Cambridge University Computer Lab set up the first webcam in 1991 but things have moved on quite a lot since that first grainy black and white image. These days most laptops and computers come with a video camera built-in, but it may not meet the standards you’re hoping for. Do yourself a favour, and splash out on an external computer camera that connects via USB, can be placed in a suitable location, and often gives a better image than your existing built-in tech.
Comes with fixings for a tripod as well as a clip, making it as useful for content creation as for virtual meetings, and with the ability to work seamlessly with most mainstream operating systems. Logitech
These days most peripherals will play nicely with almost all computer operating systems, but for the ultimate in fuss-free installation, do check whether the camera that you’re planning on buying is compatible with your computer. Most will work with all systems, after a fashion, but you might need to download other software, or use a workaround, which isn’t always ideal if you’re not tech literate.
With Noise-Reducing Mics
Universal compatibility and excellent resolution make this fixed focus model a nice budget option. AUKEY
If you’re after quality, know the numbers that you’re looking at and what they mean. Resolution refers to the number of individual pixels—the more there are, the sharper the picture, too few, and it can look grainy. 1080 is pretty standard and will do the job nicely. The other figure worth checking is the number of frames per second (fps) your chosen camera can snap. The higher the number, the smoother the feed, but 30fps will be adequate for most people. Your internet connection and bandwidth is also a factor—however high spec your camera is, if the internet is throttled, your picture will be poor.
With the ability to focus automatically and adjust for low light settings, this lens accommodates multiple users and also comes with an attachable privacy shield to ensure you’re not seen when you don’t want to be. AUSDOM
Baffled by the options, take a moment to think about who is usually going to be using the device. If it’s just you on a video conference, you can probably ignore the field of view figure that shows you the angle that the camera will capture. But if you regularly have a team working with you, or multiple family members who you want to keep in shot, look for a device with a wide-angle lens.