During the COVID-19 pandemic, people found themselves doing more and more video-calls with colleagues, friends and family. While these calls can be a great way to connect, most of us have to face the unfortunate reality that they are not as engaging as in-person meetings. One of the main reasons for that is because most computer webcams are either built into your laptop or clamp on to the top edge of your monitor, which forces you to choose between looking your friend or colleague in the eye (by looking at the camera) or look down at their face (by looking at the screen).
To address this, Center Cam has developed what they claim is the world’s first adjustable middle-screen center cam webcam. The device is essentially a small camera mounted on the end of a flexible metal tube, which passes through a clip that attaches to your monitor. This pairing of the clip and flex tube lets you position the camera almost anywhere in front of your screen.
In terms of specifications, the camera offers a high-end f2.1, 6mm lens that can capture HD Video in 1080p at 30 FPS and has a 65o Horizontal Field of View Aspect Ratio. It also has USB 2.0 connectivity and is compatible with Windows, MacOS and Linux. Moreover, the camera has an onboard microphone that works well enough — though I would still suggest using an external mic for web conferencing.
The design of the Center Cam is simple and surprisingly effective. It looks a bit like a snake cam, and I think it might be a little awkward to have dangling from your monitor, but the camera’s long neck helps you to easily keep it right in between your eyes when chatting. It’s not perfect, but it is a nice solution to the long-standing dilemma of how to make online video chats feel more like in-person conversations.
For the most part, the video quality is good and the camera is easy to set up. However, I did find that the clip didn’t have much tension and sometimes slipped off my monitor if I moved too quickly. I’d suggest using a rubber band or some sort of adhesive to secure the clip to your monitor.
Another issue I had was with the audio quality. The onboard microphone picks up a lot of background noise and isn’t great for capturing your voice. To counter this, I used a different external microphone to get better sound. Overall, if you’re in need of a new webcam that makes video-calls more engaging, then the Center Cam is definitely worth checking out. It can be purchased now from their website in the standard package, which includes a monitor clip and USB-C adapter for $129. They also offer a deluxe package that adds a ring light mount and a storage case for $135.
In addition to being an incredibly cool gadget, I also think the Center Cam could be useful for people who use their laptops in low desk positions, and thus have their camera below eye level. It would be really helpful to be able to flip the image of the camera 180 degrees, so that you could use it in this way and not have to look up your nose during a meeting!