Chances are you’ve become much more acquainted with your face on a computer screen, as video calls have replaced what once would have been in-person meetings.
If you’re apt to leave your camera off or hide on mute, we have some smart gadgets that will help you look, and sound, your best-making you a star of socially distanced communication.
Creative BlasterX Senz3D
Nothing upgrades your video call like a quality camera, and the BlasterX Senz3D from Creative is certainly that. A feature-filled peripheral that attaches to the top of your display, the BlasterX is capable of shooting full HD 1080p resolution with 60 frames per second at 720p and 30 frames per second at 1080p-all of which is to say, you’ll be looking crystal clear with life-like motion.
Top-notch capture and performance isn’t the only place where the BlasterX excels, however. The camera is Windows Cortana- and Windows Hello-certified, enabling users to unlock their computer with a glance, and control all of their machines functions via vocal command.
Better still, the BlasterX offers automated background removal, meaning you can hide your bookshelf (or kids) from everyone else on your call.
The Creative BlasterX Senz3D is available for $169.
Elgato Key Light
The highest-quality camera doesn’t mean much if no one can see you. Elgato Key Lights are endlessly adjustable panel lights that clamp directly to your desk and bring the brightness without the heat. Built with 160 OSRAM LEDS, Key Lights are capable of producing a scintillating 2800-lumen output and a color range of 2900K to 7000K, for however warm or cool you are feeling that day.
Best of all, unlike the majority of desktop lighting options, which require users to fiddle with the back of the lamp to find their preferred settings, Key Lights are Wi-Fi-enabled, allowing owners to easily set their lighting preferences via their computer and change on the fly without walking off screen.
Elgato Key Lights are available for $338.
Looking great is one step toward a great video call, but eventually you’re going to need to talk too, and if you’re still relying on your phone headphones with built-in microphone-or worse, no mic at all-do yourself (and your co-workers) a favor with an upgrade to the Shure MV5 Digital Condenser Microphone. In addition to providing superior audio pick up (with vocal, instrument or flat settings available), the Shure MV5 is a plug-and-play USB mic-meaning you don’t have to be a studio engineer to use it.
Those who would like to tweak, fine tune or customize their settings, have the option via the accompanying Shure app, which offers complete control over the MV5’s audio settings. And for Apple users, the MV5 has an additional perk. As an Apple MFi Certified device, the MV5 can tether to any iOS device (phone, tablet, etc.) without the need for a cord, allowing users to easily switch devices for those times when a computer might not be available for a video call.
The Shure MV5 Digital Condenser Microphone is available for $99.
Facebook Portal TV
While video calls may be a more prominent aspect of our everyday life, not all video calls are business-related. For those looking for an easy way to keep in touch with family and friends, Facebook Portal TV may be a good solution. The smart camera/eight-mic array combination that sits below or is mounted above your television, allows users to turn their TV into a giant video calling display.
Portal TV comes with Alexa built in, allowing users to operate the gadget via voice control and make calls through Facebook Messenger or the WhatsApp application.
Even better, the camera itself is brainy. In addition to offering a 120-degree field of view, Portal TV’s smart camera will use A.I. to automatically keep everyone in frame, even as they move about the room.
Facebook Portal TV is available for $149.