Anyone who has owned a laptop and tried to video call a friend or family member has noticed how terrible the video quality is. Even in the best laptops, the video quality can be extremely pixelated and laggy. But why is this?
Laptops have bad cameras because they represent an area where manufacturers can cut corners and save on production costs. Laptop manufacturers would rather spend resources on components that will fetch them higher prices for their laptops, such as better screens and processors.
Building a powerful camera tiny enough to fit into a thin laptop screen is very costly. For example, it’s estimated that smartphone cameras represent about 12% of a phone’s manufacturing cost.
Laptop manufacturers know that a powerful laptop camera is not a dealbreaker, so they typically build products with cheap cameras.
The truth is that many people do not buy laptops because of their cameras. They buy laptops because they want a portable computer that they can do work or play games on. This means people will care much more about how sleek a laptop is and how fast it will run than they do about the camera quality.
Manufacturers also know that most people that require a serious camera on their laptop will probably bite the bullet and purchase an external camera. So manufacturers spend the money they would use on a quality camera making their laptops thinner and faster.
Can You Replace A Laptop’s Camera?
Some laptop cameras can be replaced, but only with the exact same camera from another laptop of the same model. This is because most laptops are not built with modularity in mind. Even if you can locate a replacement part, you may still require professional help in order to correctly replace your laptop’s camera.
Unfortunately this means that you will not be able to upgrade your laptop’s camera at all, only replace it if it breaks. Even then, some laptops will make this extremely difficult or even impossible.
Depending on how your laptop was built, the camera is either in place via screws and cables, or via soldering. If your laptop’s camera is soldered in place, you would be better off just buying an external camera for your laptop. Even if your laptop’s camera is replaceable, finding the exact camera to replace it can be a chore and most of the time will not be worth the effort.
The good news is that you can always purchase an external camera which will have much better quality than anything you will find inside of a laptop. This also has the advantage of being able to replace the camera if it ever stops working or you want to upgrade.
The best way to improve the quality of your laptop camera is to make sure you have adequate lighting. When your room is dim, your laptop camera will likely produce dark, grainy video. To improve its quality, sit in front of a bright window or invest in artificial lighting.
There’s no way to actually improve the baseline quality of a laptop camera, but the above steps will ensure that it is performing at its best.
If your image is extremely pixelated while trying to video call someone, then it’s likely that your internet cannot handle the video call. Try checking how the camera looks offline and if it is much better, I’d recommend plugging your laptop into an ethernet port instead of using the Wi-Fi.
Other than your internet speed, laptops usually cannot process a lot of things at once. Depending on your laptop, video chatting and similar tasks may strain your laptop’s performance. This means if you plan to use the camera on your laptop, you should make sure that there are not many other tasks and programs running in the background.
The only surefire way to drastically improve the quality of your laptop camera is by purchasing an external webcam for your laptop. These cameras can record up to 4k resolution and will look much more crisp than any built-in camera.
Here is how to check your laptop camera’s specs on Windows:
- Press ⊞+R to open the Windows “Run” dialog.
- Enter “devmgmt.msc” in the “Run” dialog, then press enter to open the Device Manager.
- From the list of device categories, find “Cameras”, and click the dropdown.
- The name of your camera should be listed under the “Cameras” dropdown.
Open the Windows “Run” dialog by pressing ⊞+R. Type “devmgmt.msc” in the “Open” box, then press OK.
Your camera name will be shown under the dropdown named, “Camera”.
Information about a laptop’s camera can be found in the device manager on Windows systems. Your laptop’s camera specs are listed under “integrated camera”, where you can view details like the camera’s manufacturer, driver specs, and model number.
Unfortunately, other details like your camera’s resolution, angle of view, etc. are not viewable from the device manager. To find these details, you’ll need to research your specific laptop online.
For example, I was able to find my laptop camera’s specs by searching Google for my specific laptop model. Punching in “Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 camera specs” brought up a number of results that detailed the camera specifications for my laptop.
The Apple MacBook Pro has a 1080p HD quality integrated camera, which is the best quality you will find on any modern laptop.
Most laptops will only offer a 720p camera, so 1080 is top-of-the-line as far as camera quality goes, and MacBook Pros are the only models that consistently offer this quality.
If you need a Windows computer, then some Surface laptops also offer 1080p camera resolution, but they are not guaranteed and you will need to do some research to figure out which models have the camera and which still use 720p.
Yes, you can use a webcam with a laptop. Most laptops will support any webcam that is plugged in through a USB port. Windows PCs and Mac computers will automatically detect USB-connected webcams when they’re plugged in.
If you plug an external webcam into your laptop and it is not automatically detected, then you may need to download drivers from your webcam’s manufacturer. The only major exceptions are when a laptop is so old that it can no longer handle the drivers required for an external webcam to work, but this is extremely rare.
The Logitech 4k Brio Webcam is the best webcam to date for any laptop or desktop PC. This webcam has noise cancellation, auto light correction, 4k HD resolution, and works seamlessly with every piece of modern video calling software (Zoom, Skype, Google Voice, etc).
Another extremely useful feature of the Logitech 4k Brio webcam is that it works with Macs and PCs alike with no extra hassle. It also supports framerates of up to 90 FPS, making it perfect for streamers and business people alike.
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