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Dell 4K UltraSharp Webcam targets the Logitech Brio's spot

And it hits the mark.

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Lori Grunin/CNET

Dell's debut webcam takes on the 4K Logitech Brio with a smart, sleeker design, an above-average set of features and solid quality for the same $200 price. It all adds up to make the UltraSharp Webcam WB7022 one of my top choices as a webcam for work that can zoom in on your face with less degradation, a respectable webcam for streaming or a quick-and-easy option for shooting 4K video direct to your PC. 

But like the Logitech, the UltraSharp Webcam WB7022 is optimized for use with Windows; it works on the Mac, but the software controlling many of the features isn't compatible. 

It supports all the newest essentials for its price: auto framing; 1080/60fps as well as 4K/30fps and 24fps options for both; HDR to compensate for low light and bright backlighting (it uses a Sony Starvis security-camera sensor like almost all the new webcams); and the typical three field-of-view choices (65, 78 and 90 degrees). 

But it also lets you save custom presets and prioritize exposure or frame rate depending upon your needs. And it's got a built-in IR camera, which makes it compatible with the Windows Hello face login system. If you're feeling sadistic you can also zoom up to 5x digitally and treat your viewers to an ugly bunch o' pixels.

Plus, if you've got a modern Dell laptop, it supports the company's Express Sign-In to automatically detect and put the system to sleep when you leave and to wake and sign you in when you sit back down.

The catch is most of the capabilities require the Dell Peripheral Manager software, which isn't bad as far as these utilities go. Except for the aforementioned absence of MacOS support.

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The webcam's multiple-element lens is the reason it's cylindrical.

Lori Grunin/CNET

Another potential drawback is it lacks a built-in microphone. The decision makes sense. For one, you don't want the audio processing and video sharing the bandwidth. And if you're using it with a laptop, chances are the mic array on the system is better than whatever could be crammed into the camera. Still, it's an inconvenience.

The camera's built from anodized aluminum and comes with two mounts, one to perch it on top of your monitor and a second to use with a tripod; the camera attaches magnetically to the mounts, so it's simple to pop it off one and onto the other as needed. Its bundled privacy cap also attaches magnetically, to either end, so you can slap it on the back when the camera's in use. 

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It connects via USB-C -- USB 3.0 or later is required for 4K -- and the connector is recessed far into the body for both a cleaner look and less likelihood of accidentally detaching. The magnets are integrated into the camera body.

All that metal means it tends to get warm, even when it's not in use. Not hot, but warm enough to indicate something's going on inside.

The design's clever, but not perfect. You can tilt the camera subtly on the mount or more dramatically by perching it at a more acute angle, but you can't rotate it; it has limited panning in software, but it's not very useful. And while it is well built, after just missing the magnetic mount socket a few times the paint around the edges had already begun to flake off.

The paint started flaking off the sides of the mount recess after popping it on and off just a few times.

Lori Grunin/CNET

If you're expecting people on the other end to ooh and aah over your 4K video in conference calls, don't. By the time the video's compressed to fit down the network pipe along with the audio, especially by software like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, it's not appreciably different than top-quality 1080p from a webcam like the Razer Kiyo Pro: the same excellent-except-when-it's-not white balance (it's especially inconsistent in low light) and generally solid autoexposure. Unfortunately, it's hard to fix white balance manually in the same cases where auto white balance doesn't work, which is down to physics, not Dell or Razer.

There is one aspect in which it does stand out, though. Dell incorporates a multielement internal lens -- hence the cylindrical shape -- which helps compensate for the wide-angle distortion you tend to see at 78- and 90-degree FOVs. And it definitely helps. The Dell has the least distortion I've seen in any of these cameras.

It's one of the top webcams I've tested, though none set a high bar. As long as none of the weak spots are deal killers for you, especially the MacOS issues, need for a built-in mic or high price, it should land on your short list of picks as a webcam for image-is-all conferencing, for streaming or as an easy way to shoot 4K video direct to your PC.