Don't settle for the built-in webcam on your PC. At best, it provides mediocre audio and video quality, which just won't do if you're trying to make a strong impression in a professional Skype call or as a serious online broadcaster. You'll get far more polish from Logitech’s HD Pro Webcam C920 provides, which offers 1080p resolution and stereo sound at a very affordable price (currently less than $50 on Amazon).
The C290 measures just over 3.5 inches at its widest. Its camera features a full HD glass lens and is flanked by two microphones to capture stereo sound. This head unit comes attached to a rubber-lined clip that fits snugly over laptop screens and external displays. If you want an angle other than the typical top-of-the-monitor shot, you can screw the C920 to a tripod using the built-in mount.
The C920 provides full HD 1080p video calling over Skype, and 720p for FaceTime, Google Hangouts, and other video call services. It also features Carl Zeiss optics and 20-step auto-focus for consistently high resolution.
One of the C920’s neatest tricks is its ability to record 1080p video clips using H.264 compression technology built right into the camera. By having the camera do the heavy lifting rather than your CPU, it guarantees sharp, smooth video—even on older computers.
The C920 requires minimal setup in Windows 8.1 or 10. Just plug in the attached USB cable, and the required Logitech camera app is downloaded automatically. (For use with Windows 7 or Vista, you'll need to manually download and install Logitech Webcam Software.) The app lets you zoom and pan the camera, capture video and photos (up to 15 MP), toggle between multiple webcams, and adjust your camera’s settings.
When using the C920, the “pro” in “pro webcam” becomes immediately apparent. Video quality is shockingly crisp, with clear details and vibrant colors. By comparison, the images from my Dell laptop’s webcam looked dull and grainy. Even the video recorded from the C920 was more impressive than my laptop cam’s live image. Audio was also clear and full and with minimal ambient noise.
I found the camera’s 78-degree field of view to be more than enough to accommodate up to two people in the frame, making it a great choice for small-group powwows. You’ll likely use the pan feature only to set up your initial framing. Similarly, the camera’s security mode—you can activate motion-detection so that it records video when it senses movement—might be a novel way to keep an eye on your desk when you’re away, but it’s no substitute for a true security camera and you probably won’t use the feature for much else.
For a consumer-grade webcam, the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 really impressed with stellar video and audio. It’s almost certainly an upgrade over your computer’s built-in camera, and I highly recommend it for situations where video-call quality counts.