A webcam to make eye contact
If you work with people virtually, a webcam like the Center Cam can help you build deeper connections and better relationships. It allows you to observe their non-verbal communication, or you can use the Center Cam with a teleprompter, while maintaining eye contact with your audience. The Center Cam is ideal if you’re looking for a simple, easy-to-use webcam and typically use a headset or other external microphone during calls.
- 1080p HD webcam with built-in microphone
- Clips on the monitor
- Video chat with eye contact
- Mark: Central cam
- Resolution: HD (1080p)
- Spin: Yes, any with flexible tube
- Wide angle lens: 65 degree HFOV aspect ratio
- Link: USB-A (2.0) or USB-C with included adapter
- Integrated lighting: n / A
- Opening: f2.1
- Frames per second: 30fps
- Assembly: Adjustable mounting clip
- Compatibility: macOS, Windows, Android, Linux
- Video calls with realistic eye contact
- Easy to install, plug-and-play
- Flexible positioning
- Poor audio quality with built-in microphone
- You have to manually switch the microphone to your preferred choice
- You have to manually focus the camera
Online meetings make it hard to look each other in the eye. If only there was an easy way to look at the camera and someone’s face at the same time. Enter Center Cam, the snake cam-turned-HD webcam that clips onto the top of your monitor and lets you adjust its long neck so you can position it right between your counterpart’s eyes.
It’s not pretty, maybe a bit awkward, but it works. Let’s take a closer look at this contraption, shall we?
What’s in the box?
The Center Cam comes in a basic cardboard box with minimal plastic wrapping. The webcam itself is packaged in a box inside the box, which also contains the owner’s manual, an end-user warranty/license agreement, and a USB-A (female) to USB-C adapter (male). The monitor clip rests in the paper mold that fills the rest of the main box.
How to set up and use your Center Cam
Installation is quick and easy. First, thread the USB cable through the two large holes at the top of the clip, along with part of the bendable flexible tube. Fortunately, both sides of the clip are identical, so you can’t go wrong here.
Next, hold the Center Cam in front of your monitor to check how low you want the webcam to go, adjust the tube accordingly, then snap it into the clip hooks on the front and back. Finally, clip the camera to the top of your screen.
Center Cam is plug-and-play, so your system should automatically detect the webcam once you plug it in. It should work on Windows, macOS, Android, and Linux. You can either plug your Center Cam directly into a USB-A port on your computer or use the included USB-A to USB-C adapter. If your computer or the video conferencing tool of your choice does not automatically detect the camera, be sure to install any pending updates and restart your computer.
Before starting a video call, remove the lens cap, adjust the position of the webcam, and make sure the camera is in focus. This is best done in the audio and video configuration screen of your video calling tool of choice. You can adjust the focus of the Center Cam by loosening the locking nut at the base of the lens, then turning the lens to focus, when you’re done, tighten the locking nut again.
Center Cam in action: what does it look like?
We tested the Center Cam in a series of video calls using Google Meet and Zoom. Both tools automatically detected the Center Cam webcam and microphone.
On our first call, the video quality was good, but the caller had trouble hearing us. After the call, we noticed that Meet had defaulted to using the Center Cam microphone, instead of our Bluetooth headset mic. In subsequent meetings, we manually changed the microphone. Zoom didn’t have this issue and chose the default Bluetooth headphones. Due to the disappointing audio quality of Center Cam’s built-in microphone, we strongly recommend using a third-party microphone or headset.
The Center Cam’s HD resolution offers decent video quality with 2.1MP (16:9, 1920×1080 pixels) and 30FPS. It’s definitely not the best in class, and it appears to have a security camera lens, but it gets the job done. It’s a better webcam than the one built into our laptop, which we confirmed using the Windows camera app.
The flexible tube means you can easily adjust its angle and position on screen, which we think worked quite well. It doesn’t look as sleek as a webcam blending into the edge of your screen, but if you want that eye contact, that’s currently the trade-off you’ll have to make.
We couldn’t test this, but we’ve heard that Center Cam isn’t ideal for use with Microsoft Teams, due to the way Teams handles video chats.
Why would you need a central camera?
Eye contact is important for establishing human connections. Ian Foster, the founder of the Cam Centre, experienced this firsthand when the pandemic hit while he was studying to become a social work counsellor. The rapport he had established with his subjects began to fade when he had to replace his counseling sessions with video calls. Ian identified the lack of eye contact as the culprit and then worked out a solution.
Although you may consciously stare at your webcam during a videoconference, you will never be able to fully see your counterpart if you continue to stare at the camera throughout your conversation. Looking through your webcam lens, you miss facial landmarks and the few bits of visible body language. Observing these details can be helpful in understanding people, and when you can’t meet in person, it’s one of the few ways to build trust.
Our opinion on the central camera: should you buy it?
If you’re a teacher, coach, speaker, therapist, or salesperson, a webcam like the Center Cam can help you build deeper connections and better relationships with your clients. It also makes it easier for you to observe their non-verbal communication. You can even use Center Cam with a teleprompter and maintain eye contact with your audience, although this works best in a one-on-one situation.
The Center Cam is ideal if you’re looking for a simple, easy-to-use webcam and typically use a headset or other external microphone during calls. If you already have a good webcam or need something with excellent video quality, maybe even a camera with a good quality built-in microphone, you should consider alternative products instead.
Center Cam Alternatives
PlexiCam is a clear acrylic webcam mount that allows you to position your camera anywhere on your screen. It adapts to any monitor because it simply hangs from its top edge. The shelf containing the webcam offers enough space to accommodate larger cameras, such as a DSLR. With the PlexiCam Pro edition, you can even mount an LED light to enhance your lighting. Although PlexiCam is a bit cheaper than Center Cam, you will need to provide your own webcam and microphone.
End of 2021, Dell announced Concept Paris, a barrel-shaped 1080p wireless webcam that magnetically attaches anywhere on the screen (Dell compatible). Unfortunately, this product has not yet been released. And while under-display cameras are gaining traction on Android phones, we don’t expect to see them on desktop monitors; we also don’t think it would help with eye contact. For now, you’re pretty much left with Center Cam, Plexi Cam, or DIY your own solution.
Q: Does Center Cam have a microphone?
Yes, but the audio quality of the Center Cam’s microphone is questionable. We advise against using it.
Q: How do I place my webcam in the middle of the screen?
You can buy a Center Cam, which clips to the top of your screen, or you can create a custom mount for your existing webam, which should work just as well. Just make sure you don’t scratch your screen.
Q: Is there a monitor with a camera in the middle of the screen?
No. There are solutions that allow you to mount the camera in the center of your screen, but we haven’t seen any yet. monitor supplied with a webcam which is not integrated into the top or bottom edge of the monitor.
Q: Can I replace the lens that came with the Center Cam?
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