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Dell is launching the Dell UltraSharp Webcam, an intelligent 4K webcam that the company claims is the best in its class.

If there’s one thing that most of us figured out in the pandemic, it’s that webcam meetings were a sorry substitute for seeing people in person. But Zoom meetings and other ways of connecting over video are probably here to stay, as the video conferencing market is expected to generate $50 billion in revenue by 2026.

And Dell has tried to engineer the best 4K webcam for $200. Dell pulled out all the stops in designing the device, and it noted the urgency. Just one week into the global lockdowns, 62 million users downloaded video conferencing apps.

“Remote work has become the norm for many,” said Wee Kee Yeo, vice president at Dell in an interview with VentureBeat.

The new webcam is targeted at both professionals and anyone who wants a better video conferencing experience. Dell started by looking at the image quality of Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras used by professionals and photo enthusiasts.

The design and engineering teams then challenged themselves to develop a webcam that delivers DSLR-like image quality while being  intelligent and easy-to-use.

Best image quality 4K webcam in its class

Above: Dell UltraSharp Webcam uses HDR to get the lighting right on your face.

Image Credit: Dell

Yeo said the Dell UltraSharp Webcam provides the best image quality in its class of 4K webcams and produces outstanding video quality in any lighting condition. The Dell UltraSharp Webcam features a large 4K Sony STARVIS CMOS sensor and multi-element lens that captures more light. That gives it better low-light performance and sharper video.

The camera has Digital Overlap HDR capability that can adjust the lighting in a shot based on the lighting conditions in your room. It helps to preserve true-to-life colors and balance exposure. The 3D/2D video noise reduction automatically eliminates grainy images, making sure you’ll look good even in low light.

“You know the importance of looking your best from every angle in every lighting condition,” Yeo said.

The camera sits on top of your monitor. It has HDR (high dynamic range) that allows it to discern faces in high-contrast environments, where faces usually get hidden in the dark or washed out by sunlight.

“HDR ensures there are minimal distractions, even if you are in extreme lighting conditions. A typical example is a window next to you or behind you where there is a lot of daylight coming into the office or the home.”

It comes with a USB-C cable that can connect to a monitor dock or computer. It also has a magnetic mount or a tripod.

Customizable field of view

Above: Dell UltraSharp Webcam costs $200.

Image Credit: Dell

It also has auto-framing, which utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to keep you in focus and centered in every frame. You can also customize your field of view from 65 degrees, 78 degrees, and 90 degrees, together with 5x digital zoom.

I really like this feature because I’ve been using a green screen for a while with my HP laptop’s webcam. But the webcam has a wide field of view that I can’t control. So I have to adjust the position of the laptop and the greenscreen every time I do a call. I try to make sure that the camera view covers only the green screen, and not the messy bookshelf on either side.

With the narrow 65-degree field of view, I can easily crop out the sides of the green screen so people watching me can only see green in the background, and that lets me add my own virtual backgrounds more easily.

“It’s quite elegant, compact,” said Dell’s Divya Soni in an interview with VentureBeat. “These components come together in order to bring a very powerful feature-rich webcam.”

The camera has a proximity sensor that detects your presence and wakes up the system. It can identify you and unlock the system.

“It’s an end-to-end security experience where you are done within seconds,” Soni said.

Being smart

Above: Dell UltraSharp Webcam can detect you as you approach the computer.

Image Credit: Dell

The Dell UltraSharp webcam features Windows Hello, enabling you to sign in quickly and securely using facial recognition. Dell also embedded the Dell ExpressSign-in feature to work in concert with Dell PCs — meaning proximity sensors on the webcam detect your presence as you approach and automatically logs you out when you step away, providing that extra level of security without lifting a finger.

And finally, a magnetic privacy cover securely snaps on the lens or on the back, protecting the lens when the webcam is not in use and providing a safe place to store while using the webcam.

With these intelligent features in place and certification with leading unified communications platforms like Microsoft Teams and Zoom, the Dell UltraSharp webcam is primed for collaboration.

As for its shape, the Dell UltraSharp webcam is a sleek black cylinder with an all-aluminum body. While most traditional webcams are rectangular, the UltraSharp Webcam’s circular form factor and slim monitor mount ensures minimal front-of-screen distractions.

Paired with a magnetic mount and tripod adapter (sold separately) for transitions between monitor and tripod, you can move it around your office or elsewhere to get better angles. Dell said you can use it at an executive town hall, a 1-on-1 meeting, or while livestreaming esports on Twitch.

The webcam will be on sale for $200 on June 29. You’ll still need a microphone and headset to go with the webcam.

“We’ve intentionally opted not to include a microphone on this product,” said Yeo. “The focus of the product is all about visual quality. Most users nowadays have a laptop with a microphone array and a headset.”

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