Dell's UltraSharp Webcam aims to keep users in the frame
Computer tech giant Dell challenged itself to create a webcam that could deliver "DSLR-like image quality while being intelligent and easy-to-use." The UltraSharp Webcam is the result, a 4K videochat tool that promises to keep users in the frame.
For most of us, visiting friends and family, or even getting to work, has been quite a challenge over the last year or so. Fortunately we live in connected times, and videochats have proven essential for keeping us in touch with those we can't see in person.
Though the cameras in smartphones can be useful here, those needing a quality bump will likely plump for a dedicated webcam – though some companies have also developed software than can put a standalone camera to work as a videoconferencing tool.
For its new high-end webcam, Dell has shunned the rectangular shape of many standalone devices on the market for a 3.54-in-long anodized aluminum cylinder with a diameter of 1.65 in (9 x 4 cm). It's reported certified for Microsoft Teams and Zoom, and optimized for Skype, Google Meet and Hangout, Slack, and more.
At its heart is a Sony STARVIS 8.3-MP CMOS image sensor fronted by a multi-element lens for 4K UHD resolution at up to 30 frames per second, or 1080p/720p at up to 60 fps. And onboard image processing optimizes the visuals, including cooked-in Digital Overlap HDR capability that can help brighten up poorly lit chat sessions, while delivering more realistic colors, and 3D/2D video noise reduction chops automatically dealing with grainy images.
There's also a clever auto-framing feature that uses AI smarts to keep the user in the center of the frame as they move around, without the webcam itself panning on its mount. Autofocus, auto white balance and auto lighting correction all help to keep imagery tip-top, though the demo included on the product page doesn't seem to be quite as quick to track the user as in the overview video below. Users can also choose a 65°, 78° or 90° field of view, and 5x digital zoom is available too.
An IR module allows folks to quickly sign into a Windows machine via Windows Hello, and there's an express sign-in feature included for Dell PCs that can log someone in as soon as the webcam detects an authorized user approaching, or out again as they leave.
The webcam comes with a USB-C to USB-A cable for connecting the unit to a PC, though it can also be used with MacOS systems. It's supplied with a magnetic mount and tripod adapter for placement versatility, while Dell's Peripheral Manager software caters for settings tweaks. When users want some privacy, a magnetic cover can be snapped over the lens – also protecting it between uses. This can be attached to the back of the body when it's time to videochat.
There does seem to be one glaring omission from the spec sheet though. Dell has neglected to include a built-in microphone so users will need to cable up an external mic to the computer, or make use of a Bluetooth headset. This could be an annoyance for home workers, but may actually suit those who prefer to use studio mics anyway.
The UltraSharp Webcam is on sale now for US$199, matching the list price of Logitech's excellent Brio 4K Pro webcam. The video below has more.
Product page: UltraSharp Webcam