While businesses decide when to return to the office, many employees continue to work remotely. Part of remote work often entails hours on video or audio calls, but the webcams and microphones built into our laptops aren't ideal.
There are plenty of options for high-quality webcams, and Opal is trying to outdo them all.
The startup has been accepting reservations for the past few months, signing up 16,000 people so far. Starting Tuesday, people with an invite code can finally place an order for the $300 Opal C1 webcam.
Opal's goal with the C1 is to give users a DSLR-like quality and look, along with the sound equivalent of an expensive dedicated microphone.
The camera uses a 4K Sony sensor and is powered by an Intel processor that, according to Opal, allows the camera to process four trillion operations per second. It's that processing power combined with an aperture of f/1.8 that allows Opal's software to create a bokeh (blurry background effect) around you. It's similar to how portrait mode works on most modern smartphones, only Opal is doing it in real-time during a video call.
For now, the Opal software, which is still a work in progress, will only be available for Mac users. Opal plans on adding Windows support "later next year." The software is considered to be in beta by the company, with some of the advertised features like noise suppression currently missing.
Opal is actively working on the software and will provide users with updates as new features are available. There are plans for a gesture control feature to pause or start your video, as well as coaching to help you improve your speaking skills and engagement during a call.
I have been testing the C1 for about a week, using it for video calls and even to record the audio for the latest episode of Jason Squared about electric cars. On most of the video calls I've joined since setting up the C1, someone has made a comment about the look of my video feed being clear and crisp -- and I agree. The C1 looks as good as my $800 Sony ZV-1 camera.
When Opal adds more features, we'll see if the startup delivers the same high-quality audio experience as it does with the product's video.
You can sign up to receive an invite for the Opal C1 right now.
If you've signed up for an invite and get an Opal C1, be sure to let us know what you think about the experience in the comments below.