Insta360 Link Review: Rolls-Royce of USB Webcam
When testing the webcam, I usually play with the light in the room, both ambient and artificial light. I do my best to disable autofocus and white balance to see how the webcam adjusts and responds. I moved further in my chair and swayed around like a bowling ball. i have more Oh And ahhh from my colleagues as they marveled at how smoothly Link refocused on my face. I’ve tested a lot of webcams with jarring autofocus, but Link doesn’t. It was able to focus with my face 4 inches (10 cm) from the lens, closer than I needed to reach the webcam.
Link can zoom up to four times, but that’s digital zoom. That means zooming in will produce a photo with more pixels the closer it gets to the subject. However, this is a 4K webcam, so with such high resolution support, you can zoom in a bit and still keep the image sharp. At the top end, Link supports 4K resolutions at 24, 25, and 30 frames per second. For less bandwidth, or for faster frame rates, which make videos look smoother, you can downscale to 1080p at 50 or 60 frames per second, among other options.
24 frames per second sounds redundant when 25 is also an option, but it’s the gold standard for film production, so anyone who shoots movies on camera expects to record at frame rate. this image to upload to YouTube or for a movie project later. There’s also support for High Dynamic Range (HDR), which helps keep the bright lights in your frame in check without overexposing or overexposed images. This is optional, but only works at 1080p or 720p at 24, 25, or 30 frames per second.
Most webcams have pretty bad microphones, but the dual noise-cancelling microphones on the Insta360 Link get me pretty good sound (according to my colleagues). That said, I still prefer a standalone USB microphone like Blue Snowball.
There’s no physical privacy shutter, but Link prevents hackers and weirdos from peeking through your webcam uninvited by automatically rotating its gimbal head downwards, away from you. This happens 10 seconds after the conferencing application is no longer using the webcam. When you start a video meeting, Link backs up and wakes up to start streaming again (it supports features like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, etc.).
Problem? Three hundred dollars is a lot of money for a webcam. It also has competition. Have Tiny Obsbot 4Kanother PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) webcam that has many of the same tricks (albeit less polished) a little less. Greatness Logitech 4K Brio Webcam usually under $150 and delivers almost good image quality without any movement.
The question is whether you need automatic tracking and gesture control. If the answer is no, then even Link’s slightly superior video quality isn’t enough to justify spending almost twice as much on a webcam like the Brio, which is already an expensive webcam. You can get a great, simple webcam for only 50 dollars.
However, if you regularly shoot videos or if you regularly give virtual presentations—or you just want to film your dance workouts—Link is a great choice. It rounds out the basics (great video quality) with a polished set of extras, like automatic tracking, gestures, and what I call reduced privacy. It’s not a bargain, but it’s the best.