Even before the pandemic, Logitech's portfolio of webcams dominated, led by the Logitech C920, which was harder to find than an N95 mask.
Microsoft has a new challenger in the Microsoft Modern Webcam, which boasts a 1080p resolution, an integrated privacy shutter, and will cost just $69.99. Here's everything you need to know about the Microsoft Modern Webcam, shipping this June. Will it make our list of the best webcams? Only time will tell.
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Resolution: 1080p/30 fps
Pixel size: 1.4 um
Field of view: 78 degrees
Compatibility: Windows 8.1, Windows 10, macOS 10.15/11
Size: 2.9 x 2 x 1.4 inches
Weight: 3.4 ounces
Microsoft Modern Webcam: Price and availability
The Microsoft Modern Webcam costs $69.99 and go on sale this June.
Microsoft currently has a handful of other webcams, all of which have a max resolution of 720p: The LifeCam HD-3000 ($39.99), the LifeCam Cinema ($69.99), and the LifeCam Studio ($99.99).
Microsoft Modern Webcam: Resolution
The Modern Webcam has a 1080p sensor with a pixel size of 1.4-nanometers; the comparatively larger pixel size means that the camera should perform better in lower-light conditions.
The camera can record at up to 60 fps, but will only be able to transmit at a max of 30 fps. It also has a 78-degree field of view, and HDR to better account for varied lighting conditions. An integrated privacy shutter lets you block the camera's view, though it doesn't also turn off the microphone.
Those specs match up almost identically with the Logitech C920 and the Logitech C920s, though it looks like Microsoft's webcam has just one microphone, to the C920's two.
Microsoft Modern Webcam: Special features
Other features in the Modern Webcam include auto white balance (to account for overhead lighting), auto light adjustment, and facial retouch. Another feature called True Look presumably incorporates all three of these, so you can look your best on those endless Zoom meetings.
The Modern Webcam will be compatible with both Windows and MacOS, though it appears that some software functions will only work with PCs.
As Microsoft looks to give it the broadest appeal, the Modern Webcam has a USB-A connector, rather than USB-C; while this means that you'll need a USB-C hub with newer laptops, those with older PCs shouldn't have any trouble.
It's also certified for Microsoft Teams, and comes with a 1-year hardware warranty and a 30-day return window.
Microsoft Modern Webcam outlook
Of course, it's far too early to comment on the Modern Webcam's quality, but it's about time that Microsoft had a webcam capable of streaming at 1080p. The specs for the Modern Webcam are only on a par with Logitech's most popular model, but maybe that's all that's needed.
We'd like to see a higher-performance model with a 4K resolution or a built-in ring light, but for now, it's good to see Microsoft catching up to the competition.