To understand just how far webcams have come since the stuttering, pixelated video streams of yore, look no further than the Logitech Brio 4K Pro. With support for 4K recording, high dynamic range, and 5X zoom, it offers a level of video quality that surpasses the needs of most users.
But while casual Skype callers might not dramatically benefit from pixel-popping resolution or more accurate colors, streamers, vloggers, and tech enthusiasts certainly can. In fact, the Brio 4K Pro makes a costly DIY setup far less necessary to produce higher-quality video.
Compact and feature-packed
The Brio stuffs all of its power in a pretty slim package. It’s just four inches wide and one inch high and deep. Thanks in part to its metallic-gray aluminum casing, the camera is a lightweight two ounces.
The Brio’s layout is simple. The lens sits dead center, flanked on either end by dual omni-directional, noise-cancelling mics. The whole unit is mounted to a rubber-coated flexible stand that can clip onto the bezel of any laptop or flat-screen monitor. After a few contortions, it had a firm grip on the plastic lid of an Acer notebook, and then the aluminum one of a Macbook Air.
You’re not limited to affixing the Brio to your computer, though. A square plastic piece on the bottom of the stand folds out, allowing the camera to stand freely on any flat surface. The stand can also be removed to place the camera on a tripod—the screw hole used to attach the stand doubles as a tripod mount.
A 4.9-inch cable—USB-C at the camera end, USB-A on the other—is supplied with the camera, but the short distance from your laptop’s USB port to its monitor means you’ll have a tangle of slack to deal with. Fortunately, because it’s detachable, you can replace it with a shorter compatible cord if you want.
Two accessories are included with the Brio. The more essential in these paranoid times is a plastic privacy shutter that clips over the top of the camera unit. A small hinged flap can be lowered over the lens when you’re not using it. The other is a microfiber drawstring bag that provides an easy way to transport the Brio, though not a lot of protection.
Setup and usage
Once connected, the Brio is ready for video chatting, grabbing still shots, and capturing video. The out-of-the box settings produced arguably the best images we’ve seen in a webcam. Details are sharp, and colors look rich and accurate in both artificial and natural light environments.
This level of quality is a product of Logitech’s RightLight 3 with HDR technology, which makes the camera adapt to just about any lighting situation and offers improved performance in dark and light conditions. The webcam’s output is similar to that of HDR smartphone photographs: Colors look more vibrant, and images hold up better in extreme lighting. The 90-degree wide-angle lens also takes in plenty of background, reducing the need to fuss with the camera position manually.
To get the most out the Brio, however, you need to download the Logitech Camera Settings app from the company’s website. The app provides basic camera controls such as pan and zoom, as well as the ability to calibrate brightness, contrast, color intensity, and white balance. It also lets you toggle between standard and widescreen displays, or change the field of view from 90 degrees to 78 or 65 degrees—handy when you want to focus the camera more on your mug and less on the messiness of your home office.
Another way to blot out unwanted backgrounds is with the Background Replacement feature. Enabled through a separate download, it provides several customized ways to conceal what’s behind you.
The Brio supports a range of resolutions and frame rates, including 4K Ultra HD at 30 fps, 1080p (Full HD) at 30 or 60 fps, and 720p (HD) at 30 or 60 fps. This is important, because without a monitor and apps that support 4K, you won’t won’t be able to appreciate the Brio’s images in all their ultra high-def splendor. Rather you and anyone you’re video chatting with will be seeing you in the more common 1080p or 720p resolution.
This is a significant caveat. Currently, the popular video chatting apps, including Google Hangouts and Skype for Business, don’t support 4K. For recording in Ultra HD, the Windows 10 Camera app was the most readily available app we could find. YouTube recently announced it was enabling live 4K streaming, but it has the luxury of Google-backed bandwidth. For the foreseeable future, you likely won’t be able to take much advantage of the Brio’s Ultra HD capabilities, though you can certainly enjoy its other features like HDR and—if your computer supports biometric sign-in like Windows Hello—facial recognition.
There’s no question Logitech Brio 4K Pro Webcam offers unparalleled picture and video quality. The issue is that Ultra HD has yet to make the kind of dent in the computer market that it has in home entertainment. As far as PCs are concerned, 1080p is still the standard. If all you want is an excellent high-resolution webcam, you’d arguably be much better off picking up Logitech’s C922 for half the price of the Brio.
Still, if you’re a forward-thinking type and can spend a bit more on this kind of peripheral, you’ll have few complaints about the Brio 4K Pro and its ability to capture your facial expressions in ultra-sharp detail.
Logitech Brio 4K Ultra HD WebcamPCWorld Rating
The Logitech Brio 4K Pro Webcam delivers impressive video with cutting-edge features. It's not for everybody, but it's recommended if you're in any situation where video quality counts.
- Sharply detailed resolution with vibrant colors
- Wide-angle field of view
- Infrared-based facial recognition
- 4K-ready apps and services are still scarce