TECH NEWS: Why a 1080p webcam is a great buy for 2021: Buying guide

dWeb.News Article from Daniel Webster AF dWeb.News

TECH NEWS:

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The deals that made webcams a fantastic stocking stuffer in 2020 have continued into 2021. Last year webcams were nearly impossible to find, as millions of people gearing up to work or study from home tried to improve upon the 720p models most laptops have. Now 1080p models are plentiful again, making it a perfect time to pick up a few for yourself or for loved ones.

There are literally so many 1080p webcams available that Amazon is throwing deals at you: coupons, daily discounts, the works! Need it soon? Amazon should be able to ship something to you almost overnight. There’s even premium models with high refresh rates and integrated ring lights for a few dollars more. With Black Friday upon us, there are even more deals: Razer’s excellent Kiyo Pro, for example, is $100 off (a 50 percent discount!) for Black Friday.

We haven’t tested these webcams, but we’ve pored through the piles of available models to pick out the best deals based on specs and bundled extras. You can also refer to our separate story on Windows Hello webcams to buy a webcam for videoconferencing and to log you in to your PC.

To help you choose, check out our buying advice below our recommendations.

Great cheap webcams: What to buy

Wansview 1080p webcam: $23.99. There’s no privacy shutter, but there is a noise-cancelling mic. 
Hrayazan 1080p webcam with tripod: $24.99. This is a fixed-focus 1080p webcam with a tripod and privacy shutter, which means that you’ll need to adjust the distance for a good picture. 

eMeet C960 webcam: $28.89. This 90-degree webcam adds dual mics and noise cancellation, which might be handy if you have a space heater running or some other white noise. Unfortunately, it probably won’t filter out arguing kids or barking dogs. There’s some low-light adjustment, too.
NexiGo 1080p webcam: $33.99. I purchased this for my kids during the pandemic, and they loved it. It may look a little clunky, but it’s held up perfectly well. This is a fixed-focus webcam, but there’s an autofocus option, too, for $54.99.

Great premium webcams: What to buy

We didn’t include any 4K webcams on this list, as the models we examined didn’t convince us that 4K-quality (or even 2K-quality video) was being streamed. The best option here is still the original Logitech Brio, which is available via a variety of shippers from Amazon, at prices upwards of $213. 

Razer Kiyo Pro: $99.99 ($100 off for Black Friday) Why recommend a $200 webcam in favor of cheaper models? Our excellent review (with streaming video) shows why: great natural lighting performance, great artificial light performance, 60 fps, and more.
Logitech C920: $71 ($8.99 off). Amazon isn’t discounting this highly popular model, and we don’t expect it to go on sale. (Amazon actually raised the price for Black Friday.) You’re paying for the brand name here, as the C920e/C920 doesn’t offer a privacy shutter, and the 1080p resolution has been equaled by other webcams on this list.
NexiGo 1080p 60fps webcam: $54.99 ($5 off). If smoother, more TV-like 60-fps recording is important for you, you may want to pay a bit more for a webcam like this.
NexiGo N680p 60fps webcam: $99.99: A slightly pricier, premium version of the other NexiGo camera above, this webcam adds autofocus, noise correction, and an integrated privacy shutter. Autofocus will certainly help when paired with the included webcam tripod. This price has actually increased by about $10.

Unzano webcam with ring light : $49.99 ($16 off): This 1080p webcam gets a lot of positive user reviews. It includes auto-focus, dual mics, and an integrated ring light, which can help you look better even in subpar conditions. There’s no privacy shutter.
Vitade 1080p webcam with ring light: $49.99. Another well-reviewed webcam with an integrated ring light. A newer model with light correction and autofocus sells for $75. Note that webcams with ring lights have a tighter field of view: 80 degrees.

1080p webcam buying guide

A standalone 1080p webcam can’t add Windows Hello to your system, but it can greatly improve how you look on your next Zoom call. Here’s what to look for: 

Adjustable or fixed focus:  Most of these cameras are fixed-focus, 30-fps webcams—about the same as in most laptops. Don’t worry about fixed-focus, as it’s been pre-configured at a focal length that’s about the distance between your face and your laptop or monitor. You’ll need to account for this with tripods, however, or pay a little more for an auto-focusing webcam. Autofocus webcams are handy for situations where you may be moving about the room, but beware distracting webcams that frequently refocus.

Field of view (FOV): The camera’s field of view can vary. A 90-degree FOV helps people focus on you (and perhaps not the clutter you’ve hidden off to the side). A 110-degree or higher FOV works better for group shots, although distortion can become a problem the wider your FOV gets. 

Privacy shutter: These devices are not a privacy threat, for the simple reason that they can be unplugged easily. Most have a flip-down privacy shutter, but you could always tape over the camera or drape it with a dark cloth. 

Ring lights: Yes, integrated ring lights are now a thing on premium webcams, and worth the money if lighting is a challenge for you.

Tripod bundle: With so many webcams on the market, manufacturers are trying hard to differentiate their products. The new trend is a small tripod, which gives you more options for mounting the camera.

Updated at 11: 00 AM PT on Nov. 24 with additional recommendations, updated pricing, and a link to the Razer Kiyo Pro review. 

Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.

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As PCWorld’s senior editor, Mark focuses on Microsoft news and chip technology, among other beats. He has formerly written for PCMag, BYTE, Slashdot, eWEEK, and ReadWrite.

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