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How to choose a webcam for home working

Working from home? You'll need a good webcam!

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Bombarded by back-to-back Zoom meetings? Welcome to the WFH club! 30% of UK workers work remotely at least once a week (source: StandOut CV), so if you want to others to see and hear you clearly, you’ll need a computer webcam that’s as hardworking as you.

We’ve put together some top tips for buying a webcam for meetings for your Windows computer or Mac. And if you’re a newbie to home working, check out our handy guide to remote working to get right up to speed.

What is a webcam and why do I need one?

A webcam is just that – a camera for the web. It’ll let others see you virtually, so it’s ideal for long-distance catch ups, streaming a gaming sesh or working through a task with colleagues. They’re a must for any home office (and if your workspace needs a revamp, our home office accessory guide has you covered).

Most laptops come with a built-in webcam that does the job for quick calls. You won’t usually have to adjust any settings to use your device’s camera. Just head to your meeting link and say cheese!

Whilst built-in laptop cameras are fine in a pinch, they won’t always give you the best quality image – and desktops might just skip the camera altogether. That’s where external webcams swoop in. These little superheroes clip onto the top of your screen and boost your video quality to new levels. Tired of blurry, choppy video from your laptop? Enter: crystal-clear webcams. Woah.

What features should I look for when buying a webcam?

1. Resolution

HD, Full HD and 4K are different display resolutions. They differ by the number of pixels that are on the screen. More pixels = better picture quality. Easy.

  • HD: 1280 x 720 pixels (often called 720p)

  • Full HD: 1920 x 1080 pixels (often called 1080p)

  • 4K or Ultra HD: 3840 x 2160 pixels

To look your virtual best, aim for a HD or Full HD webcam. We’ve got a huge range of Full HD webcams that are perfect for important client meetings and make-or-break interviews.

Not on a strict budget? Go for a 4K webcam like the POLY Studio P15 Ultra HD Webcam if your device supports it. It’s super high resolution and packed full of features like automatic camera framing and Acoustic Clarity technology. It’s like you’re there in the room.

2. Frame rate

Next, look out for frame rate. What’s the point of a crystal-clear image if you’re moving at the pace of a stop-motion cartoon?

Frames per second (FPS) refers to the amount of image frames per second in your video. The higher the frame rate, the smoother the video. Most basic webcams cap Full HD at 30FPS, which isn’t bad - but high quality 1080p 60FPS webcams will make all the difference. Check those tech specs before you buy.

3. Microphone

Tired of repeating yourself in weekly team meetings? It’s time to up your mic game. Nobody wants to sound like a broken record, so if your laptop or desktop mic isn’t cutting it, look out for webcams with microphones or external webcam microphones. They’ll guarantee you’re heard loud and clear!

How much should I spend on a webcam?

That’s entirely up to you. Depending on what you’re going for, expect to spend anywhere from £20 - £400 on a high-quality webcam. Realistically though, the average user won’t need to break the bank for the perfect device. Phew.

Choose one of our best cheap webcams under £40 to sail through everyday meetings. Your colleagues will likely be watching at 1080p, so aim for a Full HD model to cover your bases. If you’ve got a little more to spend, a 4K model might futureproof your purchase – just make sure you’ll be using all those flashy features!

Still confused? Don’t worry. We’ve got webcams for every budget and home office setup, and we’re here to help if you need a hand.

How do I install a webcam on my computer?

In the past, webcam setup required a physical disk. Nowadays, it’s all online – so all you’ll have to do is plug your new webcam in. Hooray!

For Windows computers:

1. If your computer is running Windows 10 or later, it will automatically set up your webcam software when you plug it in. Nice.

2. Not running Windows 10 or later? Your computer should detect that you’re attempting to install camera software and guide you through the process. Just follow the on-screen instructions.

Still having issues? Get in touch with your computer manufacturer for more information.

For Macs:

1. Connect the camera to a port on your Mac using the provided cable. If the cable doesn’t use a USB-C or other Mac-compatible connector, you might need an adapter.

2. Wait 10 to 15 seconds for your Mac to recognise the webcam.

Mac webcam not working? Head over to Apple’s user guide for external webcams.

Need more help choosing the best webcam for working from home? If you’d like to talk to an expert, pop in-store or have a video chat using ShopLive.

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The best home working webcams