Economic webcams continue to come out even with the best webcams back in stock. And while it’s common to find them from companies you’ve never heard of, Monoprice has now expanded its Workstream brand to include a few competitors. They are priced to match other budget cameras, but they have the same name that has been making reliable generic PTZ cameras for years now.
The Monoprice Workstream 1080p webcam in particular aims to take this mentality and apply it to the home office rather than the boardroom. The result? This webcam isn’t as easy to handle as more expensive competitors, but it can really shine if you know what you’re doing.
Monoprice Workstream 1080p webcam
I tested the Monoprice Workstream 1080p webcam against the Logitech C920, which is the classic torchbearer for 1080p webcams. Of course, with the Monoprice webcam costing $ 20, the two devices don’t allow for an exact comparison. The big difference between the two cameras is the way they focus. While the Logitech C920 uses autofocus, the Workstream requires you to focus manually.
My most manual focus experience is a photography class I took in high school. So while your experience may differ, I had a hard time finding the happy medium with this camera. With my curtain up and the ambient light sources on in my office, the image on the Workstream webcam was always slightly blurry in some places and too sharp in others, regardless of its lens setting. On the plus side, the colors were warmer in a generally more accurate way than on the Logitech C920, and the parts of the photos that weren’t out of focus showed a lot of detail. Unfortunately, this detail was often not flattering and seemed to be more the result of too sharp focusing than anything else.
The Workstream webcam also captures a slightly wider field of view than the C920, although this comes with a fishbowl effect. Oddly enough, the Workstream 1080p website says it has a 70-degree field of view, but the photos I took with it seemed to exceed that.
Low light room
Monoprice Workstream 1080p webcam
When I lowered my curtain and turned off all ambient light sources in my home office except my monitor, the Monoprice webcam suddenly started producing much more impressive images. I barely adjusted my focus after changing my lighting, but the blurry, over-sharp parts of the footage started to balance out to achieve what was mostly a happy medium on full shots. During this time, the warm colors and details remained. All of this resulted in shots that, while still suffering from slight artifacts, generally appeared to have higher fidelity than those taken with the Logitech C920. The more expensive camera looked blurry and cool in comparison. I’m guessing room dimming produced an overall blurry effect on both cameras, making photos that looked too sharp in brighter light look normal here.
Monoprice Workstream 1080p webcam
Performance in brightly lit conditions was a bit difficult between the two devices. While I was able to get a brighter image with the Monoprice Workstream 1080p webcam, the image I got from the Logitech C920 was less blurry on my face while being less sharp around the edges. Either way, it’s impressive to see a $ 20 webcam in these conditions that doesn’t just bathe my face in shadow. It takes work to find the right focus, but if you know what you’re doing you can really push the camera beyond your budget in these conditions. Just look out the window – I wouldn’t expect $ 20 to be anything other than a blinding white sheet.
Monoprice Workstream 1080p webcam videos
While I’ve structured most of this review around photos, because those are easier to share with text, you’ll likely buy this webcam for video calling. Its 1080p @ 30fps quality held up while streaming for me, although I did experience lag in recorded videos on several occasions.
Video is what I can share, so we’ll have to settle for that. I shot a sample video of myself using this webcam in what I would consider my standard office lighting conditions, using the same focus settings I took my examples from. photos earlier in this review. While my photo generally reflected the stills I had taken under these conditions, the artifact in my video really amplified when I moved my head. I’m not sure why these issues didn’t show up in the live calls.
Monoprice Workstream 1080p webcam build quality
The Monoprice Workstream 1080p webcam is a basic device that keeps most of its functionality physically connected to the camera instead of distributing it through accessories, although it comes with an optional adhesive shutter, which does not work. well with its manual focus lens.
Indeed, to adjust the focus of the Workstream 1080p, you must rotate the ring that surrounds its lens. Putting the shutter around the lens prevents you from doing this, and while it’s debatable that many people will only need to adjust their focus once (or at least occasionally) , this oversight indicates a general lack of thought with the design of this device.
This lack of thought is also present in this unit’s monitor stand, which lacks feet and was wobbly for me on both a curved-back monitor and a flat-back monitor. I had to constantly be careful not to accidentally knock it over when adjusting the focus or camera position, but there is a tripod screw on the mount if you prefer to avoid trying to fully connect it to the mount. your monitor.
Speaking of camera position, the Workstream 1080p has a generous tilt up and down, but that’s it. You can point the camera around 45 degrees up and 180 degrees down, but don’t expect to rotate it.
Finally, the Workstream 1080p USB Type-A cable is short but usable. I measured it at around 56 inches when I pulled it all the way out, which is a lot shorter than the 72-inch cord on the Logitech C920, but should still be able to reach most ports on most setups.
I must also mention the aesthetics of this camera, although there is not much to say. Parts of this webcam are wrapped in hard plastic, which makes it appear sturdy despite what otherwise appears to be cheap build. There is also an LED that lights up when it starts consuming power and another that lights up when it is recording.
The Monoprice Workstream 1080p webcam is your typical budget competitor, with compromises in construction, no software to speak of, and tricky special considerations like manual focus. If you know what you’re doing and have the right lighting, you can get quality that rivals more expensive competition, but you’ll also have to jump over more hurdles to get there.
This extra work will give you a big discount, however, as this camera only costs $ 20 at Monoprice and $ 25 at Amazon. That’s probably why it sold out between when we ordered a device for review and when it actually arrived. Still, if you like to play around with your accessories and have a few more Hamilton’s to spare, it’s worth keeping an eye out for restocking in the future.