Since the pandemic and the rise of remote working, having the best webcam on a laptop has become ever more important. In recent times we've certainly seen improvements in quality, but we've also had our fair share of weirdness when it comes to how they're integrated into laptop design.
Recently I came upon the Star Labs StarFighter. Regulars to Windows Central perhaps won't be familiar with the name, since Star Labs is mostly known for dedicated Linux laptops. Linux doesn't really matter here, but the webcam on the StarFighter is really interesting and something I hope catches on with Windows laptop makers.
The webcam isn't always attached to the laptop
It's simple, but brilliant. The webcam on the Star Labs StarFighter is detachable. It seems to hook onto the lid of the laptop using magnetic pogo pins, something you'd be familiar with from the Surface Type Covers.
So, the process of attaching and detaching it is quite simple. In the case of the StarFighter, the webcam stows away inside the chassis when not in use, so it's not like you'd forget to pack it or anything.
There will be folks out there who would see this as an unnecessary effort, especially if they use the webcam a lot. And I get that. But it has clear design and technological benefits, not to mention that the best webcam security is just not having one at all.
And is physically popping the webcam off the laptop that much more taxing than sliding a privacy cover across? Not really.
No notches, better webcams
The first, perhaps most obvious benefit is design. Without a webcam to house in the lid of the laptop this whole portion can be thinner, the bezels can be uniformly tiny, you could even get a little more display since there'd be no camera hardware in the way.
You also wouldn't ever have to put up with a notch on your laptop display. No, Apple, it isn't a design feature. It's stupid. You could have more screen space without a notch going this way, and without having to revert to previous Dell/Huawei-esque madness.
A separate module would also lend itself to just having better camera hardware. If it clips on externally it doesn't have to be as shrunken down, the sensor can be bigger, the microphone array can be better. Sometimes you just need size and space. I have no idea how good (or bad) the webcam on the Starfighter may be, but by virtue of being an external box, it certainly has the potential to pack more hardware in.
I'm not really a fan of webcams on laptops myself. They exist entirely to be used on work calls, and I'm fortunate enough that the quality isn't particularly important for those I have to do. The rest of the time I just wish it wasn't there and that the laptop display was filling more of the space in front of me.
With a setup like this, everyone could be happy. Those of us who mostly just want more screen to look at, and those who want a good webcam from time to time. I'd certainly like to see what the Windows heavyweights like Dell and Lenovo could do with something like this.
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Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine
> pandemic and the rise of remote working, having the best webcam on a laptop has become ever more important.Reply
I loath the whole push from the pandemic that you have to connect with your webcam. For years before masses (and HR/management people?) it was perfectly fine to be just black box and discuss technical matter, most of the time with shared screen but then covid hit and "savoir vivre of online meetings" started to popup and wo and behold - it started to be obligatory... seriously, it's pointless and doesn't bring anything to the meeting (again, save for the HR and management people trying to show they actually do anything useful :P)