Webcam vs. Laptop Camera: Which is Better?

New laptops are designed with a variety of advanced features, but they tend to cut corners when it comes to their cameras, either to hit a lower price point or just to keep them as thin and light as possible. While it may be more convenient to use the built-in camera on your laptop, chances are it will produce a grainy, pixelated image. Needless to say, you won’t look your best — and if you’re constantly working from home or on the go, it’s important to make the best impression possible.

With a quality external webcam, you have access to better features like higher resolution, digital zoom, and improved low-light performance. In this article, we are going to explain how investing in a webcam can make a huge difference in both your personal and professional life.

Enhanced video clarity

Let’s say you have to be on Zoom for hours at a time for school or work, so you dress nicely and set up studio-quality lighting on your face. You probably don’t want that effort to be wasted when your webcam renders you as a fuzzy, pixelated, human blob. Finding the right webcam to capture your appearance may sound like a daunting task, but there are only a few key features to consider.

If you’re getting a webcam for class projects, you can stick with a basic 1080p webcam. Since these webcams can capture Full HD video, they’re a practical upgrade from laptop cameras which tend to only capture 720p at best. In addition to school-related activities, 1080p webcams are great for casual video calls with family and friends. Most free video calling apps don’t support resolutions above 1080p anyway, so you won’t be missing out on higher quality.

However, if you’re trying to build credibility in a professional setting, bad lighting and blurry video won’t do you any favors. That’s why we recommend having a 4K webcam at your disposal. 4K webcams use higher resolution sensors to capture sharper images and richer colors in Ultra HD. That’s four times as many pixels as a 1080p webcam! If you want your video to look almost like you’re there in person, 4K is the way to go.

Here are two photos taken moments apart: the first using a 2020 Macbook Air camera at 720p (left) and the second with a NexiGo N940P external webcam at 2K (right). As you can see, without making any adjustments to the webcam’s settings, the N940P expertly adds more color and shading to the subject’s face.

While the Macbook Air has a ton of amazing features, it’s lacking in camera quality. The biggest problem with the Macbook is that the resolution is capped at 720p. And since Apple doesn’t let you tweak the laptop’s built-in camera settings natively, you’re forced to spend more cash on various third-party software in the Mac app store if you want to do so. Meanwhile, the NexiGo N950P provides excellent color and lighting with the free NexiGo Software Tool.

Now we know what you’re probably thinking: comparing a 720P laptop camera to a 2K webcam isn’t fair, but it does demonstrate how much better your Zoom calls can look with a little upgrade to your hardware. 

Built-in Ring Lights

For those looking to stream on YouTube or Twitch, making a great first impression is key to growing your viewership. If you like that dark room vibe, you will need a light so people can see your face. The advantage of a ring light webcam is that it provides a quality image while also highlighting your face. For example, the NexiGo N960E has three adjustable light modes — low, medium, and high — so you can choose the level that best fits your studio space.

This webcam’s ring light can even be adjusted for color temperatures ranging from white light to a warm orange glow. If you’re a streamer, you already use lighting to create a mood for your room, so this ring light will let you match that. As if that wasn’t enough, these ring light webcams can be integrated with OBS, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch so you can seamlessly use them with your existing setup.

More control over your camera

Webcams that include remotes allow you to customize many settings with just the touch of a button. While you could try slanting your laptop screen for a better camera angle, the combination of the camera’s tilting mount and the remote makes for easy framing. For example, the NexiGo N950P includes a 5x digital zoom with pan and tilt functions, which is perfect for capturing only what you want in the frame.

If you’re away from the laptop for any reason, the remote can also help you raise or lower the volume on the webcam’s built-in microphone. And if your room is too dark, you can adjust the brightness and backlight compensation to your liking. 

Look your best

These are just a few examples of how an external webcam can help you look your best. Now that it’s more common for schools and businesses to allow learning and working from home, it’s good to keep your options open to what’s out there. And if you feel that your laptop’s camera isn’t meeting your expectations, it may be time for an upgrade.

The right webcam can help you make a better impression for potential employers, engage more with teachers and classmates in online meetings, and connect with loved ones on the other side of the country — or the world. If you want to learn more, check out our collection of NexiGo Webcams.

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