The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives, perhaps forever. At this point, gone are the big face-to-face meetings with colleagues and clients and video conference calls. One of the hats I wear on a daily basis is a college speaker and now all of my gear comes online with Zoom video conferencing calls and I prefer it. I no longer need to travel 45 minutes to get to college from my other job, worry about traffic, parking, etc. Just turn on my PC, fire up the webcam, and I’m good to go.
Of course, it’s all up to me to have a webcam that’s decent enough for students and others on video calls to see me properly. That’s where the new Dell UltraSharp webcam comes in. The Dell UltraSharp webcam promises to deliver exceptional video quality with a range of useful features for the dedicated professional looking to optimize their online video presence. Does it live up to the hype? Read on to find out what I thought after using it for a few weeks.
So what is it?
It’s a 4K webcam in an unusual housing – it’s a cylindrical metal housing that carries weight, that’s for sure. Inside is a Sony Starvis 4K CMOS sensor and multi-element lens to allow the camera to capture more light.
The housing has a magnetic cap / disc which is on the front or back of the webcam depending on whether or not you want to hide the lens, ie. For the sake of safety we will place the metal lens cap on the top of the lens to prevent prying eyes when you are not using the camera. Under the cylinder, the holder and the USB-C cable plug in.
Any old USB-C cable worked for me, although I needed a decent quality one to get full 4K resolution. As for the stand, there are two in the box – a monitor stand and a stand that can be attached to the top of a tripod. There isn’t much to them but they work well.
The monitor stand allows the camera to be tilted up and down but will not move left or right which is not a major issue considering the software functionality of the camera – more info below (see Automatic framing powered by AI).
The functionality of the Dell UltraSharp webcam is controlled using the Dell Peripheral Manager software. Inside, you will be able to adjust your settings such as:
- color settings – default, smooth, vibrant or warm – the video below was taken with the setting at smooth.
- Camera control: AI auto framing on or off, field of view, zoom and autofocus on or off.
- Color & Picture – HDR, auto white balance, brightness, sharpness, contrast, and saturation (I left them at default levels)
Plug in your camera and, assuming the program you’re using supports 4K, you’ll immediately notice the difference in image quality compared to your previous 1080P or 720P webcam – assuming you have a monitor capable of display said resolutions (I do). Make sure that, if you use this in a professional sense, you prepare accordingly before any video with clients or your boss. The crystal-clear 4K webcam will capture every strand of gray stubble in your beard.
The webcam can be set to auto zoom where it will zoom in or out to keep you in focus and fully in the picture. It worked well, especially when I was too close to zoom out to fit my whole head in the frame. Zooming in when I was further away seemed to work every now and then – I don’t think it’s designed for this, so it might just be auto-framing instead of zooming.
Auto-framing uses AI to recognize your face and keep it in the center of the video. It runs slowly, so don’t expect it to jump if you do – it will wait for you to move, then it will have to recognize your new location, then move slowly to get you in the center. Although slow it worked well however and if you are someone who tends to move around a bit during videos this will come in very handy – this is also another thing you do NOT have to worry about though. you give a conference that will be recorded. Just get the right audio material, the video will take care of itself.
Many webcams suffer from picture quality when the light in the room is low. With the HDR built into the Dell UltraSharp webcam and the large Sony sensor, the colors and lighting of the video were always exceptional. As you can see in the video above, whether the room is bright or dark, the picture quality barely changed.
The webcam also integrates with Windows so you can use it as a Windows Hello camera so you can log in quickly and securely using facial recognition every time. It worked great for me once I installed it regardless of the light level in my room.
Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?
While audio is somewhat of an afterthought when it comes to video conferencing, as most people already have some form or a headset / earphones / earphones or speakers that they use, it is still disappointing. that the Dell UltraSharp webcam does not include a microphone of any kind. Like I said above I have multiple speakers / microphones so the lack of sound didn’t affect me at all and I dare say it won’t affect most of you no more.
Some reviewers have mentioned issues with video in low light conditions, but it sounded good to me, but I’m not a professional video streamer. If you’re such a person, dare I say you’d have some decent studio lighting (or one of the light rings / diffusers that influencers love) to allow for any lighting / video glitches should they arise. For me it was very good – see the video above.
Some people have asked me how to use these webcams as a video conferencing tool on an Android TV. Unfortunately, the software that controls all of the features is Windows only, so while you can get it to work with your Android TV, it won’t be fully functional. I managed to connect it to my Nvidia Shield and it sort of worked, even though the camera kept being recognized by the system – and the resolution was terrible. I have a 4K TV but my Shield is not a Shield 4K so there were a lot of scaling issues but it was very pixelated nonetheless. I would say for now, not for general consumption with Android in general.
Should we buy it?
4K webcams are incredibly inexpensive, and let’s be honest, most people don’t need a 4K webcam for basic video conferencing. For me, although I record a lot of my lectures for online access, 4K adds even more detail to my already amazing lectures (zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz). If you’re serious about your streaming whether it’s video conferencing or recording for other purposes, I can highly recommend the Dell UltraSharp webcam.
The automatic AI framing is fantastic and works well, although I would prefer it to run a little faster, maybe with the next iteration of the software. HDR also achieves decent images and light in almost any lighting condition – keep in mind that HDR and 4K combined mean every blemish in your skin / hair will be displayed in this ultra high. definition!
The Dell UltraSharp webcam (WB7022) doesn’t come cheap though, but if you’re serious about that online conferencing thing, it’s worth it (especially if your business is paying and you aren’t). It’s available in Australia starting at $ 379 and New Zealand starting at $ 424.