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Dell has launched a high-end UltraSharp webcam that costs $199.99 and is available now worldwide. Its cylindrical design is reminiscent of Apple’s old but iconic iSight external webcam, but its features are aimed to compete with Logitech’s Brio and other modern 4K-ready webcams. In addition, it aims to serve as a more affordable and easier-to-set up alternative to mounting a DSLR camera behind your monitor.
The UltraSharp is a USB-C webcam that houses a Sony STARVIS CMOS 8.3-megapixel sensor. It’s capable of recording or streaming in 4K at 30 or 24 frames per second and in 1080p or 720p at 24, 30, or 60 frames per second. You can tweak the field of view (FOV) between 65 degrees for a close crop, 78 degrees, or 90 degrees for the widest crop available. The webcam has a bevy of auto-light correction features that aim to make your picture look good regardless of your lighting. It supports up to 5x digital zoom and has autofocus. Dell claims the UltraSharp offers the best image quality in its class.
This webcam can work without drivers on Windows 10 or macOS computers, but many of its features are accessible only in Dell’s Peripheral Manager software. One of the most appealing features that the software unlocks is the AI auto-framing mode that lets it follow your movements to keep you centered in the frame. The webcam doesn’t actually move, but the video feed appeared to pan and deliver smooth, seamless motion tracking during a live demo shown to The Verge. (The GIF below is an accurate portrayal.) A similar feature has appeared recently in Amazon’s new Echo Show smart displays and the latest iPad Pro, and it’s a perk that currently sets Dell’s webcam apart from the rest.
Other noteworthy features include its infrared sensor that can log you in to your PC via Windows Hello facial recognition. It also has a proximity sensor that, on Dell PCs, can take advantage of the company’s Express Sign-In feature that can log you in and out automatically depending on whether you’re sitting at your PC or not.
The UltraSharp includes a standard monitor mount as well as a tripod mount. It can connect magnetically to either one. (There’s also a magnetic lens cap included.) The monitor mount seems like it’ll be a solid option for most — even for people who own monitors with the slimmest of bezels. And for streamers or people who are looking for a specific angle, it’s great to have the option to easily put it on a tripod.
But $199.99 isn’t cheap for a webcam, and I haven’t even gotten to its biggest omission: it doesn’t have an internal microphone. Dell said it was focused primarily on optics for this model, so you’ll need to source your own microphone — whether that’s a standalone USB or XLR mic or a headset. That might be a deal-breaker for some, but mic aside, this one’s stacked with enough thoughtful features that might make it worth the price still. We’ll be testing this one, so check back for more in-depth impressions soon.
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