back to article These Rapoo webcams won't blow your mind, but they also won't break the bank

It has been a long 20 months since Lockdown 1.0, and despite the best efforts of Google and Zoom et al to filter out the worst effects of built-in laptop webcams, a replacement might be in order for the long haul ahead. With this in mind, El Reg's intrepid reviews desk looked at a pair of inexpensive Rapoo webcams in search …

  1. imanidiot Silver badge

    Really?

    "720p just doesn't cut it nowadays"

    In reality while using a webcam the other end of the conversation is probably looking at a highly compressed video image in a small window, not having your gob fill their entire monitor. Which makes it unlikely they would notice (or appreciate) much difference.

    1. Mage Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Really?

      Even 480p is good enough for a web cam. More important would be a zoom lens as a well as focus. You can't position a web cam for best field of view and most seem to have the wrong field of view to clip on a monitor or laptop screen frame.

      My laptop camera is fine but no use when I'm using an external monitor.

      I've also had web cameras that work fine in VLC or other applications but give a black screen on Viber or Zoom.

      But mostly we just use audio in calls. More reliable when people on dodgy WiFi or Mobile connections.

      1. Joe Drunk
        Windows

        Re: Really?

        Still don't get Millenials' obsession with video calls.

        At the beginning of lockdown we jumped aboard the Zoom bandwagon but it was too much of a hassle with those with bad WIFI/limited tech skills.

        I'm old fashioned. A dial-up conference bridge that we use for our weekly staff meetings, no tech knowledge or even PC needed, just a pad and pen. Don't need to see if you forgot to wear pants, hair is a mess, unshaven etc. Quick and painless, no software updates/guiding anyone through settings, why is my mic/camera not working, no, just no.

        I haven't done a video call in months, haven't missed it and neither do my colleagues.

    2. juice Silver badge

      Re: Really?

      > In reality while using a webcam the other end of the conversation is probably looking at a highly compressed video image in a small window

      I dunno - all those extra pixels make a big difference when staring at a panel which is about the size of a Royal Mail commemorative stamp!

      Especially when the person at the other end has applied some background masking filter to disguise what they've got sat on the bookshelves behind them ;)

      Admittedly, there's something potentially to be said for having more pixels - it gives the system more to work with when applying denoise and resampling filters. OTOH, both cameras probably have the same physically-sized CCD, which means that each individual sensor is smaller and therefore receives less light, so it's a choice of quantity vs quality...

      Also, and entirely anecdotally, I've heard that at least one big company in the area has given up on using video conferencing altogether, as their increasingly creaking VPN just doesn't have the bandwidth for it!

      1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

        Re: Really?

        I work 100% remote. I always turn on my camera, as sometimes I think i can come across as critical or sarky, when actually I'm just mucking about. Camera on, and people can tell.

        1. Cuddles Silver badge

          Re: Really?

          I'm pretty sure I come across critical and sarky, but I don't think a camera can fix that.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Really?

      Not to mention less of a bandwidth hog. Not everyone has bandwidth to sling 1080 to 4k down the pipe.

  2. msknight Silver badge

    I want manual DOF control

    ...and I need it in hardware. And so do a number of my colleagues who work in cramped home conditions and need to throw what's behind us out of focus, without suffering the junk that the automatic teams blurring does, because it cuts off our hair, our glasses and if we hold anything up to camera, that's blurred out as well by the software...but that requires control over the focus and aperture... and none of the webcams out there are giving that. Some are in software, but I'm Linux and no one supports us. *sob*

    1. Andy the ex-Brit

      Re: I want manual DOF control

      I use my Canon DSLR and the EOS Webcam Utility. Get a fast (wide aperature) lens and you can have great background blurring. Can probably get a good setup for only about £1000.

      1. msknight Silver badge

        Re: I want manual DOF control

        I didn't know that the EOS utility came for Linux. I'll check that out. But I don't want to tie up my DSLR as a webcam, and external power on my unit is a bit overkill. Far better that the webcam manufacturers come up with something that can do the job for <£100. It does seem that there's a market out here.

      2. DuncanL

        Re: I want manual DOF control

        Can probably get a good setup for only about £1000.

        Only?.....

  3. jollyboyspecial

    The dumbest thing about laptop cameras is that they are fixed to the laptop screen.

    When I'm at home I work on a single external monitor in addtion to the laptop screen. The smaller laptop screen is very much the backup. In the office I have two external screens and the laptop screen gets used for very little. As a result on video calls I spend very little time facing the camera. As such an external webcam is necessary in order to look as if I'm paying attention to the call.

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      My laptop, with its microscopic screen, trackpad and unusable "keyboard", stays closed on my desk. All my input devices hang off a powered USB extender: keyboard, network, camera, gaming headset for Teams. My external camera is an old Logitech which sits on top of one of my dual monitors and looks slightly down at me.

      Laptops are handy but the ergonomics are not suitable for long term use (at least for me, I don't know how others tolerate them)

  4. Tom Chiverton 1 Silver badge
    Linux

    Does it work with Linux ?

  5. DrBobK

    50 MegaPix madness at the other extreme...

    I hooked up a Canon 5DS SLR as a webcam during serious serious lockdown. It was just something to do to while away the time. A bit excessive, but you could control DOF and focal length. The image was very good, much better than my webcam, even when downscaled to 720.

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: 50 MegaPix madness at the other extreme...

      You are Gavin Free and I claim my £5

  6. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921 Bronze badge

    What?!?!? Looking at sample footage on Youtube, both of these webcams are absolutely rubbbish!

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      What? Looking at a compressed, downsampled, oversampled, decompressed, filtered, resampled video stream looks rubbish?

      Who would have thought....

      (Also: Can you suggest an alternative at that price point?)

      C'mon, it's a collection of stamp sized pictures in video conferences. It will just look rubbish anyway, so it matters sweet FA. Plus I know how my colleagues look like (ok, half of them, the team did grow in the last year), and some have a really shitty internet connection: as soon as more than two turn on their web cam connections are lost. So, no web cam (yeah, there's a few exceptions, but only like twice a year) video conferencing call-thingy. Audio is good enough.

      1. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921 Bronze badge

        At that price point, an old formerly "High end" phone with a webcam app would be much better.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    rapoo

    great, great brand name! But why worry, wait a month and you'll get identical sh*** called Weedoo, one month after that, Pachoo, so goes the life-cycle of those 'junk-brands'. Arguably, this imitates some aspects of nature, evolution and such...

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