Following the pandemic of Covid-19 all businesses and individuals are operating with the use of Video Conferencing using popular Software such as Skype, Whatsapp, Viber, Facebook Messenger Zoom and more. The use of such software is easy on mobile phones but when it comes to business and business conference rooms things are a bit more tricky than that. We will take a look into the Best Video Conference Camera Options for 2020 with no special order.
1. Logitech Connect
- Beautiful cylindrical design with tucked-in remote control.
- Portable; can run on battery power.
- No mechanical panning.
- Digital zoom only.
- Small and Huddle rooms only
First in our lsit of Best Video Conference Camera is almost certainly one of the best looking and flexible conference camera we’ve ever seen. Its cylindrical body comes in either silver or red, with a snap-in compartment for the remote. Its tidy design makes it portable, and it can run on battery power, making it a good choice for business users on the go.
Starting Up and Conferencing
There’s hardly anything to connect when setting up the ConferenceCam . It’s just a single unit, along with a remote control that snaps into the camera tower, a USB connector, and a power adapter in the box. The camera itself measures 11.98 by 2.95 by 2.95 inches (HWD) and weighs 1.7 pounds, making it easy to pack in your luggage. Part of the ConferenceCam’s super-slick design is the remote, which magnetically lodges into the main device tube. At first I dropped the remote trying to pry it out of the main unit, but then I found that a push to the side got it sliding comfortably into my palm.
To get started, plug the ConferenceCam in for an initial charging, after which it can run on battery power for up to three hours. Once fully charged, hold down the power button to turn it on, then press a mode button on the tip of the cylinder. Your choices include Bluetooth, wireless screen mirroring, and video conferencing through USB. To use video conferencing mode, you need to connect the tower to your PC’s USB port (the unit supports Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, and Mac OS X 10.7 or later). When I plugged it into a laptop running Windows 10, the driver was found and installed automatically. I was then able to use the device in a Skype conference call by selecting ConferenceCam in the program’s audio and video setup menus.
2. Logitech Meetup
- Wide viewing angle.
- Excellent audio in mics and speakers.
- 4K resolution.
- Zoom, pan, and tilt using remote control.
- Digital zoom means fully enlarged images are fuzzy.
- No included control software.
- Lacks on-device controls.
The Mettup is second in our list of Best Video Conference Camera fo 2020. With the rise of the ill-conceived open office plan, many workplace meetings don’t take place in traditional conference rooms with long tables and large monitors. Smaller “huddle rooms” are the venues for many meetings and Logitech’s MeetUp is designed for these spaces, with a wider-than-usual-angle 4K camera and speaker and mics suited to smaller rooms.
The MeetUp is an attractive, modern, professional-looking camera with a black, rounded case that can complement any décor. The 4.1-by-15.75-by-3.35-inch (HWD) MeetUp houses a 4K (up to 3,840 by 2,160 pixels at 30fps) camera with a 120-degree field of view that features pan-tilt-zoom functionality. There are three beam-forming microphones with a sensitivity of -27dB and frequency response of 90Hz to 16kHz. The speaker is acoustically suspended and has the following specifications:
- Volume adjustable to 95 dB SPL at 1/2 meter peak
- Speaker sensitivity of 86.5+/-3dB SPL at 1/2 meter
- Distortion: 200 Hz–300Hz < 3%, 3000 Hz–10KHz < 1%
- Peak-limiting algorithm prevents even momentary speaker clipping without distortion
- Acoustic echo cancellation
- VAD (Voice activity detector)
- Microphone background noise suppression
- Pro-audio 32 kHz sampling rate
The remote uses RF, so you don’t have to worry about aiming it at a receiver on the main unit or about something or someone blocking it; another thoughtful touch for use in cramped spaces. One potential issue, though: There are no on-device controls, so if you do lose the remote, forget panning or zooming. You can overcome that problem if you use the Logitech ConferenceCam Soft Remote app, which duplicates all of the hard remote’s functions.
You also get a 16-foot USB cable, power supply, wall mount hardware, and user documentation. The system is certified for use with Skype for Business and Cisco Jabber and offers enhanced integration with BlueJeans, Broadsoft, LifeSize Cloud, Vidyo, and Zoom. That support includes the ability for remote participants to control the camera.
Setting Up the MeetUp
You start by plugging the MeetUp into a power outlet, but before you can do that, you have to insert one of the many international AC plugs that suits your locale. When you do plug it in, it responds with a cute plunky musical sound.
You next connect the USB cable to the computer. The device uses USB-C, so it’s not proprietary, and you won’t have trouble getting a replacement if you misplace it. A nice Velcro belt holds the unused portion of the 16-foot cable in place. One thing to note about the cable, however, is that it’s not USB 3.0, so it won’t support the camera’s full 4K resolution. That capability is more about future-proofing, however, since most videoconferencing services don’t support 4K yet.
After connecting the PC to a display or a television, the only thing to do is to set up your videoconferencing software to work with the video and audio of the MeetUp. The camera was tested with Skype, and had no issues. At the time of testing, Logitech didn’t provide software for the MeetUp the way it does for its Brio 4K webcam, which is unfortunate if you want to adjust settings like focus, contrast, or brightness. The company says an app similar to the Brio software will be available in the future.
The included remote control should be paired at the factory, but if not you can pair it manually. Note that it won’t work without inserting the included batteries. You may also want to pair a Bluetooth phone if you use that for calls.
A final option is to mount the unit on your wall or attach it to a TV. A wall mount is included, but a TV mount is an extra-cost option for $79. Note that, unlike the Logitech Connect, the unit is intended to stay in one place. The easy-to-carry ConferenceCam Connect is better suited for those who need to frequently change meeting locations.
Using the MeetUp
The view angle is very wide, which, in testing, let our remote viewers see everyone in the room, something the Logitech ConferenceCam Connect couldn’t do. I could see a chair at the side of the room and its occupant that I’d never been able to see with other cameras.
The microphone is quite good. In a previous meeting with the Connect, a meeting member was inaudible to those online when he spoke in a low voice facing sideways. But with the MeetUp, the same person was audible to all participants. And for those in the room, the speakers produce loud, clear sound.
While it’s true that the viewing angle is wider and better suited to our small meeting room, I really appreciate the panning and zooming capability, which lets you set the image to match the room perfectly. You can do this with the remote control, and motion is smooth. The remote also lets you hang up a conference call and mute the microphone, both handy capabilities.
One drawback, however, is digital zoom. That means that if you zoom all the way in, the image becomes fuzzy, as shown in the image above.
Perfect for Tight Meetings
If your workgroup needs to meet with remote colleagues in a cramped space regularly, the Logitech MeetUp is the perfect conferencing device. It suits our small weekly team meetings to a tee, with terrific mic and speaker audio, and a super-wide viewing angle. Its claim of 4K is less important than the aforementioned benefits, it’s a bit pricey, and some control software, while not really necessary, would be a welcome addition. Still, the MeetUp earns our Editors’ Choice.
3. Aver VC520
- Excellent image and sound quality.
- Remote control to pan and zoom camera.
- Field of view isn’t wide enough for some rooms.
We all used Skype specially with multi-party video conferencing, even without springing for Skype for Business. Now more apps like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and even Facebooks Whatsapp and Messenger are good for group conferences. The VC520 has contributed to a noticeable leap in immediacy, in terms of the remote participants seeing us, and us hearing them with more presence thus earning a place in the list of Best Video Conference Camera for 2020
The VC520’s camera looks like the offspring of a missile launcher and a telescope. It measures 7 by 5.5 by 7.2 inches (HWD). The big lens may be intimidating to some, but not to the extroverted members of the PCMag software team. The lens is large because it has a 12x zoom ratio, with an aperture that opens to f/1.8 at the widest angle and narrows slightly to f/2.8 when zoomed all the way in. Its housing is not as slick as that of the Logitech Connect, but the AVer camera is heavy and sturdy, so you don’t have to worry about it sliding around on the table. It can also be mounted to a wall with the included bracket.
The speakerphone unit is attractive in a low-key way; it’s silver and black measuring 8.3 inches in diameter and 2.3 inches high. The hub, which everything connnects to, is much smaller, at a mere 1.2 by 3.8 by 2.8 inches (HWD). Rounding out the included hardware is the remote, which offers Pan, Tilt, and Zoom buttons, along with 10 presets. All the cables you need are included.
Setup, Operation, and App
With so many pieces, the VC520 system isn’t exactly a no-brainer to connect. But once you figure out what the icons on each piece mean, and that everything connects to the hub rather than to the PC, it all makes sense. The system runs on Windows 7 and higher, or Mac OS X 10.7 or later.
As for software setup, we tested the VC520 on Windows 7 and Windows 10, and both automatically installed the drivers needed to operate the hardware. After that, it was easy to pick the AVer camera, microphone, and speaker from Skype’s dropdown settings.
Once your videoconferencing software is talking to the camera, mic, and speaker, using the system is simple. Just hold the remote’s pan, tilt, and zoom buttons until you’ve framed the person or people you want to show. In testing, the camera sometimes took longer to move to the person speaking than I’d like, but in the absence of a capability to automatically move to the person who’s talking, the ten positional presets on the remote make this a more streamlined process.
You don’t actually need to install anything aside from the drivers (which are installed automatically) to get the VC520 up and running, but AVer also includes PTZApp software for more control over the device. It lets you test the camera and adjust settings like sharpness and white balance. More importantly, the software can be used to update the system’s firmware. There are also Skype plug-ins that let you answer and hang up on calls using the remote.
Video and Sound Quality
Image quality using the VC520’s 1080p camera is fantastic. I tested by using Windows 10’s Camera app to see how its image looked locally, and by asking remote Skype video call participants to comment on picture quality. It looks sharp and detailed, even on a large HDTV screen. And audio quality for the speaker is good enough that someone standing outside the room might think that a remote participant is actually in the conference room. If you have a very large conference room, multiple speaker/mic units can be daisy-chained to work in sync.
There are just a couple of minor drawbacks that I should point out. The camera’s field of view, even at its widest setting, is not wide enough to show everyone in our small conference room. Logitech’s ConferenceCam Connect offers a slightly wider angle, but its zoom is digital, where the AVer unit’s is optical, making for sharper close-ups. And if a team member was backlit by a window, we couldn’t see his or her face well because it was too dark, though tilting the camera downward helped with this.
Better Video Conferences
If you need to conduct meetings with remote participants and want a good experience, both visually and audibly, the AVer VC520 is worth considering. It has very noticeably upgraded our videoconferencing experience compared with using a standard webcam and PC speaker. If you need more portability in your webcam/speaker unit, along with a slightly wider field of view, Logitech’s ConferenceCam is also a good option and it rings up for half the price. But for its top-notch image and sound quality, the AVer VC520 easily earns our Editors’ Choice.
4. Poly Studio (Polycom)
- Wide viewing angle 120-degree
- Excellent audio in mics and speakers.
- 4K resolution.
- Camera and people framing
- Digital zoom means fully enlarged images are fuzzy.
- No included control software.
With the Polycom Studio, you can provide most meeting rooms with a universal video conferencing solution. By universal, we mean in this case that the Polycom Studio can handle any videoconferencing application.
Polycom and Plantronics have merged, and the new company has for some time been called Poly. Before this new name was presented, the Polycom Studio was launched onto the market. That is why this video conference solution still bears the old name. It is a universal video conferencing solution because the hardware is not bundled with a specific software solution. From a computer point of view, the Polycom Studio falls more into the category of peripherals, because the device is connected via a USB cable. Windows or macOS then detect the Polycom Studio as a video conferencing solution or a very advanced webcam in no time at all.
Choice of video conference software
This means that the Polycom Studio can be used with any application that can also be used with a webcam. Whether you want to do a conference with Cisco Webex Meetings, Hangouts, Microsoft Teams or Zoom. It doesn’t matter, as long as the application on your PC can handle a webcam.
Of course, the term webcam does the Polycom Studio no justice, because for a price tag of around 1,000 euros you will get a little more than a webcam. It is a videoconferencing solution for normal meeting rooms with up to eight people. Of course, this limit is not fixed, but to get a good picture of everyone and to be able to hear well, a much larger room is not advisable.
Camera & People Framing
In terms of appearance, the Polycom Studio looks a lot like a soundbar that you might have under the TV at home. The camera is mounted in the middle, and the speakers and microphones are mounted on the side. The camera has a 120-degree ultrawide lens and a 4K resolution. In theory, the video quality can be very good. We say in theory because the chosen video conferencing software has to support the resolution. The internet connection must also be fast enough. Many services still use Full HD as a maximum. The camera also has an advanced feature called ‘People Framing’. This feature enables the Polycom Studio to zoom in on the person who is speaking at that moment. We have tested this, and it takes about one sentence for the Polycom Studio to capture the person who is speaking. For those sitting at the table, an LED strip at the top of the Studio shows in which direction the camera is pointing. When someone at the right side of the table is portrayed with People Framing, a small block on the right side of the strip lights up. In the neutral position, the middle LED block is lit.
Sound, microphones and noise cancelling
Regarding the Polycom Studio’s speakers, we have nothing to complain about. The voices are all very audible. Also, the sound comes across naturally. Furthermore, the Polycom Studio has multiple microphones, of course, to record all people in the meeting room when they speak, but also to filter out unwanted background noise. From crying babies, barking dogs to blowing air conditioners. This kind of technology, noise-cancelling, is something that Poly is very good at. You’ll notice that right away when you start using this videoconferencing solution. The person(s) on the other end are easy to understand, but they can also understand all the people in the meeting room very well.
In terms of audio, Poly has added much more technology than regarding video. Another feature in which the company is strong. The Polycom Studio is configured in such a way that only audio within 3.66 meters of the unit is transmitted by the microphones. Everything further away is beyond what Poly calls the ‘acoustic fence’. That sound is also recorded but then filtered out by noise cancelling. This makes it possible to do videoconferences in open spaces, where other people are at work, as long as they stay outside the 3.66 meters.
If this distance is not enough, due to the size of the room or table, for example when there is a need to make more than 8 people in a room audible during a video conference, an extension microphone can be purchased as an option. It can then be placed a few meters away to increase the range.
PC and monitor are basic requirements for Polycom Studio
Because the Polycom Studio does not have integrated videoconferencing software but works with every application that you can install on your PC, the unit is not independent. The Polycom Studio must always be connected to a PC. This can be done, for example, by connecting the Polycom Studio to the laptop of one of the participants in the meeting. However, a mini-PC with a large monitor or television is recommended. The mini-PC can be set up by the IT department as a meeting room so that it can also be booked in a central agenda. In addition, various videoconferencing systems can be installed on the PC, so that a conference can be set up with every customer and partner. Regardless of which system they use.
There is also good news for companies that have dozens of meeting rooms and may wish to provide several rooms with such an arrangement. Poly has developed an application that makes it possible to manage and configure all the studios in the network so that the administrator does not have to leave all the rooms for a firmware update.
Excellent alternative to expensive conference systems
Although a price tag of 1,000 euros may not sound very cheap, it is good to know that many professional stand-alone conference systems for meeting rooms are much more expensive and are often supplied bundled with software. As a result, the freedom of choice for a conference system is extremely limited. Such an independent system may be a bit more user-friendly, but more and more meetings take place, with Hangouts, Skype and Teams. Every user can handle this perfectly. Furthermore, Windows 10 automatically switches to the camera and audio of the Polycom Studio when it is plugged in.
The biggest competitor for the Polycom Studio is the Logitech Meetup. Logitech was the first to introduce a universal video conferencing solution for rooms up to eight people. The Logitech Meetup is equally expensive in terms of price, but it was a great success. Probably also one of the reasons why Poly decided to come up with a similar product. If we put the products next to each other, we do have a slight preference for the Polycom Studio. It is, of course, a much newer product; the Logitech Meetup has been on the market for about 2 years now. Poly had to outperform that product, at least. Maybe Logitech will come up with a successor soon to increase the competition a bit. We are going to see in time.
5. Logitech Group
- Excellent sound and image quality.
- Compatible with many video-conferencing services.
- Easy setup.
- Zooming not perfectly smooth.
- Resolution, frame rate, and zoom specs not as strong as some competitors.
Logitech is eyeing the significant middle ground between webcams and enterprise-level video systems with conference cameras like the Group.
What’s in the Box?
Unlike the more portable Logitech Connect, the Group is designed to stay put on a conference room table. It includes a PTZ (pan, tilt, zoom) camera, a four-mic noise-canceling speakerphone, and a connector hub. You also get a wall-mounting bracket, all the required cables, Velcro for cable management, a power adapter, and lots of international power plugs in the box.
The microphone on the Group reaches a 20-foot radius, while the AVer VC520 reaches 30 feet. Optional extension microphones that increase the Logitech system’s reach to 28 feet are available for an extra $299, or as a bundle with the rest of the system for $1,249. You can extend the AVer VC520 with an additional speakerphone unit, but that will set you back an extra $399.99.
At 7 by 5.1 by 5.4 inches (HWD) and 1.3 pounds, the Group’s camera is smaller than the VC520’s, which measures a couple of inches deeper and weighs 3.3 pounds. But its footprint isn’t as big as that of the Logitech MeetUp. The speakerphone measures 9.5 by 2.5 by 9.5 inches and weighs 2.6 pounds (so you’ll want to allow some room for it on your conference room table), and the hub comes in at 3.8 by 1.3 by 2.9 inches and 3 ounces.
The Group shoots in 1080p at 30fps (frames per second), compared with the VC520’s 1080p at 60fps. It sports a wider field of view, however, at 90 degrees (the VC520 captures 72.5 degrees). Panning and tilting are identical between both cameras, at 260 degrees and 90 degrees, respectively. The VC520 zooms a bit more (12x) compared with the Group (10x). For a super-wide angle suitable to smaller huddle rooms, the MeetUp is unbeatable, with its 120-degree field of view in 4K resolution and 170-degree panning, though it only offers 5x zooming.
While the Group’s camera specs are identical to those of its predecessor, it adds face detection and five position presets, which are convenient if meeting attendees sit at set places. This feature negates the need to pan and tilt to capture regularly placed participants during recurrent meetings. That said, the VC520 has twice the number of presets.
The attractive speakerphone unit shares one cool design feature with the ConferenceCam Connect. The remote control conveniently fits into its chassis for storage. The Group’s remote rests in the speakerphone, though, while the Connect’s snaps in. The MeetUp offers no storage for its ungainly square remote (which we misplaced).
Setting up the Group is straightforward, but a bit more involved than for the MeetUp. No setup guide is included; there’s just a diagram on the inside of the product box, a reference card showing controls and connections, and the warranty and safety pamphlets. After connecting power to the hub, you need to connect the speaker and camera to it via USB 2.0 and PS/2 plugs; the color-coded plugs make it hard to get the connections wrong, and Velcro ties help keep the cables neat. You can also connect a laptop or smartphone to the speakerphone using Bluetooth.
The devices are compatible with Windows 7, 8.1, and 10, and with Mac OS X 10.10 or later. Once you plug the unit in, the camera and speakerphone come to life. The drivers automatically downloaded and installed on the Windows 10 laptop I used for testing.
Great Sound and Video
Autofocus with face detection performed admirably in testing, and panning is much more fluid than on the initial beta hardware of the Group I used, though zooming is still not perfectly smooth. The remote’s buttons worked well in testing, though it is IR-based, so you need line of sight for it to work, unlike the MeetUp’s RF remote.
The Group captures H.264 video with Scalable Video Coding (SVC) and UVC 1.5 compression to save on bandwidth, which sometimes results in a pixelated image. Using Windows 10’s built-in camera app, without streaming video over a network, showed the Group to be capable of very sharp detail, and Skyping with a good connection also produced smooth video quality.
The sound from the speaker unit is natural and clear, on par with the VC520, as long as participants on the other end of the call are using decent mics. We tested the claimed radius of the speakerphone mic, and at a distance of 20 feet, remote listeners were able to hear my voice loud and clear.
Echo cancellation, double talk enhancement (which keeps one party from cutting off another while talking), automatic gain control (making soft-spoken folk more audible), and beamforming are built into the Group. That last enhancement uses the mic array to pick up the person speaking, rather than extraneous noise. I tested this by playing music in the room while using the Group; I positioned myself farther away from the speakerphone than the music source, and my voice still came through clearly on the other side of the connection.
As with the Logitech ConferenceCam Connect and the AVer VC520, there’s no video-conferencing software included with the Group—in contrast to professional systems like Cisco’s TelePresence and Polycom’s RealPresence. Instead, it works as the video and audio peripherals for just about every video-conferencing service, including Adobe Connect, BlueJeans, Skype for Business, Vidyo, WebEx, Zoom, or whatever IP-based video-conferencing service you’re using on your connected computer.
Before you can use the speakerphone’s Call Answer and Hang Up buttons when using BlueJeans, Broadsoft, LifeSize Cloud, Vidyo, and Zoom, you need to first install a software plugin, available from support.logitech.com. Note that, since the Windows 10 Store app version of Skype doesn’t support plugins, you’ll have to install Skype Classic. Users of enterprise-level conferencing services like BlueJeans, Skype for Business, and Zoom get the additional ability to control PTZ from remote locations (again, after downloading a plugin).
You can also use the Group with Logitech’s SmartDock . This is basically an embedded Surface Pro that acts as a permanent hub for a conference room, and uses the Skype Room Systems control software.
Perfect for Your Group?
The Logitech Group boasts sharp HD video, full sound, and a microphone with a 20-foot radius, making it a good fit for use in medium to large rooms. And it offers superior value compared with traditional business video-conferencing systems, which can come with five-figure price tags. The camera’s PTZ functionality is a smidge less smooth than the Editors’ Choice AVer VC520, which also sports slightly higher specs for the same price. For smaller conference and huddle rooms, the Logitech Meetup is another Editors’ Choice. But the Group is an admirable alternative and is included in the Best Video Conference Camera selection for 2020.