eMeet SmartCam C960 review: This low-cost webcam is popular for a reason
At a glance
Not so great in low-light scenarios, especially with color
Stick-on privacy shutter
eMeet’s SmartCam C960 offers solid value as a fixed-focus, 1080p, 30Hz webcam. Just be sure to use it in a well-lit room.
Best Prices Today: eMeet C960 Webcam
eMeet’s SmartCam C960 is the most popular webcam on Amazon at press time, and for good reason—it’s been around since the early days of the pandemic, meaning that it was one of the few choices during the peak work-from-home era. Don’t rely on just that, however. The C960 has received a small refresh along with a small price cut, adding some features to keep up with its rivals.
The 1080p Smartcam C960 used to be a 30Hz webcam that shipped with a small tripod. The upgraded model now offers a “stickum” DIY privacy shutter, which it lacked before. (There’s still a threaded hole in the base for mounting it on a tripod option, though the tripod ships with a slightly different eMeet model.)
Further reading: See our roundup of the best webcams for our recommendations, buying advice, and more.
Otherwise, the basics remain the same. The eMeet Smartcam is a 1080p webcam that plugs into your PC with a USB-A cord that’s about four feet long. The webcam offers a wide-angle, 90-degree field of view, probably too wide for most one-on-one video calls. It’s a fixed-focus camera, with a focal length of between 11.8 to118.1 inches, according to the manufacturer—that’s just fine for virtually all scenarios. The webcam includes a pair of noise-cancelling mics, too.
The privacy shutter ships in a small baggie inside the box. You’ll need to manually peel back the sticky tape, then affix the shutter so it flops down over the lens. This approach feels a little cheap, but it works. The entire webcam uses a “jaws” clamp to loosely hold onto a monitor or laptop display, and the entire webcam assembly can be pivoted up and down to adjust the view.
While the webcam is plug and play, you can download an associated eMeetLink app to adjust the white balance, contrast, and more. Many of these tweaks can be made in a videoconferencing app itself, so there’s really no need to download it, otherwise. (Remember, too, that not every videoconferencing app supports 1080p—Google Meet finally added 1080p support in April, but it still defaults to 720p.)
How does the eMeet SmartCam C960 perform?
We tested the webcam in both a dim home office environment as well as a more brightly-lit kitchen table. In each, we use the Windows Camera application (in video mode) to record the image, as we don’t have to worry about image compression. It also provides a neutral light source—a big bright display can serve as a rich man’s ring light! You may see grainier images when on video calls, though.
Mark Hachman / IDG
In the office, the camera did a poor job of detecting the different colors of my sweatshirt and T-shirt, but did pretty well in picking up my face. The wide 90-degree FOV isn’t of much use, though.
At my impromptu workspace at my dining table, the C960 does much better. The 60Hz refresh rate certainly makes a difference in capturing video, too.
Mark Hachman / IDG
The one weakness, typical of many webcams, is the microphone quality. It’s average at best, and there’s certainly an argument that your laptop may have better mics already built in. (To check, you can go to your videoconferencing app’s Settings menu and switch back and forth.)
There are simply so many quality webcams available now, including budget models. Rest assured that there are better, more expensive webcams available. But as a solid budget pick, the eMeet SmartCam C960 is a smart choice as long as you have good lighting and perhaps an external mic. And if that’s good enough, eMeet has another option: a 2K webcam with autofocus for about $10 more.
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