Why are laptop webcams still using technology from the twentieth century?

Why are laptop webcams still using technology from the twentieth century?

This launch raises why laptop owners still have to use VGA cameras when Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Google Meet have become household names. Even smartphones such as the Infinix Zero 8 have a 48MP resolution selfie camera. So why is it only the laptops that are lagging?

The MagicBook V14, a new laptop from Honor, a Chinese computer company, is the first laptop to offer users a 5-megapixel camera with a 90-degree ultra-wide camera angle. Only a few products, like as the HP Elite Dragonfly Max business laptop, have a 5MP camera, but they’re almost always 2-in-1 convertible notebooks, and there aren’t many of them on the market.

VGA is a practically obsolete and bygone resolution of just 640×480 pixels. So while it was pretty popular in the 1990s, it is quite a surprise that it found its way into the 21st century as well – in the Lenovo V17-IIL. The pandemic has tremendously increased the use of laptop webcams. Still, unfortunately, companies do not seem invested in improving the quality of the humble webcam, one of the bestselling computer products of the past two years. A sample survey of 50 laptops on sale – including well-known companies such as Dell, Lenovo, and HP – did not provide a satisfactory result.

The maximum resolution for the laptop webcam at Dell was only 720p, and this one was for its most expensive laptop, Dell Precision 7760 Data Science Workstation. Lenovo, Apple, and HP also presented similar results.

Surprisingly, the HD webcam is relatively standard for a laptop launched in 2021, despite the outdated and antiquated technology it uses. So the question is, why are companies not interested in a change?

Before the pandemic, webcams were unnecessary for most laptops since meetings were conducted in person, and video conferencing was done primarily on smartphones and in meeting rooms. This shift is why most vendors stuck to the HD technology, shrinking it to create ultra-portable laptops. Some, such as the Honor, decided to camouflage the webcam completely in a popup key on the keyboard. Some like Asus went even further and wholly scrapped off the webcam altogether.

Another factor to consider is the physics that goes into the making of laptops. For example, phones tend to be thicker than laptop lids, and the laptop webcam module is usually horizontal. So, until the demand for laptop webcams shoots up drastically, the transition is unlikely to happen.

Huawei and Honor are the only two laptop companies that have put the webcam into a popup key, but users have not received the move well, thanks to the fixed camera angle. Other alternative solutions could include a thicker bezel, under-display, or punch hole cameras.

However, it is eventually the consumers’ decision to vote wisely for enhancements to the laptop webcams. While some have dared to step out of their comfort zones and try something new with smartphones, the question is, could the same be done for laptops?

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