You can usually tell when there’s a high demand for something when you start seeing numerous knockoffs and dupes from internet-based independent sellers and retailers popping up on Amazon. At the height of the pandemic, with everyone on Earth seemingly looking for ways to connect with others without leaving their homes, webcams had their time in the spotlight. Naturally, lesser-known manufacturers and even unknown brands had to get in on the action.
This proved to be a blessing then, especially because big-name manufacturers like Logitech and Microsoft couldn’t keep up with the demand. Most of the best webcams were sold out for months, leaving a chunk of the population seeking alternatives. Enter the new breed of webcam brands from Amazon, which not only helped ease the burden but also offered cheaper options.
Now that webcams from trusted manufacturers are mostly back in stock, is it still worth buying a cheap webcam on Amazon? Let's find out.
Cheap webcams: low price may not be what it seems
In general, webcams from unknown Amazon brands with names that look like a bunch of letters randomly strung together (HZQDLN and DEPSTECH) are cheaper than their big-brand counterparts.
You’ll find, for example, that a 1080p webcam from XPCAM or even the better-known NexiGo would set you back at least half of what you’ll pay for were you to get it from Logitech, Microsoft or Razer. In fact, they cost about the same as Logitech and Microsoft’s 720p offerings. Not only that but these webcams are often discounted on Amazon, allowing you to save even more.
That’s excellent news, especially for the average consumer simply looking for a functional webcam that won’t set them back more than $50/£50.
When you start to go into the realm of 4K webcams, that rule doesn’t always apply. Sure, you’ll find sub-$100 options like the DEPSTECH DW49 and the Sansisco 4K. But, you’ll also see many “cheap” 4K webcams that either cost just as much as their big-name counterparts or are only $20 or so cheaper. The WyreStorm Focus 210 Webcam 4K and the NexiGo N950P are good examples.
If you’re going on Amazon to find a cheap webcam, it might be worth exploring what Logitech and Dell have to offer first, especially if you’re using that webcam for work or business, which we’ll discuss more later.
The battle of 1080p webcams
Looking in the budget aisle already shows that you want to spend as little as possible, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re also willing to sacrifice features or picture quality. Whether buying a cheap webcam on Amazon is worth it or not largely depends what you’ll be using it for.
If you’re looking at cheap webcams because you want something that’s good enough for video calls with friends and family, then the combination of their cheap price tag, 1080p resolution and positive reviews on Amazon make them worth considering, even if you’re not familiar with the brand. Same for remote workers who don’t need anything fancy, just a working webcam for those daily standups and meetings with the team.
The XPCAM FHD Webcam, for example, enjoys a 4.3 out of 5 rating on Amazon and mostly positive reviews from verified customers praising it for its build, easy set up and included accessories (tripod and privacy shutter). Many have also praised it for its good picture quality.
Meanwhile, the NexiGo N60 has a higher 4.4 out of 5 rating and more than 21,000 reviews. Verified customers applaud not just its easy installation, but also its picture quality and auto focus feature. One reviewer even said that its picture quality is better than that of his iMac.
Even if you need something with special features like a ring light or a noise-cancelling mic, it’s worth scouring Amazon for a cheap option. The NexiGo StreamCam N930E, for example, comes with both those things while still costing less than any 1080p webcam Logitech has on offer currently.
People who spend money on a 4K webcam are typically using it for business. And, by that we mean everyone from owners of local brick-and-mortar establishments and content creators to those with high positions in financial institutions. After all, 4K webcams are still pretty expensive and most people do not need that ultra high-definition resolution for their video calls.
If you’re considering getting a 4K webcam for your business, you might be better off going with a trusted brand. That’s because you don’t really know anything about those vendors on Amazon, which means you don’t know whether or not they themselves are manufacturing those webcams and if they’re even developing the firmware being used. When you’re dealing with sensitive information, that firmware could easily be used (and that webcam could easily be hacked) to obtain that information.
Those cheap 4K webcams might be $20/£20 or $30/£30 cheaper, but there’s also a higher risk of a security breach that might cost you even more money – or worse, your actual business.
If you’re just getting a 4K webcam just because you want super sharp picture quality when on your personal calls, something like the DEPSTECH DW40 or the Sansisco 4K Webcam should suffice. However, if you’re dealing with sensitive or classified information that might be used against you, it’s not worth the risk – even if there are a few things you can do to minimize that risk.
- Check out the best cheap webcams
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Michelle Rae Uy is the Computing Reviews and Buying Guides Editor here at TechRadar. She's a Los Angeles-based tech, travel and lifestyle writer covering a wide range of topics, from computing to the latest in green commutes to the best hiking trails. She's an ambivert who enjoys communing with nature and traveling for months at a time just as much as watching movies and playing sim games at home. That also means that she has a lot more avenues to explore in terms of understanding how tech can improve the different aspects of our lives.