It’s almost mid of August and the world is still somehow locked. Travel restrictions blocked significantly all business travels with no sights for a quick restart. On the other hand, we still have to be in contact with each other around the world. Now, the only way to do it is by video conferencing. As I spend now many hours each day on video calls, I started to dig into this topic to find the best video conference camera.
Keep in Touch Remotely
Hearing the voice of other people will never replace face to face meetings. That’s so true, but on the other hand, seeing the image of your partners on the other side of the screen from the camera helps a lot as you can observe other’s people’s expressions, mimics, gestures. That really helps only if the hardware you are using is good enough to see all these details. Usually, it’s not…
The worst thing you can do on the video call is to use your laptop camera. Your partners on the other side will see you from the bottom, with a big head and looking at them like you would search for something on the keyboard. Definitely not a good idea.
That’s why to communicate in a comfortable way through video conference calls, you have to first, choose the right video conference software, second – the right conference call headset, and finally the best video conference camera. In this post, I will tell you, base on my experience, which video conference camera features are important to experience comfortable video calls with a clear image and best video quality.
The Most Important Features of Best Video Conference Camera
I wanted to look at this topic from different angles. There are various needs and expectations for such equipment. That’s why I want to tell you first, how did I select cameras for my review.
Best Video Conference Camera Producers
If you spend hours on calls daily, you have to be sure that your video conference camera will deliver the best video quality. I’m not going to list low budget, no-name products as these kinds of products deliver quality comparable to the price you pay. In this article, I picked the main players on the video cameras market Logitech, Jabra, Polycom, Owl Labs, and Huddly. I think this guarantees that you will get exactly what you need in the right quality.
Types of Video Call Webcams
Let’s start with types. There are three types of video conference cameras:
- Single-user cameras – those which are designed to be just mounted on your PC screen or somewhere else on the desk.
- Conference room cameras – designed for a larger group of users
- Mixed type cameras – will do the job in both situations
Each of the above-mentioned webcam types has a different set of features. In my review, you will find the representations of all categories.
Why These Features
- Connectivity – how the camera connects to your device (wireless or wired)
- Microphone – some cameras are also equipped with good quality mics
- Field of view – what is the angle of view of the camera
- Zoom – does it offer a zoom function?
- Mic pickup range – the distance to the device where microphone still picks up your voice
- Speakers – some cameras have built-in speakers
- Video Quality – one of the most important features. This parameter tells you the resolution of the camera (720p, 1080p, or more?)
- Privacy cover – some cameras offer privacy covers which protects you from any software hackers attempts to capture of your video while you are not aware of it
- Price Range – will show you what you can get for what money
The Best Video Conference Camera
These are my 5 picks for the best video conference camera. If you want to know more about the webcam you are interested in, just click “more” at the bottom of the column in the table.
Huddly Go – Best Video Conference Camera for Single User
Huddly Go is a small size, USB plug and play video conferencing camera for desktop PCs, laptops, and small rooms. It’s a good choice if you want to use it at your desk, but will also work on some video calls within small teams.
It’s compatible with Windows and macOS and supports all most popular conference call apps like Skype, Zoom, WebEx, and Google Hangouts.
Look at its shape, with the mount at the bottom, you can easily attach Huddly Go to any TV screen, laptop or monitor
Another great feature is a 180-degree auto-flip feature. That means, when its mounted upside down, the camera will automatically provide the correct view (the image will automatically flip)
Finally, this small device has an incredible wide-angle lens that provides a 150-degree field of view. That’s one of the best in my reviewed cameras and among others in this range of products. Video quality is just 720p and the camera enables digital, but lossless zoom up to 4x.
What might be a problem for some users (like desktop PC owners) is the length of the USB cable which is delivered with a camera – that’s just 24 inches long… The definitely wrong assumption from the producer’s side.
Another thing is that I don’t expect from such cameras built-in speakers, but at least the microphone should be there. Unfortunately, Huddly Go has no built-in mic, nor speaker.
To summarise, Huddly Go delivers great quality, ultra-wide view 720p image, is small, lightweight, and easy to mount to any device. Despite it has no built-in microphone and the USB cord is to short, Huddly Go is one of the best video conference cameras for single users.
Where to Buy?
- Buy on Amazon: Huddly Go Webcam
- The more advanced solution from Huddly with intelligent framing: Huddly IQ (check on Amazon)
- Single user HD camera from Logitech wit 78-degrees FOV and built-in with privacy cover: Logitech Webcam C920S (check on Amazon)
Logitech BCC950 – Best Mixed-type Video Conference Camera
This one is unique – Logitech BCC950 will work for both, single users and conference calls. It’s also one that I’m currently using on my daily calls. It fits perfectly on the desk but you can also place it on the conference table for video calls up to 4 people. In this price range, it’s difficult to find such a solution.
Let’s start with the design. The camera looks like an eye on a boom. That looks a bit strange but drags attention. The camera head is easily detachable from the boon and can be mounted directly to the main unit. Anyway, the idea of having the camera’s eye leveled with your own eyes is really good. Even without any special mounts, your audience on the other side of the screen sees you looking straight.
Logitech BCC950 is an all-in-one device. The camera is equipped with a good quality speaker and microphone with echo and noise cancellation. Using the device’s front panel it’s possible to steer the camera’s head, control volume, and pick or end the call. All mentioned features can be controller also by using an attached remote controller. That’s super cool if you sit in the larger room.
The camera’s head can rotate to increase the field of view to 180-degrees. But honestly saying, the field of view is the weakness of Logitech BCC950. It’s just 78-degrees which is not different than in typical, much cheaper, single-user Logitech’s products.
Last but not least, the mic’s picking range is rather low (8 feet / 2,4 meters). Together with mentioned low FOV, this solution is perfect for a single user but, base on my experience will also do the job with calls up to max 3 people in the small room (despite the fact that Logitech says it’s up to 4 persons). As I said, this is the camera that I’m currently using, and I can recommend it with a clear conscience.
Where to Buy?
- Buy on Amazon: Logitech BCC950
- Logitech’s single-user camera with a 90-degrees field of view: Logitech C930E Business webcam (check price on Amazon)
Logitech MeetUp – Best Video Conference Camera for Small Meeting Rooms
MeetUp is Logitech’s idea for video conferences in smaller rooms. It has nice, soundbar like design with VESA compatible mounting. But here is the catch – in the box, you will find only wall mount. So you better get your drill ready and find some bolts before MeetUp unboxing. For those who are keen on mounting the camera to TV, there is dedicated Logitech’s accessory available. You can find this VESA TV Mount on Amazon.
MeetUp is another all-in-one device in my review. Besides the camera, you will find there a good quality speaker (up to 95 dB) and the built-in microphone with background noise suppression. The mic’s pickup range is one of the best in class (13 feet / 4 meters) and can be extended with Logitech’s expansion mic accessory (check expansion mic price on Amazon) to 16,4 feet (5 meters).
MeetUp can act also as a loudspeaker. Using Bluetooth you can easily connect your mobile phone with MeetUp and carry on your video call.
Logitech MeetUp has a great 120-degree field of view that enables us to catch all people in the room. Even more, together with the pan and tilt of the camera unit, the total room coverage equals 163-degrees. The video quality parameters are also best in class as MeetUp handles 720p, 1080p, and also ultra 4K video quality.
Another cool MeetUp’s feature is the technology called RightSight. It automatically adjusts camera position to people in the room. RightSight is based on video recognition of people, that’s different from the other systems which base on voice tracking what ends up jumping from person to person. In other words, MeetUp does it in a better way than competitors.
My final word about MeetUp is that it’s a great piece of equipment and it is definitely one of the best video conference camera in 2020. On the other hand, the price is really high. Maybe even too high…
Where to Buy?
- Buy on Amazon: Logitech MeetUp
- A cheaper alternative is Jabra PanaCast, a 4k and 180-degrees room coverage solution for small conference room: Jabra PanaCast (check price on Amazon)
- Also cheaper alternative from Polycom, with 120-degrees FOV: Polycom Studio (check price on Amazon)
- Logitech’s TV mount for MeetUp: Check wall mount’s price on Amazon
- Logitech’s expansion mic accessory for MeetUp: Check expansion mic on Amazon
Meeting Owl Pro – Best Video Conference Camera for Small Meeting Rooms with 360-degrees FOV
Meeting Owl Pro is a camera with a 360-degrees 1080p HD field of view that makes it a perfect solution for conference calls. The device was created by the company Owl Labs – a US-based startup raised in 2014 by two robotic exerts. Meeting Owl is their core product and all its features are focused on business collaboration.
Meeting Owl Pro is the second generation of this product. As it was said before, the Pro version offers 360-degrees FOV in 1080p quality. The Owl version without “Pro” comes with 720p. The autofocus feature automatically highlights and focuses on current speaking persons.
Meeting Owl Pro is another all-in-one device in this review. It has a built-in speaker and a smart mic. Pro version has a great pickup range of 18 feet (5,5 meters), where basic Meeting Owl is just 12 feet (3,7 meters).
The device was designed as a collaboration tool and therefore it’s compatible with all popular video conference software (among the others: Zoom, Webex, GoToMeeting, Skype, Hangouts, MS Teams). All that written so far brings a perfect picture. But it’s worth mentioning some issues which should be considered before purchase.
The product was built by a startup company and has no more than 6 years of history in total. Through that time, Owl Labs improved a lot of issues but still, if you review customer reviews on Amazon, you will find some 1-star ratings. What’s behind these opinions? People mainly complain about connectivity problems (video is working, sound not, and opposite), autofocus is not focusing on speaking person, and mic which is collecting surrounding sounds.
To wrap up this product I would say that Meeting Owl Pro is a very innovative, nice looking conference camera with advanced features helping to improve collaboration. Despite some negative reviews due to some software/hardware glitches, it has a number of happy customers. If you are running or working in an innovative and modern company, this product might a good pick for you.
Where to Buy?
- Buy on Amazon: Meeting Owl Pro
- A cheaper version of Meeting Owl with 720p video quality: Meeting Owl (check price on Amazon)
- Budget 360-degree camera with 1080p video from Lenovo: Lenovo VoIP 360 (check price on Amazon)
Logitech Connect – Best Video Conference Camera for Travelers
Logitech Connect is a portable solution that will work in both situations: as your desktop camera and conference camera for small rooms. Normally, you can have it on your desk – that’s the time when it can recharge the battery, and if you have a call in the other room, just pick it up with you and Logitech Connect will turn to the battery mode that enables 3 hours video conference and 15 hours of audio conference.
The camera is delivered with a remote controller. Using the remote you can easily operate camera pan, tilt, and zoom as well as audio functions (pick/end the call, control the volume). The remote plays also the privacy cover and lens protection (docks using magnets). That’s why you can put it to your bag not worrying about scratches on the lens.
As an all-in-one device, Logitech Connect has a 360-degrees audio speaker with speakerphone function (pairing via Bluetooth) and a built-in mic. The camera enables 1080p full HD video callings with a 90-degrees field of view and 4x digital zoom.
Logitech Connect is the biggest (at least the tallest) camera in my review. It’s 1 foot high and has 3 inches in diameter. Mentioned in this article Logitech BCC950 is also tall with extender (more than 1 foot) but can be compressed to 6 inches. With Logitech Connect you have to stay with this size. This is a bit in contrary to the device’s portability 🙂
To summarize – Logitech Connect is a superb solution. It’s the best video conference camera in this price range due to its multifunctionality and useful features like 90-degrees FOV, battery mode, and remote as privacy cover. Takin this into account, even though it’s a bit too big, does not change my mind that it’s a great product worth recommending.
Where to Buy?
- Buy on Amazon: Logitech Connect
- From this review – small and portable camera with 150-degrees FOV from Huddly: Huddly Go Webcam (check price on Amazon)
It’s time to wrap it all up. As it was said at the very beginning, if you want to have a great conference call experience, you have to ensure the following things:
- Use the right video conference software – you can read about it in my previous article about the best video conference software
- Pick the right audio option. The best way is to use conference call headset – I also wrote about how to pick the best call conference headset some weeks ago
- And finally, find the right camera which will suit to your needs
Different users need different cameras, so before you will decide, answer the following questions:
- Is this camera just for me or we need something to be able to handle the group of coworkers?
- Do I need wider field of view (more people in team) or it does not matter?
- What about the speakers and mic? Should it be an all-in-one device with a built-in mic and speakers or a standalone camera is enough?
- Do I need portable device or I want to mount it forever to the wall/screen?
- Do I need anything extra? Privacy cover, remote controller, autofocus on current speaker?
- And finally, think about the budget. Good and robust product costs. In conference camera world, cheap solutions will bring poor quality with immediate effect.
I hope my video conference camera review will help you to make the right choice in your search for the best video conference camera.
Stay tuned for my next article about conference calls’ survival.
Featured image source: equipment manufacturers & Lucas