The best webcam for the money
Webcams have been available for laptops and desktops for over a decade, never being the most thought-of feature of a work setup. Over the past year, the importance of a high-quality webcam is growing due to the rise of YouTubers, streamers and remote work and school. A clear, high-definition video capture can make you look more professional, even when working with a small budget.
When finding the right webcam for your needs, buyers should keep in mind quality, privacy and compatibility for the best results. The 2021 NexiGo N60 Webcam is an excellent webcam for anyone looking for a visual upgrade.
What to know before you buy a webcam for the money
Type of webcam
Webcams that are already built into your computer are called integrated webcams. For any upgrade or webcam sold separately, you’ll be looking at standalone webcams.
Standalone webcams can sit next to your computer using a tripod or stand, or they can be attached to the top of your computer screen. Any standalone webcam needs to be connected to your computer using a USB cable, HDMI or Bluetooth. You also get much higher-quality options from a standalone webcam than an integrated webcam.
When shopping for a high-quality webcam, look for a webcam that has high resolution. Webcams with high resolution are able to capture video with more detail and create a more attractive stream.
High-resolution cameras are described as 1080p or 4K resolution. Keep in mind that higher resolution video takes more processing power to stream or upload. Ensure that your computer is powerful enough and you have sufficient internet connection before committing to a high-resolution webcam.
If you value speed or stability over video quality, you can opt for a low-resolution webcam. The video quality is likely to be fuzzier/noisier but will be able to upload faster.
Frame rate refers to the number of stills captured by a camera per 1 second. Similarly to resolution, webcams with a higher frame rate can create a high-quality, smooth video stream. Typically, TVs and laptops play video back in 24 to 30 fps, with gaming computers now available with 60 fps.
Those using a webcam for work or school will be fine with a 30-fps webcam. You likely won’t need a 60-fps webcam unless you’re planning on using your webcam to capture lots of movement.
Webcam for the money features
Webcam lenses can be made of plastic or glass, and the difference can make a big impact on your video quality. Plastic lenses are lower-quality but may be offered in cheaper models. Glass lenses can capture high-quality, clearer video but are going to be slightly pricier.
Webcams can offer lenses with the ability to zoom in and out and create a wide-angle camera view.
Computers typically have speakers or ports to add external audio and built-in microphones to capture speech. However, several webcams can come with improved microphones, so your voice comes through clearer on streams and video calls.
Webcam microphones can come with additional features like dual mics or noise canceling that can improve audio quality. Noise canceling can be especially helpful if your home office is subject to loud street noise. If more mic quality control is needed, some webcams can connect to an external microphone as well.
Tech experts have been raising awareness over security risks associated with webcams for a few years now. While rare, webcam hacking can happen to anyone, even when operating on a private network.
There are now several software options users can download to keep their webcam secure; however, the easiest way to protect your privacy is through a built-in webcam cover. Like a lens cover on a digital camera, many webcams have covers that can slide or be flipped down.
Webcam for the money cost
Webcams can cost over $100 for the best quality, audio and convenient features. If you’re willing to make some small concessions, you can find a high-quality webcam for $20-$60, with image quality improving as the price increases.
Webcam for the money FAQ
Should I get a webcam if my laptop has a built-in camera?
A. While built-in cameras are convenient, they lack the quality that many webcam users need for work or streaming.
Are webcams safe? Should I worry about privacy?
A. Buying a webcam doesn’t mean you need to constantly worry about your privacy. Webcam hacking is rare and only happens if the rest of your computer has been compromised after accidentally downloading malware or joining a suspicious network. That being said, any technophile will recommend you use a reasonable amount of caution in order to ensure privacy.
Will installing a webcam damage or mark my computer?
A. There are a few different installation methods that webcams use to make it very easy to take a webcam on and off your computer, leaving no (or next to no) marks or residue on your computer. Webcams may come with adhesive, a clip or simply just hang on the top of your monitor.
Which webcam for the money should I get?
Best of the best webcam for the money
2021 NexiGo N60 Webcam: available at Amazon
Our take: The best value webcam for any user with several built-in features that deliver a high-quality video stream.
What we like: Easy to install; just plug in the USB and go. 1080p HD megapixel camera. Built with glass lenses for a clear, crisp image. Can capture video in ultra-wide angle up to 110 degrees. 30 fps. Comes with a built-in microphone with noise-canceling software. Convenient privacy camera cover simply flips down when camera is not in use. Attaches to the computer with a clip.
What we dislike: This webcam has a fixed focus which might not adapt when something is held up to the camera.
Best bang for your buck webcam for the money
LarmTek Full HD Webcam with Cover: available at Amazon
Our take: A high-quality webcam that will surprise you with its performance but might lack some of the features a heavy user would enjoy.
What we like: Webcam can be used by clipping onto computer or with the included tripod. USB cable connection. 1080p resolution with 30 fps. Comes with a built-in noise-reducing microphone. Automatically installs software needed for the webcam. Can brighten dimly lit rooms or adapt to different lighting conditions throughout the day. Comes with privacy cover.
What we dislike: No wide-angle feature. Automatic lighting adjustment can be a bit finicky and may need some finagling to get just right.
Honorable mention webcam for the money
ToLuLu Full HD Webcam: available at Amazon
Our take: This easy to install high-quality camera gives a crisp picture and features a built-in noise-reducing microphone.
What we like: Offers 1080p resolution and 30 fps frame rate. Long 6-foot USB connection cable. Clip to install or use the included tripod. Can capture clear audio up to 10 feet away from the mic. Software can improve video in low light and auto-enhances face. Comes with an optional privacy cover.
What we dislike: Some users think the tripod is too short to use. Privacy cover is not pre-installed.
Daisy Kelly is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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