Alogic Iris webcam review: Good image but needs more control


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The Alogic Iris webcam provides decent 1080p video feed and noise-canceling microphones for meetings, but in its simplicity, it could offer more control to its users.

The global pandemic has fostered the need for computer users to get a webcam. Whether for professional Zoom calls or FaceTime calls with loved ones, a webcam has become an indispensable kit.

However, not all webcams are built equal. While you can get away with a 720p webcam in older MacBook Pro models or even lower resolutions in some laptops, you want something that can output high resolution.

You also want a webcam that can deliver high-quality picture and sound, and given the malware-laden modern age society finds itself in, even increased privacy.

Alogic hopes its Iris webcam fits the bill as a proper imaging upgrade.

Simple Apple-like design

The Alogic Iris A09 webcam, to use its full name, is a webcam device that you connect to your Mac or PC. Like many others on the market, it’s designed to be placed on a display, plugged into a USB port, and then used with minimal user requirements.

From the start, Alogic seems to have tried to woo the Apple user base, with its Iris using a brushed aluminum tubular casing that wouldn’t look out of place near a Mac mini (on sale now). A square tube with rounded corners, the enclosure is capped at each end by a plastic cap, complete with a shallow circular divot.

In physical terms, the tube is one inch high and deep and just under three inches long. The mounting clip increases the depth and height to two inches each.

At 4.3 ounces, it’s also a very lightweight webcam, and considering its size, it’s not too difficult to pack away for travel.

On the front are a series of holes for the microphone system, a small LED light, the camera lens with a cover, and a small amount of branding. Around the back are a few extra small holes and the cable.

In addition to being around 4.5 feet long, the cable terminates in a widespread USB-A connector. However, Alogic includes a small USB-A to USB-C converter in the box so you can plug it into USB-C or Thunderbolt connections as well.

Mounting possibilities

The entire assembly sits on a fold-out clip-style mount, to which the camera is attached using a ball joint for further angle adjustments.

When unfolded, the clip has a large lip at the front to hook onto the front of the screen. Able to bend just over 180 degrees, the rest of the clip is used to help position the webcam on top of your screen, and can be used to pin it in place for slim laptop-style setups .

The mounting clip includes a thread for tripods.

The mounting clip includes a thread for tripods.

While the design is already more than enough to stay in place on a monitor, there’s also rubber material inside the clip for added traction.

If you don’t plan on clipping it to anything, the webcam sits perfectly on the clip when folded and closed.

If you have a tripod, there is a screw mount on the back segment of the clip so that it can be mounted on this accessory. You can open the clip further and adjust the ball joint if you need to perfect the angle.

A good image

At the front of the webcam is the camera, which looks impressive with its 0.75-inch diameter. Much of this circle is for show, as the camera lens is only a few millimeters wide in the middle of this section.

The camera is a 2-megapixel CMOS sensor, which isn’t stunning resolution but enough to deliver a 1080p image.

Rather than just sticking to reasonable sensor resolution, the CMOS sensor also has autofocus capability. Rather than trying to keep everything in focus, the webcam focuses on the main subject of the frame.

The 1080p image from the Alogic Iris is good enough for video conferencing.

The 1080p image from the Alogic Iris is good enough for video conferencing.

The autofocus helps improve the resulting image, and it’s reasonably quick to react to changes that would require refocusing the image. There are rare occasions when he tries to center himself despite the apparent lack of need to do so, but these are unusual cases.

Out of the box and without any real attempt to improve the lighting in the room, the webcam does a pretty good job of trying to expose the image well in a fairly dark room with most of the light coming from the monitor . There’s a bit of noise in the image, but it’s still an extremely useful stream for video conferencing.

However, after switching on additional lighting used for streaming with other cameras, the Iris struggles a bit. It only takes a bit of bright light to start overexposing areas of the image, especially the shiny parts of the face, which isn’t ideal.

Overexposure wasn’t just a problem with artificial lighting. Using window light, it once again entered overexposure territory.

This could benefit users who don’t particularly want to clutter up their workspace with additional videography equipment, especially if they have a screen that’s bright enough to work with.

As a simple webcam, there are no apps or control settings you can use to reduce this exposure, but a third-party webcam management app may likely be able to fix this.

Microphones and noise cancellation

On board the webcam are two stereo microphones, a pair of audio pickups that reside in the holes on the front of the camera.

As another party trick, the microphones have built-in noise cancellation to reduce background noise while still allowing the user’s voice to be heard.

Audio quality was good in testing, though a bit thin with minimal base. Noise cancellation worked to dampen the sound of a nearby fan, though it was still audible compared to a quiet room.

However, due to the webcam’s lack of configurable elements, you cannot disable active noise cancellation at all. It can be an annoyance, but you still get sound good enough for meetings.

Privacy

To help ease those concerned about being spied on through a webcam, Alogic includes a privacy cover for the camera. Attached to the upper right corner of the circular “lens”, the plastic cover rotates counter-clockwise to completely cover the element.

The Alogic Iris uses a square tube as its housing, along with a plastic privacy cover.

The Alogic Iris uses a square tube as its housing, along with a plastic privacy cover.

It’s not an entirely high-tech solution to the problem, as it simply blocks the view and nearly all light reaching the camera sensor while keeping the sensor active. In communications applications, others will see an almost black screen with brighter regions as the camera sensor tries to expose what little light it can see from the edges.

In addition to keeping the imaging sensor alive, deploying the privacy cover does not affect the microphones in any way, as they are still active as usual. With the cap on, you won’t be seen, but you’ll still be heard.

A lack of control

The Alogic Iris is a pretty good webcam to upgrade your setup if you lack a 1080p imaging device. There’s not much to complain about in a small camera aimed at video conferencing, as you can’t expect 4K or RED sensor quality for that sort of thing.

You get a lot from the camera for its $69 price tag, including Mac-like design elements and a simple approach to setting it up and using it.

Its flaws, namely its tendency to overexpose and a noise cancellation system that you can’t turn off, stem from this desire to make it as easy to use as possible.

This could potentially be solved by introducing an app or additional settings where users could fine-tune the picture and audio if they wish.

There is a lot of good in the Alogic Iris webcam. It just needs to introduce a little more control, and it could be a great webcam.

  • 1080p camera with autofocus
  • Privacy cover
  • Noise-canceling stereo microphones
  • Good image quality
  • Style matches Mac aesthetic
  • Tendency to overexpose
  • Unable to change device settings

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Or buy

The Alogic Iris webcam is available in the Alogic store, priced at $69.

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