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Webcam Shopping Guide

Whether you want to keep in touch with long-distance friends or family, webcams are the next best thing to being there live in person. But with dozens of webcam brands on the market, it can be rather difficult to decide on one that fits your specific wants and needs.

Whether it's a particular model you're searching for or a certain price range you want to stick to, Dealio is here to help you eliminate your shopping frustrations. From Logitech and HP to Microsoft and Rocketfish, our detailed webcam shopping guide will help you determine what models, features and designs are most important to you. To top it off, we will also teach you how to compare webcam prices between the hundreds of online stores that carry them.

Why a WebCam?

Although there are countless uses for webcams, some of the most popular functions include:

  • Live video conferencing with co-workers or colleagues
  • Recording video clips to send to family and friends
  • Chatting with family or friends in real time
  • Taking digital photos without using an expensive digital camera


Fortunately, there aren't an overwhelming number of features to consider when shopping for the best price webcam. However, there are several important features to consider when you are making your purchase.

(1) Video Capture Speed

Video capture speed is measured in the number of frames that are recorded each second. The more frames per second, the greater the image quality. Even the most affordable webcams can record up to 30 frames per second, which will provide a great picture quality.

(2) Modem Speed

Webcams take up a lot of bandwidth, so if your modem is not fast enough to accommodate the transfer of information, the picture may appear choppy or slow. Most of today's computers come equipped with at least a 56K modem, but even this will not enable the maximum performance of your webcam. If optimal picture clarity is to be achieved, you will need a high-speed connection like broadband or DSL.

(3) Still image resolution

Still image resolution is measured in both megapixels and by the ratio of both the horizontal and vertical pixels used to capture an image.

With megapixels, the resolution of a picture is calculated by the number of dots or "pixels" that make up an image taken by your webcam. The greater the number of megapixels, the better quality images your webcam can take.

  • 1 MP: good for taking pictures for the Web (the best value webcams are usually 1 MB)
  • 2MP: good for taking 5x7 pictures
  • 3MP: good for taking 8x10 pictures
  • 4MP: good for taking 20x30 pictures

Still image resolution is measured as the number of horizontal and vertical pixels used to capture an image. The goal is to find a webcam with the highest still image resolution as described below

  • 640 X 480: good for taking pictures for the Web (the best price webcams are usually 640 X 480)
  • 1024 X 768: good for taking 5x7 or 4x6 pictures
  • 1600 X 1200: good for taking 8x10 pictures

(4) Video Image Resolution

When judging video image resolution, keep in mind that the greater the image resolution, the better the picture quality you can achieve. Webcams can typically capture still images at up to 1.3 megapixels and some of the most common webcam resolutions are 320 x 240 and 640 x 480.

(5) Connectors

The connector is what you use to attach your webcam to your computer. Nearly all top of the line webcams use a USB connector to plug into your computer. If you have a computer that does not support a USB drive, you will need to find a webcam that includes a parallel or serial port connector.

(6) Compatibility Requirements

When deciding what kind of webcam you should purchase, it's important to choose one that you know is compatible with your computer system. For example, if your computer is running Windows 98 or Windows XP, you will need to make sure the webcam is capable of operating on either of these systems.

(7) Operating System Compatibility

Although a lesser consideration, make sure the webcam supports your operating system. Webcams usually support both PCs and Macs; however, it's important to verify this before you make a purchase.