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Why are PC webcams crap? Lenovo says it knows the reason

Can expensive tech save this reporter's ugly mug? Not likely

Canalys Channels Forum It's not just Reg readers who recognize the less than satisfactory quality of built-in computer webcams. Appparently, the world's biggest PC maker does too.

The work-from-home revolution thrust upon much of the world in 2020 forced us to stay in contact remotely, so Zoom, Teams, WebEx, and others became the medium used to keep in touch with family, friends, and colleagues.

This reporter has a face for radio so the preference was to keep it turned off, but as we all know, sometimes that just isn't an option.

This rich topic of the generally-crap state of built-in webcams reared its ugly head at this week's Canalys Channels Forum in Barcelona when Steve Brazier, CEO at the market watcher, got straight to the point with the Lenovo exec on stage: "Why is it that PCs have such lousy webcams?"

"It's a good question," said Luca Rossi, enterprise vice president and president of the Intelligent Devices Group, and all-around good sport.

"I think the simple answer is that until before COVID, nobody was even asking how many megapixels [does] your internal camera [have], the face front camera. In phones, obviously, we know this is very important for selfies."

However, fret not, dear readers, we are assured that PC makers, or rather Lenovo at least, has things in hand.

Rossi told the audience at the Canalys event: "All these components – audio, video, camera – there is a lot a lot of innovation [taking place] to make this video conferencing, remote collaboration more productive."

Laptops are by far the most voluminous PC form factor – 54.7 million units shipped globally in calendar Q4 versus 14.7 million for desktop – and there are several reasons why integrated camera are so bad. The thinness of the devices mean space is limited for better cameras and, of course, price is another factor.

There are standalone webcams for PCs, but this author suspects he'd need some sort of integrated AI capability to make his visage look passable in the mornings. Better to keep the damn thing off. ®

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