Technology has rendered overhead projectors all but obsolete. Now that you have PowerPoint, who needs to enlarge transparencies and project them onto a wall or screen? But while presentations can include all manner of video and audio these days, there’s nothing like the immediacy of doing something live on camera, and that’s where document cameras come into play.

Universal Application

Additional illumination, built-in focusing and integrated microphone make this plug-and-play device easy to use for Ultra High Definition video streaming. INSWAN

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Before you plunge in and buy your camera, take time to think about the existing tech that you’ll be using it with. These aren’t standalone devices, they’re effectively computer peripherals and while some will work seamlessly with all operating systems, that’s not the case with all of them. If you’re a Mac fan, make sure you’re not investing in something that will only support Windows, and vice-versa.

High Quality Video Streaming

With an 8-megapixel camera shooting at up to 30 frames per second and fast focus, this universally compatible device is ideal for fuss-free presentations, wherever you are. IPEVO

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If you’re planning on using your document camera primarily for video footage—to demonstrate calligraphy strokes, lab work or something similar—then your priority needs to be a camera that has a high frame rate (around 30 frames per second), good picture resolution and the ability to produce clear, lag-free footage, even when streaming live.

Smart Scanning

Designed as much for fast scanning documents as for streaming HD video, this versatile, go-anywhere device weighs less than two pounds and combines intelligent shooting with image correction and recognition. iCODIS

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For some, a document camera is for exactly that. It can take the place of a scanner, allowing you take images of, say, the pages of a bound book, and then using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to transform the scanned image into an editable and searchable document. This can be very helpful when you’re looking to digitize an archive or series of books or documents. In this instance, you should be looking for features such as intelligent continuous shooting, where you can set the frequency of image capture so you have time to turn pages.