Over the past few months, getting a good webcam has become next to impossible for some people. There has been such a demand from homeworkers who need to participate in Zoom or Microsoft teams meetings, some of the best webcams on the market are completely sold out or fetch up to three times their regular retail price.

If the webcam you were looking for is out of stock or out of financial reach, there are alternatives to consider. Can these challenger webcams improve the sometimes horrendous quality of many webcams built into some laptops?

When choosing a webcam upgrade, the first thing to consider is the desired resolution and frame rate. At the high end, 60fps (frames per second) and 1080p resolution are good numbers to aim for. Having said that, I would rather have a good webcam offering 30fps and 720p resolution than a budget webcam claiming to be 60fps and 1080p.

Good webcams will not only offer HD resolution and higher frame rates, but some of them will have autofocus and even artificial intelligence to detect human faces and automatically adjust exposure so that the user doesn’t end up looking like a silhouette when participating in a video conference in a dimly lit room.

The eMeet C960 is a reasonably priced 30fps and 1080p webcam that looks a lot like the excellent Logitech C922 Pro which I reviewed earlier this year. For most video chats, it’s not really necessary to have 60 fps, and if there are bandwidth issues during the meeting, a slower frame rate can help. Some adult cam sites even have software that allows the user to choose a frame rate and resolution. Unless you’re juggling or exercising in front of the camera, a frame rate of 30 frames per second is fine.

The C960 webcam doesn’t have any software to change its settings, but it’s plug-and-play on Windows and macOS computers. Simply plug the webcam’s USB cable into the host computer and the video chat software should automatically recognize the presence of the webcam along with its two built-in microphones. Since there is no companion software, it is not possible to change the color balance or exposure of the C960. In addition, there is no autofocus but the focus is fixed at 5 cm to 5 m.

Inside the eMeet C960 is a 1920 x 1080p CMOS sensor with what appears to be a four-element plastic lens with a strong anti-reflective coating. The webcam’s two microphones include noise-canceling circuitry for clarity. Each microphone is spaced enough apart to give a fairly wide stereo effect. The webcam is quite large and measures 12 cm in diameter.

Setting up and operating the C960 is very easy, but it is important to ensure that the webcam and its microphones are selected as inputs on the video or chat software being used.

The webcam has a stand that folds out to allow it to be perched on a computer screen or laptop screen. Rubber inserts ensure the webcam won’t move or slip and a hinge mechanism tilts the camera 90 degrees, but there is no pan adjustment. Finally, there is a tripod socket on the mount that allows the eMeet C960 to be mounted on almost any standard or mini tripod for placement flexibility.

The first thing I noticed about the webcam when I first started using it was its distinctive color cast. It looks quite green and doesn’t reproduce lighter skin tones particularly well. I think it made me look slightly uncomfortable and discolored. The video image displays noise and the refresh rate can sometimes get a bit choppy and pixelated, although the quality may improve with higher light levels. This is not a webcam for late night online chats.

The sound quality of the microphones of the eMeet C960 is quite good and the noise cancellation can handle some background noise very well. Even so, I think I would recommend using a good headset if full audio clarity is essential.

Verdict: The eMeet C960 is an acceptable webcam, but it cannot compete on picture or sound quality with The Logitech C922 Pro or StreamCam, both of which I reviewed recently. It’s a more affordable webcam than either of the two Logitech models, but the lack of software to adjust image quality or exposure is a bit of a shame. The slightly choppy, pixelated video would make me consider spending a bit more to buy something that will be a significant improvement over the base webcam built into many laptops. If your budget is tight, the eMeet C960 is worth a closer look, but you can probably do better by spending a little more.

Pricing: $ 69.99 / £ 49.99

More information: www.emeet.ai

Characteristics:

● Sensor: true 1920 x 1080p CMOS

● Lens: four-layer anti-glare optics

● Resolution: 1920 x 1080 at 30 frames per second

● Focus range: 5cm to 5m

● Audio: two microphones with noise cancellation.

● Connector: USB A

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