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How to choose the best webcam

Cooley compares four popular webcams to show you what features to shop for and which ones to skip.

Brian Cooley Editor at Large
Brian Cooley is CNET's Editor at large and has been with the brand since 1995. He currently focuses on electrification of vehicles but also follows the big trends in smart home, digital healthcare, 5G, the future of food, and augmented & virtual realities. Cooley is a sought after presenter by brands and their agencies when they want to understand how consumers react to new technologies. He has been a regular featured speaker at CES, Cannes Lions, Advertising Week and the Publicis HealthFront. He was born and raised in Silicon Valley when Apple's campus was mostly apricots.
Expertise Automotive technology, smart home, digital health. Credentials
  • 5G Technician, ETA International
Brian Cooley
3 min read

There are so many webcams out there it's hard to know which one and which specs are going to make you look the best with the least effort. Here are four I really like right now, with important shopping lessons that each one embodies. 

Lori Grunin/CNET

The Dell UltraSharp is a fresh entry from a company known mostly for computers. The build quality of this sleek cylindrical camera is marvelous, as are its slick magnetic mounting adapters and lens cap. Not so marvelous is its lack of an internal microphone or Mac compatibility, but the latter isn't too surprising from a leading maker of Windows PCs.

The UltraSharp is a 4K camera with an 8.3-megapixel sensor, 5x digital zoom and a field of view running from 65 to 90 degrees. The premise is not so much about shoving cinematic detail down the line to the other end of your Zoom call but rather automatically panning within the 4K image to keep you properly framed if you move around. It works very well and is the smartest use of 4K in a webcam, rather than going for ultimate resolution that most telepresence platforms can't convey anyway.

Osbot Tiny 2 and remote

The Obsbot Tiny 2 is a premium 4K PTZ webcam, but that doesn't mean you'll be pushing 4K down a video call. Rather, it gives the camera's AI lots of pixels to work with as it zooms and frames you automatically. Automatic pan, tilt and zoom has been a hallmark of Obsbot cameras from the beginning, but the Tiny 2 improves it to a level that no longer needs apologies: It operates as if a live cameraperson is shooting you. This framing magic allows you to be comfortable and real while the camera caters to you and injects a nice live energy into your video presence. 

The Tiny 2 has notably improved image processing thanks to a larger image sensor and better algorithms that process what comes out of it. This balances and tunes all the parts of your image to render something that can actually be called beautiful. It's an easy way to stand out in the world of ugly little tiles we call a meeting today.

Obsbot cameras have long had gesture control for manual zoom but I find it mostly a curiosity. Making hand gestures while you're on camera is weirdly distracting unless you only do it before you join a meeting, limiting the use cases. The Tiny 2 recognizes more gestures, and now voice commands, but I eschew both for the on-screen app or the new physical remote that comes with the Tiny 2.

The Tiny 2 does its best with its internal microphones and audio processing, but can't overcome the physical laws of acoustics, which just don't reward a mouth being 2 to 3 feet away from a mic. Get a good headset with a boom mic, like my trusty Sennheiser SC635 so your sound can keep up with the Tiny 2's image.

Logitech Brio 4K

The Logitech Brio became something of a COVID icon -- hard to find and obscenely marked up -- as millions started "zooming it in" and wanted to snatch up a flagship cam from a massively popular brand. The Brio remains a good cam with 4K resolution and a 13-megapixel sensor, but I find it's slipped a bit behind the other cameras in this list in terms of focus sharpness, its ability to even out wonky lighting and its $165 list price.

Read our Logitech Brio 4K Pro Webcam preview.


The Anker PowerConf C300 is proof that you can spend a lot closer to $100 than $200 and get a great webcam. For its $100 list price you won't get 4K resolution or a robotic gimbal head, but you will get excellent light handling and focus. And it has the best privacy cover in the bunch: A simple slider that you can't lose and that is so easy to move it won't bump your camera's aim when you open or close it.

The street price on the C300 is frequently drops under $100, which makes its really good image processing that much more of a reason not to sweat its lack of 4K, cutting-edge gimmicks or stunning design. 

The camera in the lid of your laptop or bezel of your tablet is likely not doing you justice in a world where showing up clearly and naturally on the other end is essential to getting fully heard and seen.