For those lucky enough to have transitioned to working from home full-time during the ongoing pandemic, a good webcam — better than what’s built into most laptop’s screens — is a must-have accessory, and Insta360 just raised the ‘good webcam’ bar even further with the 4K Link, which uses a three-axis gimbal to always keep users perfectly framed, plus some other fun tricks.
The company isn’t yet a household name, but for quite a few years, Insta360 has been giving companies like DJI and GoPro some much needed competition when it comes to action cams and 360-degree cameras. Today, Insta360 announced its first dedicated webcam, which borrows some of the tech from the company’s other imaging products.
Reminiscent of the tiny DJI Pocket 2 handheld stabilised video camera, the Insta360 Link is instead designed to be perched atop a computer monitor or laptop screen, where it stares at the user with its most compelling feature: a surprisingly large half-inch 4K sensor. The company promises the sensor will provide more detail, better dynamic range including an HDR mode to account for bright objects in frame like an outside window, and improved low-light performance, which is especially important as the Link doesn’t include LED lighting of its own. The camera operates at 30fps, but a free accompanying app lets users adjust its frame rate, resolution, white balance, and exposure to account for even the wonkiest of lighting situations.
There’s also a pair of built-in microphones with noise-cancelling capabilities, but the camera’s most unique innovation is a three-axis gimbal, which is used here to track the position of the person in front of the camera and keep them perfectly framed at all times, instead of just keeping the camera stabilised. When users are on a call but out of reach of their computer, the Insta360 Link can also recognise and respond to hand gestures to activate features like its AI-powered tracking, or simply zooming in and out.
The moving camera facilitates other unique shooting modes as well. For easily referencing a document on a desk, the Insta360 Link can point straight down and even make perspective adjustments using its software, so what users on the other end of a video call see doesn’t look distorted. That software also powers a whiteboard mode where the camera can recognise and zoom in on a whiteboard so it’s easier for others on a call to see what’s being written. For those streaming to social media, the Insta360 Link can even rotate itself 90-degrees and capture video in portrait mode better suited to smartphone consumption. Instead of a lens cap, the webcam will automatically point itself down to block the lens for increased privacy after 10 seconds of inactivity.
The Insta360 Link is available for pre-order now from the company’s website, but given all of its extra functionality, it comes with a hefty $US300 ($416) price tag.