Whether you are connecting with friends and family or working from home at an age ofMost of our social and professional interactions take place online. is the platform you choose for CNET meetings, and my kids and their buddies are sucking up our bandwidth on FaceTime, Instagram and Google Hangouts. No matter what platform you use, has become the new normal, and it’s time to upgrade your video calling game.
Part of this means1; select the right environment, optimize the lighting conditions and position the camera lens correctly. The second part is having the right gear, including the best webcam, microphone and more. In most cases, I’m sorry to say, your laptop ̵ and microphone stink – and they prevent you from encountering video conferencing as professionally as possible.
However, upgrading your audio and video library is relatively easy from a technical perspective and relatively affordable – and it will dramatically improve your production values in virtual meetings. We have compiled a shortlist of our favorite cameras, microphones and other switches that will enhance your video chat with input from CNET’s video team on camera, all of which also work from home. Our favorite plugs for the best webcam and external microphone options are below.
(Please note that prices are correct at the time of original publication, but may vary – especially given the strong demand for this type of gear. Availability and delivery times are also constantly changing, so be sure to check before proceeding with any purchase .)
After the masses started working from home in mid-March, Logitech’s affordable Logitech C920 full HD external webcam stopped everywhere. But you can sometimes find it on Amazon for about $ 150. And if you can not get hold of the C920, I recommend that you look for Logitech’s excellent StreamCam – another good webcam that often sells fast.
Meanwhile, if you do not have the best webcam, you can use a tripod and your phone’s HD camera to increase the quality of video chat when streaming live. How to use.
Nothing can torpedo an online meeting faster than background noise and noise cutting in and out, and your laptop’s built-in microphone can be the culprit. Once you’ve added a decent webcam to your installation, you’ll be in better shape – but a standalone microphone will make you sound clear, rich and full. This Blue Yeti model has long been a staple of podcasters and streamers, and it’s what I use when I record audio or participate in a high-stakes video chat.
Yes, it looks like something you would see on a radio station from the 1940s, but the sound technology is 100% modern. It has three capsule microphones, four pickup patterns (for different types of recording) and just enough controls to optimize how you sound without overloading yourself with super-technical features.
If you are sitting in front of a white wall or detected windows, your webcam will try to balance it and envelop you in a silhouette. The solution: Place a light behind your webcam that shines on your face. With many cheaper video lights now out, we are looking at more premium lighting like the Joby Beamo Mini. It’s on the more expensive side, but it’s extremely compact, waterproof and – capable of blasting 1,000 lumens – incredibly bright, although the iOS app and included diffuser make it easy to dial in the perfect amount of light. It has a magnetic back that sticks to all metal surfaces and will also be screwed to a stand.
GripTight / Amazon
It’s hard to multitask at a web conference: Open and close apps, resize browsers and windows, all while talking to your boss in your Google hangout or Zoom video conference call – anything can be a bit much. One solution is to download all your audio and video data to your phone – which can have better camera, video quality and microphone technology, anyway – to free up your laptop to take notes, consult documents and spreadsheets or whatever. (Here’s how to do it.)
If you take this route, you will have an adjustable stand that can securely hold the phone firmly – and at a flattering angle. I like this tripod package from Joby, which contains a clip that is large enough to hold my iPhone XS Max. And I also like the company’s flexible Gorilla pods, which can be wrapped around poles or other surfaces without flat.
Sarah Tew / CNET
If you have an older MacBook Air or Windows laptop that came out several years ago, you will find that a single Zoom session can send your computer fans spinning and reduce your multitasking options to zero. Getting a newer laptop with an updated processor and webcam software – a ninth or tenth gen Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 should do the trick – will make these video conferencing sessions much easier to carry.
I recently plugged in my aging MacBook Air and picked up a Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga and have been amazed at everything I was missing: blazing speed (courtesy of the modern Intel processor), USB-C ports and a touch screen monitor. It currently starts at $ 1,440. For other recommendations, check out our list of the best laptops for 2020.
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