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Future Intel Laptops Could Mandate 8-Megapixel Webcams

Tired of a miserly low-resolution webcam on your Intel-powered laptop? That could soon be a thing of the past, if leaked specifications for Intel’s Evo 4.0 platform are anything to go by, as much better picture quality is apparently in the offing.

According to NotebookCheck, the fourth generation of Intel’s Evo platform — which could be introduced with the upcoming Raptor Lake series of processors pegged for the third quarter of 2022 — will mandate 8-megapixel cameras on all laptops running this spec. In other words, if laptop manufacturers want to work with Intel to be Evo-accredited, they will need to up their webcam game.

Riley Young/Digital Trends

High resolution isn’t the only thing that could become a requirement. NotebookCheck claims other specs are likely to be part of the Evo 4.0 specification, including an 80-degree field of view, plus a passing grade on the VCX benchmark.

What is VCX, you ask? Well, Intel is now part of the VCX forum (short for Valued Camera eXperience), which scores laptop webcams based on certain benchmarks. These include texture loss, motion control, sharpness, dynamic range, the camera’s performance under various lighting conditions, and more. At the end, a final score is given. And it now seems that Intel will be expecting manufacturers’ webcams to hit a minimum score (as yet unknown) in order to pass muster.

Interestingly, NotebookCheck’s report says that any webcams placed below the user’s eye line will be awarded negative points in the VCX test. Someone better tell the Huawei MateBook X Pro.

With Intel’s Raptor Lake series set for later in 2022, could we see some of these webcam improvements in this year’s Alder Lake-based laptops? That’s certainly possible. Intel will allegedly have VCX benchmark scores ready by the first quarter of 2022, so we might see a few devices appear that meet these standards before Raptor Lake steps into the limelight. Just don’t bet the farm on it.

Alongside Intel, Microsoft has also reportedly begun enforcing minimum standards for its partner devices. Like Intel, the company wants manufacturers to hit certain specs for webcams, microphones, and speakers. With two giants of the industry pushing manufacturers to up their game, we could finally be able to bid flimsy webcams and crackly mics adieu.

Editors’ Choice




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The Best Logitech Webcams for 2021

There’s a Logitech webcam for nearly every use case, and we’ve got the list to prove it. Whether you’re a student who needs an affordable webcam to attend class, a gamer who livestreams their games, or just someone who needs one for their work-from-home setup, we’ve picked the best webcams Logitech has to offer for your specific needs. These are the best Logitech webcams you can buy for 2021.

The best Logitech webcams at a glance:

The best Logitech webcam overall: Logitech C920S

Logitech.com

Why should you buy this? It’s a great 1080p webcam that won’t break the bank but can still handle work-from-home meetings and video calls with friends and family.

Who’s it for? Those who want a reasonably priced all-purpose webcam for work and play.

Why we picked the Logitech C920S:

The Logitech C920S isn’t our best overall pick in our best webcams list for nothing. For just $60, you’ll get a 1080p webcam that’s built to handle multiple use cases like videoconferencing and recording videos. There’s even an emphasis on privacy, as it comes with a huge attachable privacy shutter. The C920S proves you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars just to get a Full HD webcam with dual-microphone stereo audio. This webcam also comes with autofocus and an automatic light-correction feature called RightLight 2, both of which work to enhance your video quality during your calls, even in low-light situations.

The best 4K Logitech webcam: Logitech BRIO Ultra HD

Logitech BRIO Ultra HD webcam on a white background.

Why should you buy this? It’s the dream webcam that has everything you need, plus a few things you never even thought of: 4K resolution, support for Windows Hello, light correction, HDR technology, a privacy shade, and microphones with noise cancellation.

Who’s it for? For those willing to spend a little more for a 4K webcam with a few extra bells and whistles. 

Why we picked the Logitech BRIO Ultra HD:

If you’ve got room in your budget, why not treat yourself with this 4K webcam from Logitech? It’s over $100 but it has a long list of features that make the price worth it: 4K resolution, autofocus, automatic light correction, support for Windows Hello facial recognition, optical and infrared sensors, HDR (high dynamic range), 5x digital zoom, and two omnidirectional mics with noise cancellation. With the Logitech BRIO Ultra HD, you can simply do more and look and sound polished and professional while doing it.  This webcam would be a great fit for livestreaming or business meetings.

The best Logitech webcam for students: Logitech C270 HD

Logitech C270 HD webcam on a white background.
Amazon/Logitech

Why should you buy this? It’s a super-affordable, bare-bones webcam that offers decent video resolution, noise reduction, and compatibility with Chromebooks.

Who’s it for? If you’re a student on a tight budget but you need a solid webcam for your online classes. 

Why we picked the Logitech C270 HD:

On the other hand, if all you need is a simple, budget-friendly webcam for your online classes, you should take a look at the Logitech C270 HD. At 720p, the resolution is lower than our other Logitech webcam picks, but it still features automatic light correction and a microphone with noise reduction. It’s also certified by Logitech to work with Chromebooks. It doesn’t have a privacy shutter, but with the money you’ll save on this webcam, you can buy a webcam cover for it, and you can find one on our list of the best webcam covers.

The best Logitech webcam for business: Logitech C930E

Logitech C930E webcam on a white background.
Adorama/Logitech

Why should you buy this? It’s a webcam designed to ensure that your work presentation or conference call goes well, with features that help you avoid annoying interruptions while capturing high-quality video and audio.

Who’s it for? For those who need a more professional webcam that’s optimized to make sure their video conference calls run smoothly. 

Why we picked the Logitech C930E:

This webcam is designed and optimized for business settings: 1080p resolution, autofocus, automatic light correction, 4x digital zoom, a detachable privacy shade, an expansive 90-degree field of view for whiteboards, and dual omnidirectional microphones with noise cancellation. It’s the Logitech webcam you’ll want if you want to make sure those important business meetings and training sessions go swimmingly. In fact, if you struggle with issues like low-light settings, limited bandwidth, or background noise, the Logitech C930E has features that will address all of them: Automatic light correction (RightLight 2 and autofocus), support for H.264 and UVC 1.5 video compression, and noise cancellation.

The best wallet-friendly Logitech webcam for content creators: Logitech C920x HD Pro

Logitech C920x HD Pro webcam on a white background.
Amazon/Logitech

Why should you buy this? It’s not just for recording videos; it has features that can enhance your content at a respectable price: 1080p resolution, dual microphones, and a three-month X-Split VCam license for customizing your background and video for live broadcasts.

Who’s it for? For YouTubers on a budget.

Why we picked the Logitech C920x HD Pro:

It can handle video calls, sure, but this webcam really shines when it’s used for recording videos or livestreaming. High-quality webcams designed for content creation can get pricey, but if you need a Full HD option that will be easy on your wallet, the C920x is a great pick.

For less than $100, you’ll get: 1080p video calling and recording, dual microphones with stereo audio, and automatic light correction. You can even customize your videos and live broadcasts with the Logitech Capture app or with the included three-month X-Split VCam license. This webcam is also certified by Logitech to work with Chromebooks.

The best Logitech webcam for live-streaming gamers: Logitech C922 Pro Stream

Logitech C922 Pro Stream webcam with tripod on a white background.
Amazon/Logitech

Why should you buy this? This webcam comes with a fast 720p resolution at 60 frames per second that is perfect for smooth livestreaming on YouTube or Twitch.

Who’s it for? For gamers who want to livestream their gameplay.

Why we picked the Logitech C922 Pro Stream:

If you’re a gamer who wants to livestream their games, you’ll want a webcam that is built to optimize your livestreams. Enter the Logitech C922 Pro Stream. It comes with two resolution options (up to 1080p), but if you’re livestreaming your games, you’ll want to use its speedy 720p resolution at 60 fps for the best video quality. You’ll also get no-drop audio, autofocus, light correction, two microphones, and a free tripod.

Buying guide and FAQ

Which is the best Logitech webcam?

Our pick for the best Logitech webcam overall is the Logitech C920S. We feel it offers the most for your money. It’s an all-purpose webcam that only costs $60 and features a 1080p resolution, dual-mic stereo audio, and automatic light correction.

How much should you spend on a Logitech webcam?

It depends on your needs. If you just need a simple webcam for school, you can get away with spending as low as $25, but you’ll only get a 720p resolution, so keep that in mind. If you need lots of extras like support for Windows Hello (and the sensors it requires), HDR, and noise cancellation, you’ll need to be prepared to spend $100 or more for those features. You’ll also need to factor in accessories you may need, like webcam privacy covers or tripods. Some Logitech webcams already come with those things (and may cost more because of it), but if they don’t, you might need to purchase those accessories separately.

Do you need a 4K webcam?

Overall, it’s not really necessary to have a 4K webcam, as a number of popular videoconferencing services only allow a maximum of 1080p or 720p anyway, but 4K webcams can still be helpful in making your video calls and video recordings look more polished. At this point, 4K webcams aren’t required for smooth video calling, but they can provide welcome enhancements which could be useful in situations where you’re recording video or doing a live broadcast.

Editors’ Choice




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Computing

Computer privacy: Laptop microphones are harder to block than webcams

If computer privacy is critical enough that many laptops now include a physical webcam shutter, why can’t you do the same for the microphone?

It’s a question that PC makers should be asking themselves. Some, like Dell, say they’re working on a solution. But for whatever reason, reassuring customers that their conversations aren’t being monitored doesn’t seem to be a high priority, especially with consumer laptops. Fortunately, one recent model from HP signals a way forward.

google home vs amazon echo Amazon and Google

We now live in an era where we demand always-on connected services, and yet we’re terrified that someone else is listening.

A future where everything listens to you

Part of the problem simply may be the inertia driving us toward an era of always-on, always-listening devices. At their respective developer conferences in May, both Microsoft and Google suggested a future where a user would trigger an assistant with a wake word, and then an interactive conversation would take place naturally. Currently, assistants like Cortana and Google Assistant end the conversation after a single query. In Microsoft’s Cortana demo, the conversation lasted for several minutes. But there was no “thanks” or “that’s all, Cortana” to signal the end of the exchange and tell Cortana to stop listening.

Consumer expectations may be another driver. At least a subset of users seems to think that a device that isn’t always listening to them is in some way defective. Consider the customer responses before the other major assistant, Amazon Alexa, responded to wake words within Windows 10. (Yes, there are now two digital assistants capable of listening to your every command, built right into your PC.) Alexa’s inability to listen in was viewed as a critical shortcoming.

2nd gen echo buttons Michael Brown

The 2nd-generation Amazon Echo has an array of seven far-field microphones mounted on top, but also a button (at left) to turn them off.

Here’s the thing: Even if they buy always-connected smart speakers, consumers do care about privacy. That’s evidenced by the fact that most smart speakers like the Echo Dot now include some form of physical button for disabling the microphone.

We don’t know much that button is actually used, but there’s an important reason to have it. We know that Amazon, Google, and Microsoft aggressively collect as much data as you’ll allow. As Geoff Fowler of The Washington Post has chronicled, Amazon’s Alexa squirrels away dozens or hundreds of interactions she’s sampled. If you were an early adopter of a device like the Echo Dot, those recordings go back years.

Another fundamental problem is that when Alexa isn’t sure whether you’ve summoned her, she errs on the side of Amazon, not you, Fowler found. Even if it turns out that you haven’t asked anything of Alexa, the recording still exists. Your PC simply gives assistants like Alexa another way to collect information.

PCs already protect you from spying webcams…

While few laptops control their microphones as easily as smart speakers do, controlling webcams is an established practice. Consider the official and unofficial “privacy shutters” that adorn notebook PCs today—everything from adhesive tape and Post-It Notes to more sophisticated solutions, like the ThinkShutter on some of Lenovo’s ThinkPad notebooks for businesses. 

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Computing

The Best Webcams for 2021

Laptop webcams suck. If you’re stuck doing Zoom calls or web conferencing from your home, you’ll need a decent external webcam. 

The Logitech C920S is the best choice. It’s affordable and provides crisp image quality. If you need a higher resolution or a streaming-specific option, check the full list below.

The best webcams at a glance:

The best overall webcam: Logitech C920S

Why should you buy this? It’s a solid 1080p webcam at a decent price.

Who’s it for? It’s perfect for work-from-home employees.

Why we picked the Logitech C920S:

Logitech’s C920S is a solid camera for a decent price. It supports a 1920 x 1080 resolution (at 30 frames per second) during Skype or Zoom calls. Meanwhile, it can do 1280 x 720 resolution while using Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, and more. If you’re simply recording video, you can take advantage of the higher Full HD resolution. Images, however, are captured using a “natural” 3-megapixel resolution or are “software enhanced” up to 15 megapixels.

These abilities are facilitated by an excellent glass lens backed by 20-step autofocus, automatic low-light correction, two integrated microphones with automatic noise cancellation, and a 78-degree field of view. If you’re worried about cam privacy, there’s a physical shutter you can flip down when the cam isn’t used.

The Logitech C920S’s downloadable software for Windows includes face tracking, motion detection, controls for pan, tilt, and zoom, and controls for capturing video and photos. It doesn’t filter out your background, but there are plenty of other settings to adjust.

The best 4K webcam: Logitech Brio

Why should you buy this? It provides crisp, high-quality web conferencing.

Who’s it for? Anyone doing professional recordings or high-end web conferences.

Why we picked the Logitech Brio:

If you’re looking for a 4K solution, the Logitech Brio is the camera for you. It supports three resolutions for video calling: 2,160p (30fps), 1,080p (30/60fps), and 720p (30/60/90fps). It also provides a default field of view of 90 degrees, but you can adjust the camera to 65 and 78 degrees using Logitech’s software.

As for other features, the camera provides a 5x digital zoom when using the Full HD resolution, an image resolution of up to 9MP, autofocus, an external privacy shutter, and built-in omnidirectional microphones with noise cancellation. You can mount the camera on a desktop monitor, laptop screen, or use the universal clip to mount the device on a tripod.

Outside the Logitech Brio’s Ultra HD resolution, it includes a feature called RightLight 3, which relies on High Dynamic Range technology to provide the best image, whether you’re sitting in a low-light office, in a high contrast area, or direct sunlight. The camera supports Windows Hello facial recognition too.

The best business webcam: Logitech C930E

Why should you buy this? It locks in well with professional conferencing ecosystems.

Who’s it for? Business professionals.

Why we picked the Logitech C930e:

The Logitech C930E is a “certified” product optimized for Skype for Business and Cisco Jabber. According to Logitech, the camera also provides “enhanced integrations” with other business-class communication software such as Zoom, BlueJeans, Lifesize, and several other solutions.

On a hardware level, the camera supports video calling at 1080p and 720p resolutions, a field of view at 90 degrees, and 4x digital zoom in 1080p mode. It relies on the H.264 codec for video compression and RightLight 2 technology to produce good visuals in low light, high contrast, and direct sunlight conditions. It’s backed by two integrated omnidirectional microphones.

Other notable features on the Logitech C930E include an external privacy shutter, a universal clip for mounting the camera, and compatibility with software that supports UVC 1.5 video encoding for businesses that don’t allow third-party drivers installed on their PCs.

The best gaming webcam: Logitech C922 Pro Stream Webcam

Why should you buy this? It’s a webcam with the specific gaming features streamers need.

Who’s it for? Gamers running livestreams.

Why we picked the Logitech C922 Pro Stream Webcam:

Let’s face it: You can’t use just any webcam for your broadcasts. It not only needs a high resolution and great microphones, but it also needs to support background replacement so all your viewers see is the gameplay and your mugshot. The C922 Pro Stream Webcam does just that for a decent price.

For gamers, it’s optimized for the XSplit and OBS apps. It provides 1080 x 720 (at 30 fps) and 1280 x 720 (at 60 fps) resolutions. These are backed by 20-step autofocus, a field of view of 78 degrees, two integrated omnidirectional microphones, and automatic low-light correction. It even includes a tabletop tripod if you don’t want to mount the camera on your screen.

Most stream management features are handled through the Logitech Gaming Software desktop client, such as setting the zoom, white balance, gain, exposure, and so on. The cam does integrate Chromacam technology for its background replacement options, or you can simply run it independently. The Logitech C922 camera does not include a privacy shutter, though.

The best webcam for streaming: Razer Kiyo

Why should you buy this? It’s a webcam with built-in lighting.

Who’s it for? Anyone doing streaming that needs better lighting.

Why we picked the Razer Kiyo:

As a mere webcam, the Razer Kiyo impresses. It offers up to 1080p resolution at 30 fps and an autofocus component that comes in handy when moving closer to the cam or adjusting its position. The Kiyo is also compatible with Streamlabs tools, OBS, XSplit, and other popular platforms for customizing your streaming setup just the way you like.

But the real draw here is the light ring circling the webcam to provide extra illumination. The 5600K light is easily adjustable via the bezel — simply twist it like adjusting a camera lens to control the brightness levels. It’s designed to work well in low-light settings when necessary.

The Razer Kiyo is an ideal choice for cosmetics streaming given you need top-quality illumination around your face to stream high-quality content. It also works well for any detailed streaming where you plan to show product details close to the webcam for unboxings, technical instructions, etc.

The best inexpensive webcam: GoHZA W8A

Why should you buy this? It offers great 4K image quality at the low price of $33.

Who’s it for? Anyone who needs a simple budget webcam that still offers great quality.

Why we picked the GoHZQ W8A:

The GoHZQ W8A was the top pick in our roundup of five popular webcams on Amazon thanks to its combination of 4K resolution (the only one in our roundup) and some of the best image quality we saw in our tests. The camera handled both bright and darker environments with aplomb, managing to show accurate colors and avoid blowing out any lighter spots.

You don’t get many extras with the GoHZQ W8A. There’s no special software or illumination, although there is a privacy cover and a very cheap tripod included. But you’re not buying this one for the features — you’re buying it for the price and image quality.

Editors’ Choice




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Lenovo ThinkPad X, T Series Refresh Includes 1080p Webcams

Lenovo has announced a sweeping update to its ThinkPad X and T-series line of laptops, which include select models with 1080p webcams.

These higher-resolution webcams are a first for ThinkPads, but also count them among the very few FHD options currently available. The refreshed models include the second generation of ThinkPad X13, X13 Yoga, T14S, T14, and T15. Among those, however, only the X13 and T14S feature the new camera upgrade as an option. Even so, jumping up to 1080p is only available in upgrade configurations, not in the base models.

Of course, there’s much more to these new upgrades than just improved webcams. Let’s break it down, starting with the ThinkPad X-series.

Lenovo ThinkPad X13 and X13 Yoga Gen 2

The X13 and X13 Yoga are the company’s two smallest ThinkPads, which use a 13-inch screen rather than a 14-inch. In the latest generation, they also feature a wider touchpad that now has a smoother tracking surface, as well as a relocated fingerprint scanner that’s now built into the power button.

These two models have both moved to a 16:10 aspect ratio, matching what the company did last month with its ThinkPad X1 flagship line. This means taller screens, more pixels, less wasted space, and thinner bezels. It was one of our biggest complaints about the original ThinkPad X13, which included thick, outdated bezels.

They also all include a new color and material option, an aluminum “storm grey” color. These aluminum ThinkPads feature CNC machined sidewalls, which offer a slight shine to the otherwise matte finish.

While the X13 Yoga has just a 720p camera, it does include both a 360-degree hinge and a built-in stylus, housed in its own slot by the keyboard. Lenovo says that while the clamshell models continue to outsell the 2-in-1s, the company continues to see year-over-year growth in its “Yoga” category.

The X13 and X13 Yoga both include options for the latest Intel 11th-gen vPro processors or Ryzen 5000 Pro, as well support for either 4G LTE or 5G connectivity.

The X13 weighs 2.62 pounds and is 0.72 inches thick, while the X13 Yoga is 2.65 pounds and 0.61 inches thick. Both models can be configured with up to 32GB of RAM (at 4,266MHz), 2TB of SSD storage, and up to a Core i7 or Ryzen 7 processor.

Both the X13 and X13 Yoga come with a range of display options, ranging from a non-touch 1920 x 1200 up to the “low-power” 2560 x 1600 resolution.

The AMD version of the ThinkPad X13 will be available starting at $1,139, while the Intel starts at $1,299.

Lenovo ThinkPad T14s, T14, and T15 Gen 2

The T-series includes larger, bulkier ThinkPads, though the T14s is clearly the most modern-looking of the bunch. The “s” stands for slim, as the T14s is just 0.63 inches thick and 2.8 pounds compared to the 0.7-inch thickness and 3.23 pounds of the standard T14.

The T14s is also the only T-series laptop to feature some of the premium features coming to the X13, such as the fingerprint sensor built into the power button and support for 5G.

Like the X-series, Lenovo has fully adopted AMD Ryzen 5000 Pro as an alternative to the Intel vPro models. Outside of differences in processing power, the only feature difference is Thunderbolt 4, which is still an exclusive Intel technology. The Intel models also include Wi-Fi 6E, a faster connectivity standard that Ryzen has yet to adopt.

The T14 and T15 include the latest Nvidia MX450 discrete graphics. These pale in comparison to the RTX-level graphics found in more powerful 15-inch laptops like the Dell XPS 15 or ThinkPad X1 Extreme, but at least provide a small bump in graphical horsepower over integrated options.

The T-series all include models with either 1080p or 4K resolutions, as well as options like touchscreens, brighter displays (up to 500 nits), or one-watt panels for better battery life.

The AMD version of the T14s starts at $1,279, while the Intel version is $1,499. It’s a similar price discrepancy with the T14, which has the cheaper AMD model for $1,159 and the Intel version for $1,379. The T15 also starts at $1,379.

The company also announced a refresh for its budget-oriented ThinkPads, the L14 and L15. These now have the latest processor options and updated Nvidia MX450 graphics. The L14 and L15 both start at $689.

Lastly, Lenovo rolled out a small update to the P14s and P15s, its professional workstation level laptops. It also features the latest processors from AMD and Intel, the Nvidia T500 discrete graphics card, and two Thunderbolt 4 ports (on the Intel model). The P14s starts at $1,169 and the P15s starts at $1,389.

All versions of these new ThinkPads that feature AMD processors are due out in May, while the Intel models will ship in March.

Editors’ Choice




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