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The best tool for online courses or meetings: webcams, lights, microphones, tripods and more

Era of coronavirus has taken so many of our social and professional interactions online. Zoom is the chosen platform for our meetings on CNET, and my kids and their friends spend countless hours on Instagram, FaceTime and Google Hangouts. No matter what platform you use, video chat has become central in our lives, so it’s a good time to play your video calling game.

Part of this means learn the basics of a video conferencing session on camera ̵

1; choose the right environment, position the camera lens correctly and optimize the lighting conditions. A professional Twitch streamer has called in completely, but even a beginner can pick it up without much hassle. It is also important to have the right equipment, including the best webcam and microphone. Unfortunately, in most cases, your laptop built-in camera and microphone stinks – and they prevent you from encountering video conferencing as professionally as possible. Investing in a standalone webcam and stereo microphone makes a world of difference. Even a cheap webcam with autofocus and a decent microphone can help take things to the next level when you’re at a video conference.

Upgrading your audio and video technology, however, is quite simple 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 equipment that will enhance your video chat input from CNET’s video team, all working from home now as well. Our favorite choices for best webcam and external microphone options are below, and we update this regularly. We can guarantee that you will be able to increase your video conferencing game significantly.

(Please note that prices are correct at the time of original publication, but may vary – especially given the growing demand for this type of gear. In addition, availability and delivery time are constantly changing, so be sure to check before proceeding with any purchase.)

Read more: Best wireless earbuds and Bluetooth headphones for phone calls


After the masses started working from home in mid-March, Logitech’s affordable external webcam Logitech C920 full HD was sold out everywhere. But you can sometimes find this full HD webcam online for $ 80 to $ 120. Note that the C920s is the same model with a retractable privacy slot; The C922 offers lower 720p resolution but higher image level (60fps).

And if you can not get hold of the C920 Logitech webcam, I recommend that you look for Logitech’s excellent StreamCam, another full HD streaming webcam perfect for recording YouTube videos, video streaming or fast-selling video conferencing.

Meanwhile, if you do not have the best webcam, you can use a tripod and your phone’s HD camera to increase video chat quality during live streaming. How to use.

Blue microphones

Nothing can torpedo an online meeting faster than background noise and intermittent noise, and your laptop’s miserable built-in microphone can be the culprit. Once you’ve added a decent webcam to your installation, you’ll get in better shape – but a standalone microphone will make you sound clear, rich and full. This Blue Yeti model has long been a staple for 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 in a radio station in 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 nasty windows, your webcam will try to balance it and envelop you in a silhouette. The solution: Place a light behind your webcam that glows in your face. With many cheaper video lamps now sold out, we are looking at more premium lamps such as the Joby Beamo Mini. It’s on the more expensive side, but it’s extremely compact, waterproof and can emit 1000 lumens of incredible light, although the iOS app and included diffuser make it easy to circle the perfect amount of light. It has a magnetic back that will hold on to any metal surface and be screwed into 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 conversation – anything can be a little. One solution is to download all your audio and video recording data to your phone – which can have better camera, video quality and microphone technology, however – free up your laptop to take notes, consult documents and spreadsheets or whatever. (Here’s how to do it.)

If you take this path, you want an adjustable stand that can securely hold your phone steady – and at a flattering angle. I like this tripod package from Joby, which includes a clip that is large enough to hold my iPhone XS Max. And I also like the company’s curved Gorilla pods, which can be wrapped around poles or other non-planar surfaces.

Sarah Tew / CNET

If you’re running an older MacBook Air or Windows laptop that came out several years ago, you’ll find that a single Zoom session can send your computer fans around and reduce your multitasking options to zero. Getting a newer laptop with an updated processor and webcam software – a ninth or tenth generation Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 should do the trick – will make these video conferencing sessions much easier to carry.

I recently put my aging MacBook Air aside 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 display. It currently starts at $ 1,440. For other recommendations, check out our list of the best laptops for 2020.

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