Your home office is a workspace, a meeting room, and a conference centre all at the same time. You need a suitable webcam to make sure that your visual presentation is professional. Here’s some advice on how to select the right webcam for your home office.
Start with a look at your home office space
You should start your quest for a new home office webcam by looking at your workspace. Stand in the locations you’re considering for the webcam and look at the desk, chair and area surrounding them. Make a note of what the light level is and how it might change. You can always rearrange the office to improve the video layout later, of course. But having a basic idea of the look you’re trying to achieve will help direct your webcam purchase.
I hope your benevolent employer is footing the bill for your new webcam. But, if you’re self-employed or just not that lucky, price is a consideration. You need to determine the lifespan of the webcam. Will you need one for the foreseeable future, or will you abandon video meetings as soon as you possibly can? A short-term solution will be both more affordable and of lower quality. And that means fewer features.
You may need to have more distance between your computer and your webcam than a cord allows. If this is the case, a wireless webcam may be right for you. You can place them anywhere within range and set your shot up as you would like. There are the usual interference risks you find with any wireless device, though the risks are pretty low these days. And, most wireless cameras compress the video signal in response to the limited bandwidth, so high definition may be a challenge.
You will know that you’ve become a competent video streamer when you realize how dark and badly lit your desk area is. A webcam with a built-in lighting solution is an easy way to make sure that whatever the camera points at is well lit. You will have to practice not staring directly into the light, or you can wear some sunglasses for that cool look. On second thought, your boss probably won’t enjoy your new shades.
In the grand scheme of things this is a minor factor to consider. But, if your space is limited and you don’t want it dominated by any one peripheral, a small webcam would be the best choice. A small webcam will have the standard features, though you may miss out on some premium features. There’s only so much room inside a tiny camera for additional components. Another benefit to a small webcam is that you can easily tuck it into your laptop bag and bring it with you.
It’s easy to assume every webcam will be a simple plug and play device. But there is software that you’ll need to install to get the full features of a high quality webcam. And if your computer is unable to run that software, your webcam won’t be able to fully function. If you’re using a chromebook or a tablet with a keyboard as your main device, your options are more limited. So check the webcams system requirements and make sure that your device can handle it.
I have fully adopted the headphones with built in microphone video conference lifestyle, and it works well for me. But I can appreciate that some folks do not want to spend hours at a time with earphones on. It also looks just a little bit less professional. So if you are lucky enough to have a quiet office space where unexpected sound won’t interfere, a webcam with it’s own built-in microphone would work. A good webcam will have a pair of omni-directional microphones to pick up the sound in stereo.
Your webcam will have a FPS number, which is the number of frames per second. What does that mean? Well, your video is actually composed of a fast succession of static images that when played one after another give the illusion of movement. The higher the number of static images (frames) then the higher the quality. The standard webcams will have 30 FPS, and that will give you a good video image. Or, if you’re producing video content as a part of your job, a higher rate like 60FPS or higher may be in order. Be aware that high FPS plus high resolution will add up to very large file sizes.
This is the measure of the image quality. You may be familiar with the terms from buying a television or monitor: standard high definition (720p), Full high definition (1080p), and ultra high definition (4K). Live video calls like Zoom or FaceTime use 720p, so if that’s the majority of your video work needs, there’s no point in getting a more expensive, higher definition camera. On the other hand, if you are recording professional video content, a 4K webcam will give you the best image quality.
Field of view
Do you love the look of your office? How much of it do you want to share with the viewers on the other end of the meeting? The field of view is the area that will be seen by the webcam. A wide field of view will show more of the room behind you. And that means you need to consider more light sources and visual distractions within that view. A narrow field of view means you have less room to move and adjust during a meeting without accidentally moving out of the shot.
Do you fidget? I certainly do. I thought I was a still and attentive video conference participant, until I caught sight of myself. My poor old laptop webcam could not keep me in focus, with all the bobbing and weaving I did as I talked. Rather than change my habits, I upgraded to a webcam with good auto-focus. If you’re like me, you need a webcam that will compensate for your erratic movement patterns.
How to select the right webcam for your home office
Your choice will be easy to make if you’ve taken a moment to determine your requirements before making the purchase. Know your space, know your video needs, and know your budget. So the real secret to learning how to select the right webcam for your home office is preparation! And if you’re sharing the space with a student (or you’re one yourself), check out this post for some helpful advice: “Set yourself up for success with the ultimate remote learning tech”
We’re all concerned about safety while shopping for the things we need to make our home offices successful. So is Best Buy Canada. They are continually updating and upgrading their services to make them as safe and helpful as possible. Whether it’s in-store or online shopping, you can shop with confidence.