The best equipment for online meetings: Web cameras, lights, tripods and more

Whether you are working or at a gathering of friends or family, in this time of confinement due to the coronavirus pandemic, most of your social interactions, whether professional or personal, take place online. Zoom It is the predominant platform for work meetings, while personal ones usually take place on FaceTime, Google Hangouts or Instagram. Whatever the platform, it doesn’t matter, the video calls They have become the new normal form of coexistence, so the time has come to improve the equipment you have to make videos.

This involves learning the basics of going on camera — from choosing the optimal environment, positioning camera lenses, and optimizing lighting conditions. The other part is having the right equipment. And in most cases, sorry to say, the camera and microphone on your laptop are very bad – and they are preventing you from connecting effectively and how you want through video.

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Upgrading the technology you use for video and sound is very easy from a technical perspective, however, and relatively affordable — and will dramatically improve your production levels in your virtual meetings. We’ve made a short list of favorites: cameras, microphones, and other gear that will improve the quality of your video in online meetings.

(Prices were accurate at the time of original publication, but may fluctuate — especially with the growing demand for these products. Also, stock and shipping times are changing, so check those details before making your purchase.)

Since everyone started working from home in mid-March, the affordable Logitech C920 external webcam has been sold out everywhere. And the few times you find the Logitech C920 camera it is priced up to $ 150 or more – which is too much. As such, I recommend purchasing Logitech’s excellent new StreamCam – an excellent webcam that is currently not available either, but which, according to our reports, will be available again in June on B&H Photo.

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Meanwhile, you can use a tripod and your phone’s HD camera to increase the quality of video calls when you stream live.

Blue Microphones

Nothing can sabotage an online meeting as fast as intermittent background noise, and the built-in microphone on your laptop can be the culprit. Once you add a new webcam to your gear, you’ll be better — but a separate microphone will make you sound clearer and better. This Blue Yeti model is used by those who do podcasts and broadcast live, and it is the one that I use when I record audio or participate in an important video call.

Yes, it looks like one you would use on a radio station in 1940, but the audio technology is 100 percent modern. It features three encapsulated microphones, four recording patterns, and enough controls to help you optimize the way you sound without being overloaded with many technical specifications.

If you sit in front of a white wall or open windows, your webcam will try to balance it, wrapping your silhouette. The solution: put a light behind the camera that shines on your face. Since many cheap video lights are now out of stock, we’ve seen more premium ones, like the Joby Beamo Mini. It’s in the most expensive range, but it’s extremely compact, waterproof, and incredibly bright, capable of bursting 1,000 lumens, though the iOS app and included diffuser make it easy to dial in the perfect amount of light. It has a magnetic back that will adhere to any metal surface and can also be screwed onto a tripod.

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It’s hard to do several things while you’re in a video conference: opening and closing apps, resizing browsers and windows, all while talking to your boss on your Google Hangouts or Zoom video call — it can be a little too much. One solution is to download all the audio and video load outside the computer to your phone – which may have a better camera, video quality and a better microphone -, freeing up the laptop to take notes, consult documents and spreadsheets, or whatever. be.

If you’re going to do this, you’ll need an adjustable tripod that can hold your phone steady – and at an angle that benefits you visually. I like Joby’s tripod, which includes a clip large enough to accommodate my iPhone XS Max. And I also like the company’s flexible Gorillapods, which can be grabbed around poles or non-flat surfaces.

If you are using an old MacBook Air laptop or a Windows that has been out for a long time, you will know that a single Zoom session is enough for your options to do something else at the same time they do not exist. A newer laptop with an updated processor and webcam software – a 9th or 10th generation Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 should suffice – will make video conferencing much easier to support.

I recently retired my old MacBook Air and bought a Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga and was amazed at what I was missing: incredible speed (courtesy of the modern Intel processor), USB-C ports, and a touchscreen. And currently you get it from US $ 1,000. For other recommendations, check out our list of the best laptops for 2020.