Webcams used to be a pretty cut and dry market. Logitech served most people’s general needs with mainstays like the Logitech c920 and the Logitech Brio 4K, and premium manufacturers like Razer addressed niche markets like video game streamers. But after the 2020 pandemic shifted a whole new set of workers to telecommuting, companies raced to enter the market with their own, new options.
Stock was so tricky to find for most of 2020 that which webcam you bought was dependent less on quality and more on availability. But as we approach summer of 2021, that’s finally starting to change. Webcam stock is stabilizing across all contenders, which means we now feel confident making a list of the all-time best webcams of 2021.
Here’s a few details to keep in mind when shopping for the best webcam.
Streaming vs work cam: The webcam market is mostly split into two categories: work, and livestreaming. Livestreaming webcams can run on the expensive side, sometimes up to $500, in exchange for additional features such as 4K, professional-level microphones, and wide-angle lenses.
But since video compression and lag are still problems for most conference call apps, you probably won’t need these features for a home office, with 1080p and often even 720p support being appropriate for most situations.
The best webcams on the market always include some sort of built-in microphone, but that doesn’t mean the audio quality is always top-notch — or even good. With webcams usually situated above and away from your face, it’s not uncommon for built-in mics to be quiet and include plenty of background noise or echo. Consider supplementing your purchase with one of the best gaming headsets or best gaming microphones.
Lighting is a bonus: While built-in lighting isn’t a standard feature on most consumer-level webcams quite yet, manufacturers like Razer are doing their best to change that. It doesn’t matter how capable your camera is if your office’s lighting is too dark to take advantage of it.