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HomeTechnologyInsta360 Link review: The Rolls-Royce of USB webcams

Insta360 Link review: The Rolls-Royce of USB webcams

When I test webcams, I often play with the lighting in the room, both ambient and artificial. I do my best to get rid of autofocus and white balance to see how the webcam adjusts and responds. I leaned back even further in my chair, dangling like a bowling pin. I’m getting more oohs and ahhs from co-workers for how well Link refocuses on my face Surprised to an extent. I’ve tested a lot of webcams with poor autofocus, but the Link doesn’t. It was able to focus on my face as close as 4 inches (10 cm) to the lens, which is closer than I need to get close to a webcam.

The Link can zoom up to four times, but it’s a digital zoom. This means that zooming in will create a more pixelated picture the closer it is to a subject. However, this is a 4K webcam, so by supporting such a high resolution, you can zoom in a bit and still maintain a sharp image. On the high end, the Link supports 4K resolutions at 24, 25 and 30 frames per second. For less bandwidth or a faster frame rate so the video looks smoother, you can downscale to 1080p at 50 or 60 frames per second, among other options.

Twenty-four frames per second may sound redundant when 25 is also an option, but it’s the gold standard for filmmaking, so capturing at this frame rate is an absolute must for any Ideal for anyone who records himself on camera for later upload to YouTube or for use in film projects. There’s also support for High Dynamic Range (HDR), which helps check bright lights in a frame without under- or over-exposing. It’s optional, but only works in 1080p or 720p at 24, 25 or 30 frames per second.

Most webcams come with really bad mics, but the dual noise canceling mics Insta360 Link made me sound pretty good (according to my co-workers). That said, I still prefer a standalone USB mic like the Blue Snowball Ice.

There is no physical privacy shutter, but the Link will automatically pivot its gimbaled head down and away from you, preventing hackers and weirdos from peeping uninvited your webcam. This happens 10 seconds after the webcam is no longer in use by the conferencing application. When you start a video meeting, Link resumes and wakes up to start streaming again (it supports Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and more).


Photo: Insta360

question? Three hundred dollars is a lot of money for a webcam. It also has competition. There’s the Obsbot Tiny 4K, another PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) webcam that does many of the same tricks (albeit with less polish) for a lower price. The excellent Logitech Brio 4K webcam is usually under $150 and delivers almost as good image quality without all the motion.

The question is whether you need automatic tracking and gesture control. If the answer is no, then even the slightly better video quality of the Link won’t be enough to justify spending almost twice as much as a webcam like the Brio, which is already an expensive webcam. For $50, you can get a powerful, yet simple webcam.

If you record videos a lot, or if you do virtual demos on a regular basis – or if you just want to film your dance practice for video – then Link is a great choice. It solidifies the basics (great video quality) with a suite of nifty extras, such as auto-tracking, gestures, and what I call a privacy dip. It’s not a bargain, but it’s the best.



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