5 features your next business webcam should have

Dell Pari webcam concept
(Image credit: Dell)

Whether you’re working from home, based in an office, or any combination of the two, you will likely have noticed the increase in video calls. In an interest to minimize unnecessary contact, companies are turning to videoconferencing to keep in touch.

If it’s time to upgrade your business webcam, the choice is much more complex than it was 20 years ago. Ticking the right boxes will not only satisfy you in the short term, but a well-informed purchase will set you in good stead for years to come.

Here are five key features your next business webcam should have.

 High resolution and frame rate 

The primary purpose of a webcam over a phone call is to enable you to speak face-to-face with somebody that’s potentially hundreds of miles away, allowing you to pick up on hundreds of social and visual cues. If you’re buying your webcam as a business purchase, then you’ll want it to be as clear as possible in order to make the best first impression.

Most built-in webcams are substandard, with many failing to reach 720p (HD Ready). With many now working from home or assuming a hybrid working routine, 1080p (Full HD) is the minimum resolution business users should accept. The premise is simple: the larger the number, the more pixels there are that make up a single shot, so the clearer you will appear.

We think going for a higher resolution 4K webcam will futureproof you for years to come, but be sure that your computer and indeed your broadband connection can handle the large file sizes that a 4K webcam will produce. There are some options that can exceed this, and while they have their place with a select group of professionals, most people will be unable to visually determine any difference in quality beyond 4K. Furthermore, few videoconferencing systems support anything higher than 4K.

Because a video is a stream of pictures in quick succession, a high resolution goes hand-in-hand with a high frame rate. Measured in frames per second, a 30fps setup should be adequate for most scenarios. If you’re likely to be showing more than just your face - a whiteboard demonstration, for example - something with a higher frame rate could prove beneficial: in the region of 60fps.

This can become a problem when deciding which business webcam to buy; unless you’re willing to pay some serious cash, most webcams are unable to offer both a high resolution and a high frame rate. Consider which quality is most important to you and your specific use.

Autofocus and low light sensitivity

You’re likely using a webcam because you’re working in an office. Whether that’s a well-lit room with large panes of glass or a dingy home office tucked away in your spare room, you’ll want to consider how well the webcam can deal with its environment.

Choose a model with good autofocus to always show a clear feed of yourself. You can rock back into your sumptuous chair or lean into your palm as much as you want safe in the knowledge that you’ll remain in focus.

Good sensitivity to light is similarly as important, more so for those likely to be working from different places throughout the week. Each room has its own lighting qualities, whether that’s the brightness or the warmth, but a good business webcam will be able to adapt without underexposing its subject.

Glass lens 

When choosing a webcam, it can be easy to focus on impressive figures and neat features, but there is one thing that’s often overlooked, and sometimes only quietly mentioned in a manufacturer’s spec sheet.

Built-in webcams in most laptops are covered by a plastic lens. This is great for keeping the cost down because a laptop needs to satisfy an endless range of job descriptions as well as be light and portable. That’s about where the benefits of this material end, though.

Plastic lenses are less durable than glass lenses, which means they are more prone to scratching and clouding over time. Think about it: your smartphone and digital camera have glass lenses, so why settle for anything less when it comes to business?

A professional webcam with a glass lens can prove marginally more costly, but it’s an expense worth paying as it’s less likely to limit the other features of your webcam (that high resolution, for example).

High-quality microphone 

There’s no doubt that there are more things to consider in a webcam in order to help you visually stand out, but having a perfect picture is no good if your colleague or boss is unable to hear you. Check whether your business webcam has a microphone built-in; cheaper models often forgo this to cut costs but most mid-priced options will have their own mics that are likely better than your computer’s built-in hardware.

Going for a beamforming microphone can help to focus on the sound coming out of your mouth, but pay attention to its range. At first, a mic with a long reach may sound great, but if your home office is the house’s smallest room, you’re unlikely to need such a powerful microphone and it could even prove detrimental, picking up noise from other rooms.

Consider any software enhancements when it comes to sound. AI like echo reduction or sound cancellation can be a god-send when your children in the next room are fighting about who gets to Zoom Granny next using your swanky new webcam.

USB-C connection 

If you forgot to consider your webcam’s connection, we can almost guarantee you won’t be alone Historically, webcams have connected via USB-A which has proven stable enough for the most part.

With huge improvements in video and sound quality, the size of the file you’ll need to transmit to your team will require some pretty high speeds. A USB-C connection will prove more suitable, so long as your computer has a USB-C port.

Although it’s entirely unrelated to your business webcam purchase, we couldn’t miss this opportunity to remind you about monitoring your broadband speeds. A faster Internet connection will better support high-res video and audio and allow you to show off your new toy in all its glory.

We've featured the best office desks.

Craig Hale

With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!