Insta360 Link Review: Rolls Royce of USB Webcams

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When testing a webcam I often play with the lighting in the room, ambient and artificial. I’ll do my best to throw in the autofocus and white balance to see how the webcam adjusts and responds. I slumped back in my chair and wobbled like a bowling pin. I found more oh And Ahahaha From my colleagues marveling at how effortlessly the link focused on my face. I’ve tried many webcams, but not the link, it’s painfully automatic. My face can focus as close as 4 inches (10 cm) to the lens, which is closer than I want to get to a webcam.

The link can zoom up to four times, but it’s digital zoom. That means the closer the zoom is to a subject, the more pixelated the image will be. However, this is a 4K webcam, so supporting such a high resolution, you can zoom in fairly well and still maintain a sharp image. At the top end, Link supports 4K resolution at 24, 25 and 30 frames per second. For less bandwidth or a faster frame rate, which makes the video smoother, you can downgrade to 1080p at 50 or 60 frames per second, among other choices.

24 frames per second may sound like 25 seconds, but it’s the gold standard for film production, so anyone shooting at this frame rate will want to be able to later upload to YouTube or a cinematic project. There’s also support for high dynamic range (HDR), which helps keep bright lights in your frame without overexposing or overexposing the image. It’s optional, but it only works at 1080p or 720p at 24, 25 or 30 frames per second.

Most webcams come with pretty good microphones, but the dual noise-canceling microphones on the Insta360 Link make me sound pretty good (as do my colleagues). That said, I still prefer a standalone USB microphone like the Blue Snowball.

There’s no physical privacy shutter, but the link keeps intruders and snoopers away from you by scrolling down to prevent uninvited viewing of your webcam. This happens after 10 seconds if the webcam is not used by the conference app. When you start a video meeting, the link will gain access and be activated to start streaming again (supports Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and more).

Turn off the signal

Photo: Insta360

The problem? Three hundred bucks is a lot of money for a webcam. It also has competition. There’s another PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) webcam, the Obsbot Tiny 4K, which has many of the same tricks (although it’s a little more polished). The advanced Logitech Brio 4K webcam is often under $150 and offers excellent image quality regardless of motion.

The question is whether you need automatic tracking and gesture control. If the answer is no, then even the Link’s slightly better video quality isn’t enough to justify spending nearly twice as much for a webcam like the Brio. You can get a great simple webcam for just $50.

If you often record video, or regularly give virtual presentations—or just want to record your dance routines—the Link is a great choice. It nailed the basics (excellent video quality) with refined extras like automatic tracking, gestures, and privacy intrusion. Not a bargain but the best.

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