Webcams vs. Laptop Cameras: The real difference


One unexpected effect of the 2020 pandemic has been a sudden increase in video conferencing, which has become an essential part of daily life for millions of business users. The benefits people discovered while working remotely and sheltering in place will motivate them to continue meeting by video after they return to the office – provided it’s easily available and the experience remains a positive one.

There’s the catch. The quality of the video technology makes all the difference. If the experience of using video for meetings is poor and people are not required to use it, they will be hesitant to do so. If the experience is satisfactory, more people will embrace it.

But if the experience is great – the video and sound are clear, people are easy to see, the meeting feels like being there in person – well, that’s the key to enterprise-wide adoption. And this is why a webcam makes such a big difference.

Limitations with Embedded Cameras

Unfortunately, many people working remotely have had to make do with substandard performance and capabilities from the video cameras embedded in their laptops or phones. With embedded cameras, the quality is highly variable. Sometimes it’s fine. Often it’s terrible.

The limitations of embedded cameras undermine the benefits of video collaboration. Problems arise from poor lighting, bad angle, poor resolution or clarity. If the camera isn’t positioned just right, or the user is in a dark room, or there’s a bright window behind them or a strong light on one side, it can be difficult for other people to see that person clearly. Embedded cameras do a poor job of compensating for these conditions.

Another big limitation with embedded cameras in laptops is that they may not always be operational (or usable). For example, in an office environment business users will often dock their laptop or plug it into a larger monitor and keyboard. If the laptop is closed in these situations, the embedded camera is not available. 

Even if the laptop is open while it’s connected to a large-screen monitor, the laptop’s camera may face the user from an odd angle, while the user is turned toward the monitor. That can feel awkward for other people in the meeting.

How to Deliver a Superior Meeting Experience with a Purpose-Built Webcam

While the experience of using embedded cameras is variable – sometimes good, often terrible – the experience with webcams is generally outstanding and highly predictable. This is because webcams are purpose-built for the job.

A high-quality webcam will include a number of features that enhance the image. One of the most important is the ability to compensate for poor lighting – helpful when the speaker is in the shadows or the lighting is simply too dark. Logitech Brio for instance uses RightLight™ 3 and high dynamic range (HDR) technology to highlight the subject (rather than the background), so the speaker is always clearly visible.

The ability to change field of vision (FOV) and position the camera in a more favorable angle is another valuable feature. It allows users to crop out distracting backgrounds, perfectly frame themselves, or capture the entire scene if needed.

Another consideration: integrations and certifications. Webcams that are certified for video conferencing software like Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom help ensure problem-free meetings. For instance, certifying the Brio webcam for Windows Hello™ makes video conferencing both easier to start and more secure. Meeting participants simply look into the camera to log in. Certifications like these are enormously beneficial to IT as they empower end users and reduce calls to the helpdesk.

And finally, webcams allow people to look their very best. And that’s important because users who are confident about how they look are far more likely to use the video technology that IT has invested in.

The Benefits of a Consistent and Familiar Experience for IT and Employees

Providing a consistent toolset for employees, including video conferencing technology, addresses one of IT’s priorities: reducing support calls. This is one reason companies invest in enterprise solutions. The variability in experience and quality of embedded cameras not only leads to more user complaints, more calls, and more helpdesk tickets, it also increases the time IT personnel spend troubleshooting.

By contrast, deploying the same webcam to everyone makes it easier and faster for IT to troubleshoot if problems do arise. A consistent and familiar experience also allows employees to start meetings faster as they move between desktop and conference room, with less time spent sorting out the technology.

The benefits of video conferencing for employee productivity and social connection have been well documented. With purpose-built webcams, IT can provide those benefits while avoiding the limitations of embedded cameras.

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