Webcams Buying Guide
Webcams, once a fancy accessory to computers and laptops, but in the present times, an omnipresent necessity that needs to be there if you want your computer/notebook to be in sync with the times. Useful for professional as well as personal reasons alike, they are used to send videos and still pictures online. On a very basic level, they are minute digital cameras that have the capability of recording video.
Using an internet connection and a webcam, one can interact with anybody around the world. They are most frequently used in conjunction with messenger softwares, provided by leading mail service providers. Besides chatting visually with a videoconferencing recipient, one can also send across videos and photos, with many softwares also allowing one to update websites using the same.
There are basically two types of broadcasts; streaming, where images are downloaded in video format as they happen, alike a sports event, and non-streaming, or Java, wherein they are transmitted at regular time intervals.
Among the many uses of webcams, it’s very difficult to actually choose the one that is the most popular one, as well as the most important one. They are used personally, for keeping in touch with family and friends, professionally, for presentations and discussing business deals (usually in the form of an integrated webcam with laptop so that one can take it anywhere during travel and connect instantly), for security purposes, weather watching, virtual tours of famous places, and similar activities.
Hence, before one decides to buy a particular type of webcam, it’s most important to consider what purpose is it going to be used for, as this is the primary criteria on which you will decide which type of webcam you want to buy.
Secondly, the viewers of the content must also be kept in mind. Do you want a very high-quality video or would a reasonably good one also do? These depend on the software you will use and the speed of your internet, with the latter being a major factor in deciding the quality part, since you have to have a fast connection to broadcast high quality images or videos.
Types of cameras
The type of camera depends on its purpose. In case one wants to reach out to a large audience, a camcorder or a webcam with a good megapixel resolution is needed. Similarly, plain old home video streaming, where quality is not much of a concern, will not call for such a specialized camera. Outdoor videos might need special UV protection and similar provision to avoid glare. Let’s take a look at some standard camera types.
These are the simplest of webcams that can be connected to a PC or notebook using a USB connection. They are also usually the cheapest of the lot, since their quality is not very good as compared to the other options. They are very easy to install and use, but come with lower frames per second and resolution. Hence, they can be used at best for home recording and video conferencing with family and friends.
Using these kind of cameras is best where you need precision and high quality of images, and they are also more expensive than the former type. Installing them, however, requires a video capture card that needs to be added to the PC. But the plus point is that once they are installed, one can use multiple types of cameras, like spy cams as well as broadcast ones. Options can be included in terms of different lenses, robotic controls for getting a better angle and shot, as well as filters to screen out the effect of sunlight as well as dark or low light conditions.
Notebook webcams, also known as Integrated webcams with Laptop, are an apt combination of a camera and the required optical equipment that serves as a link with the video server, an integrated camera’s main advantage is that it requires no additional software. It can best be used as a stand-alone device for monitoring purposes, perhaps in an office or a public area.
Network Megapixel cameras
These are a fantastic amalgamation of excellent digital camera quality and network capability. While on one hand they give excellent video quality, they also create files of relatively larger sizes compared to other types of cameras. This is precisely why they can’t be used for live streaming, and can at best be used for the Java format, where their high quality is utilized to the optimum levels.
After all is said and done, you might be having the perfect webcam suiting your purpose, but there is another thing you need to make full use of it; a fast and stable internet connection. A decent level of broadband is definitely a prerequisite if you are to broadcast good quality images or video. The simple rule in this regard is, the faster your connection, the better are your chances of stability in good quality. This is simply because you will get a better refresh rate with increasing bandwidth.
Further, applications of a webcam work best with wireless solutions, so you must ensure that the camera you purchase should be compatible with a wireless LAN or similar connection.
Points to consider
Variable points pertaining to webcams include the number of frames per second and the resolution of the broadcasted image.
Frames per second is basically the number of times an image will flash every second to lend an effect of moving pictures. A webcam having around 30 fps will show regular imagery. However, as one goes to webcams giving higher fps, more memory, processing speed and internet bandwidth is needed.
Resolution is measured in terms of the number of pixels in one inch of the image. The higher the resolution, the better the quality of an image. The standard for the internet is a resolution of 72 dpi, and a higher resolution is not going to be any better in quality, but just take longer to download and upload.
One might also consider going for more advanced versions, like a laptop webcam with microphone which neutralizes the need of a separate microphone for communication purposes.
Most importantly, it is essential to consider all aspects, from the speed of the internet to the purpose for which you are to use the webcam, before buying it. And with there being so many options present, finding the right one is not a hard deal by any means.