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Microsoft Modern Webcam unveiled — and Logitech should be worried

Microsoft Modern Webcam
(Image credit: Microsoft)

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.

Microsoft Modern Webcam: Specs

Resolution: 1080p/30 fps
Pixel size: 1.4 um
Field of view: 78 degrees
Compatibility: Windows 8.1, Windows 10, macOS 10.15/11
Connectivity: USB-A
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.

Mike Prospero

Michael A. Prospero is the deputy editor at Tom’s Guide overseeing the smart home, drones, and fitness/wearables categories. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest sous vide machine or some other cooking gadget.

  • WarriorOmega
    Don't want to sound pessimistic, but how is this a great step? Here in the Netherlands the 920 is for sale since January 2012. I know Microsoft is relatively new in the hardware scene and don't want to take a too big chunk away from their customers (pc builders/manufacturers), but coming with a product which is par to a 9 year old product. If Logitech sees this as an actual contestant it will drop it price to the same or below at which both Logitech is again the better option. And fill up the gap between with another product they have laying on the shelf by now. Since Microsoft builds the OS and Windows Hello with that, they shown it off at nearly all their surface devices. Why not come with a decently price windows hello camera? Why go for the standards of 2012?

    Yes it's good that there is some serious competition in this market, since Logitech is not challenged to improve anymore. But the product on itself, a basic camera for 70 dollars, don't see anything great in that. I guess we have to see if I have to swallow my words once we see what it can actually do, or what else they are about to release...

    Edit: 2012 instead of 2021
    Reply
  • Space Cowboy
    "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. "
    I have the C920 and its a great camera. It also has auto white balancing and auto light adjustments. The only difference that's being called out is facial retouching. How self absorbed does a person need to be to have a camera touch up your face?!? This is NOT a game changer and Logitech has NOTHING to worry about as the author titled the article.

    I'm really getting tired of "authors" writing a headline just to draw people in to read a crap article!
    Reply
  • wiwolavida
    Space Cowboy said:
    "Those specs match up almost identically with the Logitech C920 and the Logitech C920s "

    That argument is invalid. Comparing the resolution or framerate is nonsense. The sensor is the part that defines the quality of a camera.
    E.g. the rpi hq camera and any other low budget camera (~40$) are 1080@30. The rpi hq camera sensor is far superior and thus delivers a much better image.

    If the microsoft cam has a better sensor and some other good features like autofocus, support for win/mac/linus it might be competitive
    Reply
  • WarriorOmega
    wiwolavida said:
    That argument is invalid.
    That argument is just as valid as the writers, since they both only talk about specs. We still have to wait for the reallife results. Untill then, it's written bigger as it is, simple clickbait title :)
    Reply