A super-cheap webcam that doesn't suck

We take a quick look at a webcam that's cheap, easy to setup, and works quite well. If you need a budget webcam, this is one we use and recommend.
Written by David Gewirtz, Senior Contributing Editor

It's cheap, but it works.

Back when the pandemic began, webcams -- especially Logitech name-brand webcams -- were very hard to buy. I have one in my office, but my wife needed one for Zoom meetings. Unable to source one from Amazon or Best Buy at the time, I unplugged my trusty Logitech C920 from my Octoprint 3D printer server and donated it to my wife.

The pandemic webcam drought didn't last forever, and we recently went online to see what was available. While my first thought was to get another C920, it was more than $80. One of the first search results was the "Hrayzan Webcam 1080P, HD Webcam with Microphone, PC Laptop Desktop USB Webcams with 110 Degree Wide Angle, Computer Web Camera with Rotatable Clip." Yeah, that's its name on Amazon.

The salient facts about this off-brand device are these: It came with a flip-down privacy cover, a teeny tripod, a 1/4-20 screw mount, and an adjustable mounting bracket, all for under $20. We bought it for $18.99 a month or so ago, and my wife's been quite satisfied with the audio and image quality. It won't win any awards for video quality, but seriously, this is Zoom. It's more than good enough.

Good enough that my wife told me today she was ordering another one for the media center computer. This time, it was down $15.99.

It works. She plugged it into her Mac mini and there was no setup, no drivers, no fuss involved. It just worked. This means I can take back the C920 and use it with Octoprint. Since Octoprint runs on a Linux distro, camera configuration can be a bit more fussy. I'd prefer to run the known quantity on my Raspberry Pi server and go with Apple's Mac driver compatibility magic for Zoom video.

That said, when the new $15.99 Hrayzan arrives, I will plug it into Octoprint and see if it works. Why not, right? Then I'll return it to my wife for her use.

Oh, and my wife wanted to tell you this: "I have discovered Zoom backgrounds. I am invincible." She loves her Zoom backgrounds.

Also: The complete Zoom guide: From basic help to advanced tricks

So what about you? Is your special someone an invincible force of nature? Have you tried super-cheapo webcams? What are you using for an optimal Zoom?

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