Upgrading your webcam to cope with video chat demands

In all my time review laptops, tablets and phones, I rarely considered the front-facing selfie/webcam as anything other than superlative for most users.
Upgrading your webcam to cope with video chat demands
File picture. Photo: PA Photo/iStock.
File picture. Photo: PA Photo/iStock.

In all my time review laptops, tablets and phones, I rarely considered the front-facing selfie/webcam as anything other than superlative for most users.

I only take selfies on a smartphone to test a camera during my review period and hardly ever look at a webcam on a laptop. However, over the last few months, all of that has changed thanks to video chat apps like Zoom, Google Meet, FaceTime, WhatsApps, Microsoft Teams, Webex Meetings … the list goes on.

Nobody wants to look bad on camera and let’s face it, a lot of laptops don’t have great webcams but more especially, who has a camera for their desktop PC or Mac?

Most good phones have a decent front-facing camera, but they’re not ideal for business video calls. Amazingly, despite the fact that the iPad Pro has a fantastic front-facing camera the latest Mac laptops only come with a bog-standard 720p camera.

I compared my own 2018 laptop’s built-in webcam to two external cameras from Papalook and Ausdom. I was honestly shocked at how bad the image quality was from my laptop.

Papalook PA452
Papalook PA452

The Papalook PA452 video quality didn’t look too good when I first tried it until I realised you have to manually adjust the focus. This isn’t a big deal as it’s very easy to adjust and achieve sharp focus. It features Full-HD 1080p video at 30fps with an f/2.0 aperture and a 5-layer film-coated optical glass lens that claims to work in as low light as five lux lighting conditions. The auto low-light correction, which can be fine-tuned to lighten conditions, produces bright and well-contrasted images.

It also features a built-in omnidirectional, noise-cancelling stereo microphone for clear audio and advanced H.264 compression technology enables fast and smooth video.

The Ausdom AW635 also features Full-HD 1080P with an f/2.0 aperture as well as automatic low-light correct.

Ausdom AW635
Ausdom AW635

The built-in noise-reduction, omnidirectional mic captures and automatically filters out external background noise, making the sound clearer. It may not fully block out the kids screaming in the background but should isolation you from most background noises.

The AW635 has excellent placement flexibility. You can sit on the desk in front of you or on top of a monitor with lots of adjustabilities.

Both are plug and play and don’t require any additional software or drives when used on a standard Windows 10 PC or Mac.

And, a final piece of advice for anyone who uses any type of webcam either external or built-in, always make sure you have good lighting on your face and don’t sit in front of a light source like a window as you will appear as a silhouette on camera.

Both are available from Amazon.co.uk for £70 (€79).

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