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Monoprice has a well-deserved reputation for no-nonsense budget hardware and components, but the Monoprice 2K USB Webcam may be an exception: a budget webcam that’s a little too cheaply made to be worth your time. The price, though, is tough to beat.
Full disclosure: While we tested this webcam thoroughly, we can’t show you any representative pictures that it captured. Why not? After toting it around to test its performance in various lighting conditions, and putting it back on top of an external display, it fell off, landing on the desk—and stopped working.
(Though Monoprice and Amazon use the “2K USB Webcam” as a product name, the device is formally named the Workstream by Monoprice 2K USB Webcam with LED Light Ring and Lens Cover.)
On paper, this Monoprice webcam seems pretty solid: The 2592×1944 resolution offers more detail than now-standard 1080p webcams, albeit at 30Hz. Though neither Monoprice nor Amazon advertises it as such, this webcam autofocuses on your face, and is suitably responsive when you lean forward or back. One additional feature is that it has a ring light, with three levels of lighting that can be adjusted via a front-mounted button.
Further reading: See our roundup of the best webcams to learn about competing products.
The Monoprice 2K USB Webcam’s frame has minimal amounts of padding to cushion your monitor, with the standard overhanging “jaw” that allows it to clip over the top of a monitor or laptop display. That sometimes can give users pause, though the webcam seems light enough that it won’t push into your display. If that does worry you, however, the “jaws” fold flat, creating a flat stand, and there’s a screw hole to attach a tripod (not included). There’s an extremely stiff gimbal that allows the webcam to tilt forward and rotate side to side, though it allows just a few degrees of movement. A USB-A cable measuring about 52 inches connects it all together.
Mark Hachman / IDG
Our external display has a thicker bezel than most, but was nonetheless accommodated by the 2K USB Webcam’s design. The lack of padding or grip made it easy to slide back and forth, which can be a positive. But as it turned out, the weight of the cord and some possible user-carelessness caused it to plunge to its doom.
The real, puzzling issue with this webcam is that it’s designed with a ring light to allow you to be well lit in Zoom and Teams calls. However, the camera, by apparent design, can overexpose your face under certain lighting scenarios. Monoprice’s 2K Webcam works best when clipped over the top of a laptop screen, or as a standalone camera. There, your face will look natural, with good lighting and color balance. The additional resolution will help your face look great, too. You’ll notice the same results in a dimly lit room—again, with the webcam clipped over a laptop.
(Some users complained that the camera zooms in too much. First, we’d disagree. But there aren’t any zoom controls, manual or otherwise, to adjust this. Most budget webcams don’t have this option either.)
Mark Hachman / IDG
Clipping the webcam over an external display, though, introduces problems. For whatever reason, Monoprice’s webcam simply can’t account for the light generated by the display, especially in light mode. The result is that the Monoprice webcam will probably overexpose your face, making you look pale and ghostly. Adding the ring light on top of it just makes the problem worse.
There are two other quirks that this webcam offers, neither a positive. For one, Monoprice doesn’t offer a built-in privacy shutter. Instead, Monoprice includes a little flipcover plastic shutter inside the 2K USB Webcam’s box, that you must stick on. Yes, you must peel off a bit of sticky backing and affix it yourself—don’t mess it up! Secondly, the webcam’s mics are lousy. They’re functional, but you may want to switch the audio within Zoom or Teams to a laptop or external mic of some sort.
Honestly, the price of the Monoprice 2K USB Webcam makes it hard to not recommend: again, on paper, there’s a lot going for it. In practice, however, you might want to consider one of our recommended webcams instead.