The new Opal Tadpole webcam is the perfect camera for your laptop — here’s why

Opal Tadpole webcam in hand
(Image credit: Opal Camera)

Even the best laptops struggle to provide a good webcam like you can have on a desktop, which is why Opal has created its new Tadpole webcam.

Founded by former Apple and Beats designers and backed by YouTubers like Casey Neistat and MKBHD, the Tadpole is actually Opal’s second webcam and is a followup to the Opal C1 which launched back in 2021. While the company’s first product was well reviewed and even considered to be one of the best webcams by many, its high initial price of $300 made it an expensive upgrade.

Now though, Opal is back with a brand new 4K webcam that it claims has the best image quality on the market at one-eight the size of the average webcam. The device itself features the same 48MP Sony IMX582 found in many of the best cheap phones and it also has f1.8 six-element glass.

At 1.2 inches squared and with a weight equivalent to two AA batteries, the Tadpole is the smallest webcam ever made according to Opal and besides Windows and Mac laptops, it also works on the best tablets

The Opal Tadpole's USB-C port working as a mute switch

(Image credit: Opal Camera)

The webcam also features a non-removable, braided USB-C cable with a neat trick. Instead of putting a mute switch at the top of the Tadpole, Opal has added one to the top of its USB-C plug. It has a capacitive touch sensor and you just need to give it a single tap to mute or unmute yourself during video calls. If this wasn’t cool enough, the Tadpole’s USB-C cable also attaches to the webcam magnetically to let it act like a lanyard when you’re not using it.

As cool as the Opal Tadpole is, it will likely be a hard upgrade to justify for many thanks to the fact that it’s quite expensive at $175. While still cheaper than the Opal C1, there are plenty of great webcams like the Anker PowerConf C200 that can be had for under $100. Likewise, the Logitech Brio is another 4K webcam that has a list price of $199 but frequently goes on sale for around $120.

You’ll need a thin monitor to use this webcam with your desktop

A rear shot of the Opal Tadpole attached to a laptop

(Image credit: Opal Camera)

Even though the Opal Tadpole is specifically designed with laptops and tablets in mind, you may be wondering if you can use it with one of the best computers or best gaming PCs. With a price tag that almost reaches $200, you’d expect to be able to use this webcam with both your laptop and desktop.

However, as 9To5Mac points out, the clip on the back of the Opal Tadpole is quite small and thin as it’s designed for laptops and tablets which have much thinner displays than most of the best monitors do. For use with a laptop, the webcam’s clip is great as you won’t have to lug around a camera mount too. The same can’t be said for desktop users like myself.

According to Opal’s website, the Tadpole’s clip can only open as far as a 35 degree angle. This will likely make it difficult to attach to a larger monitor and from what I’ve seen so far, it doesn’t appear that the company is currently selling or has plans to sell a mount for use with desktop monitors. This could change though or a third-party could make an aftermarket one.

The Opal Tadpole is certainly an interesting new device that shines a light on how laptop manufacturers need to step up their game when it comes to webcams. We’ll have to wait and see what reviews say but for those who travel a lot and always want to look their best in video calls, it could be worth the investment.

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Anthony Spadafora
Senior Editor Security and Networking

Anthony Spadafora is the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to password managers and the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. Before joining the team, he wrote for ITProPortal while living in Korea and later for TechRadar Pro after moving back to the US. Based in Houston, Texas, when he’s not writing Anthony can be found tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.