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Fed up with your laptop's camera? Opal unveils clip-on 'world's smallest webcam'

With a large, mirrorless sensor and six-element glass lens, the Tadpole webcam is a sure bet against the built-in camera your laptop uses.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer

If you attend a lot of Zoom meetings or you like to join in on family video events, you've probably experienced just how bad your laptop's camera really is. Rarely do those built-in cameras perform well. That could mean poor video or audio, which could wreck an otherwise joyous or productive time.

Fortunately, there's a solution for that. The company is Opal and they've created the Tadpole webcam that attaches easily to your laptop and connects via USB. 

Also: The best webcams you can buy

The camera uses a 48-megapixel Sony IMX582 Exmor RS sensor capable of 1080p video with an f1.8 six-element glass lens to produce accurate color. The camera actually shoots in 4k but down-samples it to 1080p, so it's compatible with most video chat software. The Tadpole has an adjustable clip, so it will fit on most laptop displays. A premium, woven cable is used to avoid tangles and make it more flexible. As far as size is concerned, the Tadpole might remind you of the old iPod Shuffle -- it measures just 1.2 inches squared. Opal calls it the  "world's smallest webcam ever made."

The Tadpole works on MacOS (Mountain Lion or later) and Windows (7 or later) and allows for simple call muting with a tap on the USB connector.

As far as sound is concerned, the Tadpol uses a directional VisiMic, which only captures the sound it can "see." Any sound outside the camera's field of vision is not picked up or recorded. This isn't done with filtering, AI, or other gimmicks…just physics. This also means the Tadpole will pick up less ambient noise, so your sound will be much clearer for calls and meetings.

Also: Too many meetings? With Zoom Clips, you can send a short video instead

There's no software to install for the Tadpole, as it is truly plug-and-play. MacOS users can, however, download an optional piece of software (Opal Composer) that allows for the customization of the Tadpole settings. Windows users can install OBS Studio to get more from the camera.

When you purchase the device, you receive everything you need to get going. You can also purchase a handy carrying case, so you can more safely take your camera on the go.

If this sounds like the perfect upgrade for your laptop, you can purchase a Tadpole now (in black or white) for $175. The carrying case is $25.

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