A good external webcam will have all the features you need and serve up a sharp and well-exposed image that will stand out when you next join a video conference with all your colleagues.
EPOS is well known for making an excellent range of office headsets and speakerphone. Now the Danish company has launched a premium consumer-grade webcam with excellent specifications that can produce polished video and audio wherever you connect.
The EPOS Expand Vision 1 is beautifully compact and well-made with a built-in privacy shutter that can be activated by turning a knurled ring on the top of the webcam. It has a white LED on the front to show when the webcam is hot and there’s a stereo microphone for picking up the user’s voice.
At just 43 x 58mm x 29mm and weighing 83.5g, Expand Vision 1 is compact enough to perch on the top of even the smallest laptop screen or the largest desktop monitor. It’s clever built-in stand includes a tripod thread so the Vision 1 can be mounted on a tripod or camera grip. The folding adjustable stand is flexible and sturdy enough to place the webcam almost anywhere.
With an image resolution of 3840 x 2160, Vision 1 offers 4K images and a refresh rate of 50 or 60Hz for a low flicker output. To test the webcam, I called my brother on Skype and, without any prompting from me whatsoever, he immediately commented on how clear my video image was. That speaks volumes to me.
Most web conferencing apps like Zoom or Skype don’t support 4K yet, so the image from the Vision 1 will be transmitted in HD. However, having a 4K image sensor in the webcam is helpful because the EPOS Connect software used to fine-tune the Vision 1 offers a choice of wide, default or close-up views. This means you can zoom in without losing resolution, something you can’t do with a 1080p or a 720p webcam. And when video conferencing software does support 4K resolution, the Vision 1 will be ready to take advantage of that extra clarity.
The EPOS Connect software offers plenty of customization options for the Vision 1, including an easy way to adjust brightness and color temperature. An advanced settings tab provides a range of fine-tuning and a choice of anti-flicker settings at 50 and 60Hz. Using the EPOS Connect software, it’s possible to tweak the perfect image, but 90% of the time the auto settings will work just fine.
The image quality from the Vision 1 is impeccable. Even at lower light levels, it’s relatively grain free. However, to get the best from this premium webcam, it’s worth using some proper lighting, such as a ring light or an LED panel.
The sound quality from the microphones built into the Vision 1 is excellent. They are omnidirectional mics so they can pick up a bit more room noise than a cardioid model, but if you want a closer-mic sound, you can always select a different microphone to use for your audio source.
One thing I did notice with the Vision 1 was how it runs at quite a high temperature. The webcam gets hot in use or when idling with the privacy shutter open. It didn’t seem to affect the image quality, but it’s unusual for a webcam to generate heat even in use and maybe has something to do with the 4K sensor.
Verdict: The EPOS Expand Vision 1 is a premium webcam with a superbly sharp image and a good piece of software for customizing its settings. It’s worth using good lighting with the webcam as results at lower light levels can be slightly disappointing, especially if there’s a strong backlight such as a window behind the user. That said, with the 4K sensor, the Vision 1 produces wonderfully sharp images that stand out on conference calls. I particularly like the physical privacy shutter and the white LED that indicates when the camera is live. If you want to upgrade your laptop’s webcam or add one to a desktop computer, the Expand Vision 1 is about as good as it gets. It’s a compact and portable webcam and EPOS even includes a handy zippered case and a thick 1.2m cable for connecting the Vision 1 to its host computer. Recommended.
Pricing & Availability: The EPOS Expand Vision 1 4K webcam is available now and costs $239 / £179 / €209.
More info: www.eposaudio.com
- Weight: 83.5g.
- Dimensions (W x H x L): 58.4 x 29.4 x 42.5mm.
- Microphone: 2 omni-directional with noise canceling.
- Microphone coverage: 180°.
- Effective microphone range: 3m.
- Microphone frequency response: 150 – 7,500Hz.
- UC Certified for Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Chromebook and Google Meet.
- Operating system: Windows 10 or later and macOS.
- CPU: Sigmaster.
- Supply voltage: 5V.
- Power consumption: 2.5W
- Camera: 4K wide angle.
- Lens type: 7-element low distortion lens.
- Video resolution: Up to 2160p (UHD) @ 60fps
- Zoom: 8x digital.
- Pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ): ePTZ.
- Field of view (FOV): Up to 90˚.
- Video standards: MJPEG, H.264, YUV.
- Focus: Fixed up to 3.5m.
- Mounting: Integrated clip with ¼-inch thread.