the most straightforward and most cost-effective approach to providing an excellent affordable webcam is to give it 4K support and then control the features in software rather than hardware, dramatically reducing the potential cost of the camera that is ensuring you look good online.
Speakers and Microphones
Many webcams, like the Poly Studio 15, come with speakers and microphones. Still, they add to the camera’s size, often redundant to what the user already has, and they make the device heavy and make it inappropriate for laptop use on the road. A separate microphone is generally preferred for sound quality, and most people already have speakers set up for gaming. On the road, laptops typically come with microphones and cameras. Due to the public areas these operate in; many prefer a headset so that everyone around them doesn’t hear both sides of their conversations.
Keeping these components separate can not only improve the quality of what you are doing but, in the case of the laptop, keep your carry weight and peripheral complexity manageable. In addition, a small, focused camera is easier to pick up and use to capture something around you.
Dell Ultrasharp Webcam
The Dell Ultrasharp Webcam comes with two base mounts, one for on top of your monitor or laptop and one for a small tripod if you want to move the camera someplace that is more convenient. It is a black tube that is simple and reasonably attractive, it has a magnetic lens cover which you can put behind the camera when not in use (I’m constantly losing lens covers), and it does do a decent job of automatically centering the video.
The camera uses a USB-C cable which should work fine with most current generation laptops and desktop computers. You can also use a USB-C smartphone charging cable if you don’t have a USB-C port on your PC or an adaption. I found the cable I’d been using for the Logitech Brio to work fine with my AMD-based desktop rig.
Because this camera has automatic centering, you don’t need to put it in the center of your monitor. If your monitor is mounted high, you can get a short camera stand and mount it under the monitor on that for a more direct shot. I found that mounting it on top of my monitor did make me more self-conscious about hair loss, so you may want to mess around with camera placement.
As an excellent, simple, affordable (around $200), the Dell Ultrasharp Webcam is a decent value and an excellent updated alternative to the Logitech Bio and more portable than the Poly Studio 15. It also supports Microsoft Hello for facial recognition. An increasing number of apps are starting to use this feature, suggesting this capability is becoming more and more critical overtime for those who like not having to type in a password or PIN.
Your Webcam is what presents you to the world and can impact how people see you. Thus getting a good one is very important. While it is just a camera without a microphone or speakers, the Dell UltraSharp Webcam is a reasonably priced alternative to the Logitech Brio with better support. I’ve been using the camera for several weeks, and it has performed flawlessly over that time.
If you need a small camera, supports 4K video and has decent automatic centering and IR support, the Dell Ultrasharp Webcam is worth checking out.