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‘Hello’ to a Better Camera Angle

The next big update for Windows 10, coming to your computer next month or in May, will feature the ability to switch between two webcams. For many that will be toggling a built-in laptop camera and a second camera mounted on a separate monitor. It will help you make better eye contact during meetings. But remember, not all devices are created equal.

The “most equal” device for Windows Hello is the Microsoft Surface, which I use regularly along with another computer and multiple monitors. Its built-in camera is high resolution, but like with all built-in cameras, you get locked into a single direction and camera angle. If I’m video conferencing with a client through my Surface and need to look at data on another monitor, we lose eye contact. We all know eye contact is critical for effective personal communication. It’s why we are more aware of it now that the pandemic has forced us to work from remote locations.

By placing a second camera on the monitor I use for the extra data I need, I’m able to make better eye contact with the others on the video conference.  With Windows Hello, the biometrics make it possible to use facial recognition to essentially “toggle” the camera I’m looking into directly. It can all be configured in the settings for my Surface and a Hello-compatible external camera. It’s all done through the Device Manager settings in Windows.

The key is to make sure your external camera is compatible with Hello. It gives you a plug-n-play setup, and once it’s configured, you can use its facial recognition to sign onto other devices connected through Hello. It’s faster and avoids the need to enter multiple passwords. The benefit of that, too, is that you can use a single, secure routine for logging in on everything. (Remember, one of the benefits of new technology we always push is eliminating the need for passwords.)

If you don’t have a computer or device that works with Windows Hello, you can still use multiple cameras or an external camera with Zoom, Microsoft Teams or other platforms. Most external webcams can be mounted on a monitor – or even a large flatscreen TV – and connected to your computer. A USB connection is most common, and we recommend using the fastest USB connection available. If you have Bluetooth capability in the device you’re using for your video conference, that will give you more flexibility in placing your camera. Either way, you also have the option to mount your webcam on a tripod, with Bluetooth most likely extending your range.

External webcams with Hello and Bluetooth compatibility are readily available for anywhere from $30 to $70. You should look for 1080p resolution because it will work much better for anyone who’s watching on a large TV. Just think of what you like to view when you’re watching a show or streaming content on a large TV. You can even go to 4K resolution, but for most of us, 1080p does very well.

If you don’t have Windows Hello, you can still connect an external camera – even with Bluetooth if your computer or device supports it. You’ll need to go into your Zoom settings and select the camera you want to use. Most people use the built-in camera as their default device. (It’s the same with their microphone and speakers.) However, you have several options with both an external camera and your built-in camera. These include setting the video ratio and – if your camera supports more adjustments – the ability to set a closer (zoom) or wider viewing angle.

Again, not all devices are created equal, so you’ll need to live with the technology you have or upgrade.

We can help you determine what hardware will provide the videoconferencing capabilities you want and help you configure your hardware to maximize its capabilities. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to discuss your needs, your current technology and your budget. They’re all factors in making your system as “equal” as you want it to be.

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