This might come as a slight surprise, but until now Dell has never actually made a dedicated webcam. That’s all changing as webcam sales spike thanks to the pandemic, and with the Dell UltraSharp the company is clearly taking the new venture seriously.
The 4K HDR webcam not only touts impressive video quality, but also an infrared sensor to drive Windows Hello facial login, a proximity sensor that adds news security features, and AI auto-framing tech.
At the heart of the camera is a Sony STARVIS 4K image sensor, capable of capturing 4K video at 30 frames per second, or HD video at 60 frames. It also supports HDR to compensate in uneven lighting, and will do its best to reduce grain from the image when you’re in dimmer light, while auto-focus should keep you crisp no matter what.
The UltraSharp has a 90-degree field of view, but you also have the option to crop in to 78 or 65 degrees if you want a tighter shot. An auto-framing mode sees the camera crop and pan to keep you in the centre of the shot even if you move around – the same tech we’ve seen in the recent iPad Pros and Amazon’s Echo Show smart displays.
Dell has also included a proximity sensor, which gives you the option of having your PC sign you out whenever the webcam you’re no longer close enough for the webcam to detect you. The included IR sensor means this is also compatible with Windows Hello for facial recognition login – though the webcam will work with macOS too.
As impressive as those tech specs are, Dell appears to have put just as much thought into the UltraSharp’s design as its video capabilities.
The camera itself is a slick cylinder, encased in anodised aluminium. Unlike most webcams it comes with a physical lens cap – ideal for privacy – which magnetically attaches to the lens. Cleverly, when you want to use the webcam you can simply attach the lens cap to the back of the body to keep it safe.
The magnets don’t end there though. The camera also attaches magnetically to its mount, which means it’s quick and easy to take it off, and to move it to the included tripod mount, with no screws involved.
All of this is pretty impressive stuff, but the UltraSharp does have one major downside: there’s no microphone. Dell told us that it wanted to prioritise video quality over audio, and believes that most users will be happy with headphones anyway, or their laptop’s own mic. It does mean desktop users won’t be able to hop onto a quick video call without grabbing their headset though.
The other challenge is the price – the Dell UltraSharp is available from today for £149/$199, which isn’t cheap for a webcam. Check out our guide to the best webcams we’ve reviewed for more options.