Tadpole hatches as a tiny webcam specifically designed for laptops
Most laptops and Macbooks come with a webcam built in, but they can leave video-chatters somewhat wanting in terms of performance and image quality. Newcomer Opal Camera has addressed such things with a small-but-powerful model called the Tadpole.
The Tadpole comes two years after the release of the company's C1 webcam, a US$300 mini brick rocking a 4K Sony sensor that measured 4.07 x 1.97 x 1.81 in and weighed in at just 7 oz. The new model is much smaller and lighter at 1.77 x 1.37 x 0.78 in (45 x 35 x 20 mm) and 1.2 oz (35 g), respectively.
"Most webcams are large and built to live on top of a monitor in a home office," said company co-founder, Stefan Sohlstrom. "At Opal, we challenged ourselves to deliver high-quality hardware, but in a beautiful form factor that's as tiny, convenient, and plug and play as possible. We put everything that you would want when working on a laptop… directly into the hardware."
The designers have managed to squeeze a larger CMOS sensor into the teeny box, which shapes up as a 48-megapixel Sony IMX582 Exmor RS flavor where the resolution is scaled down to 1080p at 30 frames per second – technically a downgrade, but with a new machine-learning ISP system based around a brand-new processor for the promise of "DSLR-rivaling quality."
The Tadpole boasts a F1.8 aperture, six-element glass lens offering a 70-degree field of view and phase-detection autofocus. It's designed to clamp to the top of any laptop display and is cabled up over USB-C, with the connector sporting nifty capacitive tap-to-mute functionality for tap-tastic instant muting of the directional MEMS microphone.
"On a device this small, there's really no room for a button. Putting a capacitive touch sensor into the USB plug is a feature we all love and an elegant way to solve the 'you're on mute' problem everyone has had," said Opal's David Kalinowski.
The braided USB cable can also turn the tiny webcam into wrap-around wrist candy for ease of transport, or there's an optional transparent carry case available.
The Tadpole is on sale now for $175, and is reported compatible with both Mac and PC. The C1 model is still available at a reduced price of $250.
Product page: Opal Tadpole