Is a 4k Webcam Worth it for Video Conferencing?

Author: Gina Cunsolo

high-quality conferencing yamaha uc

Is a 4k Webcam Worth It for Video Conferencing?

If you work from home, communicate with someone who does or have regular meetings with those in offices across town or across the country, chances are a video conference is a regular part of your week.

And while audio quality, lighting and backgrounds are all issues to consider, there’s one component that differentiates a video conference from other types of communication: the webcam.

Webcams were originally developed in the early 1990s, and since then their resolution has steadily increased, from 320 x 240 pixels to 1920 × 1080 (aka 1080p) and even higher. Today, a webcam resolution of 3840 × 2160 (4K resolution) is becoming increasingly common. Additionally, most good webcams capture images at a rate of 30 frames per second, with some capable of a 60 fps rate or more.

Of course, higher resolution means higher cost, which raises the question, “Is a 4k webcam worth it?”

How to determine if you should get a 4k webcam

As with many discretionary purchases, the answer to the question of “Do I need a 4k webcam” is “It all depends.” Issues to consider are your budget, the type of monitor others on a video conference may have, the computer you may be using and the importance you place on those video conferences.

If you’re on a limited budget and you’re mainly on video calls with family members or others in the office, for example, you may not need a 4K webcam. A webcam with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels (720 p) is perfectly serviceable for casual conferences and can be found for around $30, while a 1080p webcam can be had for around $40.

high-quality-conferncing-yamaha-uc.jpgAn entry-level 4K webcam starts around $70 or so. If money is no object, a top-of-the-line 4K webcam offering 60 fps will set you back $250 or more.

Before spending money on a 4K webcam, though, you should do some due diligence. Most popular conferencing software platforms offer a maximum resolution of 1080p or even less, so you wouldn’t see much improvement in video quality when using a 4K webcam. It’s the same if others on the conference are using monitors with 1080p resolution or lower.

A 4K webcam can use as much as 23-35 Mbps of bandwidth, more than 10 times that of a 1080p webcam, so depending on bandwidth availability and the number of devices on the network, a 4K webcam can result in poorer video quality than can be had with a 1080p webcam.

So is a 4K webcam worth it? Again, it all depends. If you’re using one of the common video conferencing platforms, you’re not going to see an improvement in video quality with a 4K webcam. On the other hand, if you frequently record videos, you’re sure others on the call have the resources and equipment to benefit from 4K, or you just want to be prepared for the future, by all means, invest in a 4K webcam.

Wide-angle webcam technology    

Although most webcams are designed for a single user, there are situations where you may want to consider a more specialized device.

When it comes to group conferences, for example, using a wide-angle webcam can help capture the entire team. For huddle rooms or small conference rooms, a Webcam for TV combined with Yamaha Unified Communications’ ESB-1090 Enterprise Sound Bar can help enhance the proceedings.

Audio is an important consideration as well. Yamaha UC also offers a variety of conference phones and microphone systems that can help ensure participants are heard clearly. For large conference rooms, Yamaha UC’s ADECIA family of products includes microphones and speaker systems that provide a conference experience that’s the next best thing to having everyone in the same room.

Video conferencing has taken its place as a standard part of business communication. If you’re seeking advice about the products that can help create an outstanding videoconferencing solution, reach out to the experts at Yamaha UC.