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Ausdom is Selling Webcams for Under $100. Should You Buy One?

Ausdom Webcams
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Even as some American cities start to reopen in the wake of the pandemic, plenty of workers are still telecommuting. That’s probably why most remote working supplies are still in as high demand as ever. Even several months post-outbreak, webcam mainstays like the Logitech C920 webcam that we consider the industry leader are still either sold out or being sold by scalpers for two to three times their usual prices. Well-known webcam manufacturers like Logitech have promised restocking by now, but it doesn’t seem to be coming anytime soon. The continued shortage means that anyone who needs a better camera has to consider solutions from lesser-known brands. 

That’s why we’ve been maintaining a list of best webcams you can still buy in the pandemic, which has now led us to three Logitech-style webcams from a lesser-known company named Ausdom.

Ausdom is mostly known for its lineup of wireless headphones, though it maintains a series of 1920 x 1080 FHD webcams as well, each built with a different purpose in mind. All of these are currently available from the company’s official Amazon store, meaning no inflated pricing or sketchy deals. The promise of an FHD webcam for under $100 is enough on its own to make these attractive pandemic buys, but since I happen to already own a Logitech C920, I decided to go one step further and test three of these cameras against our current best-in-class.

Can Ausdom provide a comparable experience in our current webcam shortage? 

Ausdom AF640 1080p HD Webcam: Best Logitech Replacement 

Ausdom AF640 1080p HD

(Image credit: Ausdom)

Available at Amazon for $89

The Ausdom AF640 knows exactly what it wants to be. Visually coming across like a larger version of the Logitech C920, it’s clearly meant for casual, no fuss calls and records in 1920 x 1080 at 30 fps (or 2048 x 1536 if you’re using the more niche mjpg video codec). Lacking any manual controls (unlike its sister AW615 webcam), it uses autofocus, has a 90 degree viewing angle and includes a built-in 36dB omni-directional microphone.

On paper, that makes it a slightly suped up C920, which makes sense. It’s both newer than the 8 year old Logitech, which has a 78 degree viewing angle and stereo microphone, and boasts a slightly more expensive $89.99 price tag. In practice, though, it’s more of a lateral move, outpacing the C920 in some areas while lagging behind in others.

The microphone, for instance, is no contest. The AF640 just sounds better and clearer. In tests where I repeated the same 10 second sentence in a neutral voice with the same amount of background noise- an air conditioner and washing machine- and in the same environment, the AF640 continually picked up less background noise and less buzz. While it was a little quieter and a little less bassy, my words were much clearer, making it more appropriate for virtual conversation.

Taking photos and testing video with both webcams mounted on the exact same spot on my monitor, the most noticeable immediate difference was the AF640’s wider field of view. At 90 degrees compared to the C920’s 78 degrees, it’s able to fit more into the frame, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. Because it’s not adjustable, for instance, the background could show off more of your room than you like, or not place enough emphasis on your face. However, if you need to show off a lot of your surroundings, perhaps to help lead a demonstration, it would make a good fit.

The second issue to come to my attention was the autofocus, which is a bit more overzealous on the AF640 than the Logitech. While the autofocusing process was almost invisible on the Logitech, the AF640’s picture was frequently and noticeably adjusting. This means that if you tend to move around a lot on camera, you’ll notice the picture will occasionally blur as it tries to keep up with you.

Colors, however, were only slightly muted compared to the Logitech, as were textures. I definitely noticed a little more detail on the C920, but the difference shouldn’t be apparent to anyone not looking for it. The AW640, though, was more susceptible to glare than the C920, making finding appropriate lighting a touch more difficult.

Below are some pictures I took with each webcam, for comparison: 

As for the physical build, the Ausdom AW640 once again adds a new feature at the cost of another. Unlike the Logitech C920, it is able to turn in 360 degrees. The Logitech, on the other hand, can only tilt up and down. Theoretically, this would make it more flexible than the C920, but its range of motion for tilting up and down is so limited that it’s more of a trade-off.

Thankfully, the mounts for either webcam are essentially identical, both adhering to my monitor well and both including holes for universal tripod mounts. Build quality is also roughly identical, with both webcams feeling sturdy and resistant to damage.

Overall, the Ausdom AW640 is the best general purpose Ausdom webcam we tested, and the closest to the Logitech C920. It’s not a perfect mirror of our mainstay, swapping some fidelity for a wider viewing angle, but it emulates it well for around the same price. That makes the AW640 a great choice for casual and business calls, while our other contenders are more specialized. 

Ausdom AW615 1080p FHD Webcam: For fiddling with focus 

Ausdom AW615 1080p FHD

(Image credit: Ausdom)

Available at Amazon for $74

Like the Ausdom AF640, the AW615 is another 1920 x 1080 FHD webcam that records at 30 fps (across all video codecs) and comes with a built in 36dB omnidirectional microphone. However, unlike the AF640, its capabilities and intended use cases veer less towards casual use and more towards an enthusiast audience.

For instance, the AW615 is the only Ausdom webcam to advertise how many megapixels it can capture, which is 12. That’s equivalent to the front facing cameras on the iPhone 11. More important, though, is the camera’s focus on, well, manual focus.

The Ausdom AW615 webcam does not have autofocus. Instead, it comes with an F2.0 lens that has a focal length of 3.6mm.

In photography, the f-stop number- F2.0 in this case- measures how much light gets exposed to the film, while the focal length measures how much the camera either converges or disperses light. The AW615’s specs are about equivalent to a standard CCTV camera, giving it a 65 degree viewing angle and focus well-suited to the close-up objects a webcam would be capturing.

Unfortunately, this relies on user input, which meant much of my time with the AW615 was spent physically fiddling with its lens. And since I haven’t taken a photography class since high school, this led to plenty of dark, glare-filled, blurry and/or washed out images. And even when I did get the focus right, my tendency to frequently move around when talking consistently threw it off.

For this reason, I wouldn’t recommend the Ausdom AW615 for video chats, unless you’re a camera expert. However, I did find one use case where it beat out competitors, even the Logitech C920- up close photos.

Taking an extreme close-up of my stuffed Kirby, the Ausdom AW615 was able to accurately recreate its texture more than any other webcam on this list, including the Logitech C920. That’s probably thanks to the manual zoom, since triggering autofocus on extreme close-ups can be difficult.

Here’s a few photos I took with the Logitech and the AW615 for comparison: 

Moving on to its microphone, which is barely visible on the webcam itself, the Ausdom AW615  tended to perform worse than the already poor microphone on the Logitech C920. Audio was fuzzier than the Logitech and sounded muffled, as if I were speaking through a silencer. More egregious, though, was the low volume of my recordings. While this did mean that the AW615 picked up less background noise, it also meant that it picked up less of what it was supposed to, making it difficult to hear myself without turning up my speakers.

The AW615’s build speaks to its purpose. Unlike the wide, horizontal, look of most webcams, the AW615 is instead a long device with a partial silver metal coating, more akin to a camcorder. Like the Ausdom AW640, it can swivel 360 degrees, but it also has a wide range of motion when turning up and down, making it versatile for shooting from different angles. Unfortunately, this is hampered somewhat by its choice to use a rubber loop instead of a standard monitor mount, which meant I had difficulty attaching it to my monitor and keeping it in place. It also lacks a hole for universal tripod mounts.

Overall, the AW615 is a situational device. While its lack of autofocus and poor microphone make it difficult to use for casual or business video calls, its manual zoom does allow it to capture extra fidelity for those who know what they’re doing, especially on close-ups. That could make it great for taking still photos, if that’s one of your frequent needs. It’s also cheaper than the Ausdom AF640, coming in at $76.99. 

The Ausdom AW635 1080p FHD Webcam: A Budget Solution 

Ausdom AW635 1080p FHD

(Image credit: Ausdom)

Available at Amazon for $65

The Ausdom AW635 is the cheapest webcam on this list, coming in at a price of $69.99. More like the AF640 than the AW615, it features autofocus, 1080p recording at 30 fps (across all video codecs) and a built-in 32dB omni-directional mic.

The key difference here is that the AW635 seems to zoom in far more than any other webcam on this list, despite the camera’s purported 60 degree viewing angle.

Looking through both the webcam’s official listing and its included instructions, I couldn’t find any explanation for this, or any way to disable it. Still, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, if you want your audience’s attention on your face anyway.

Unfortunately, the picture on the AW635 was more prone to glare than either the AF640 or the Logitech C920, in my experience. Colors also appeared lighter than in real life, and texture didn’t carry across well on screen. Like the AF640, the autofocus was also continually and visibly readjusting.

Here’s a few images I took with the AW635 compared against similar images from the Logitech C920: 

The microphone on the AW635 is virtually identical to the AW615’s. This means fuzzy, muffled audio and low volume. It gets the job done, and it does avoid picking up background noise, but that’s about it.

As for its build, the AW635 is about half as wide as the AF640, giving it a portable feel. It can rotate 360 degrees, but it cannot swivel up and down. Our model, as well as the one on Amazon, has the same standard monitor mount with included universal tripod mount hole as the AF640, and it works just as well. However, Ausdom’s website shows the AW635 with the same rubber loop mount as the AW615.

Overall, the Ausdom AW635 has the lowest image quality of any webcam on this list, and can only do close-ups. Its $69.99 price also isn’t much of a discount off either the Logitech C920 or the much-more-reliable Ausdom AF640. 

Should you buy an Ausdom webcam? 

It really depends on your use case. If all you need is a similar experience to more common recommendations like the Logitech C920, the Ausdom AF640 largely offers that with only a $10 upcharge and a slight drop in image quality. If you need more detail, however, the more customizable Ausdom AW615 does offer the potential for that, but comes with a difficult-to-use manual zoom and a finicky monitor mount.

Ausdom’s budget option, the AW635, unfortunately delivers an experience more on par with a built-in laptop camera than a dedicated desktop webcam, with lower image quality than its $69.99 price tag implies.  

Still, being able to buy anything similar to the Logitech C920 without dealing with either scalpers or low supply is impressive enough for us to recommend the Ausdom AF640.

  • NightHawkRMX
    Could just buy a used laptop with a webcam for less than webcams cost rn
    Reply
  • Giroro
    I very much dislike the clickbait title on this review (overview? Quick-look? Sponsored affiliate content?)

    There are a lot of manufactures out there with sub-$100 webcams, including name brands. The $130 Logitech Pro, $60 Logitech C615, and $30 Logitech C270 have been available at best buy for some time.
    Availability is still spotty on some models due to supply chain disruptions, and I recognize that time has lost all meaning.. but we are halfway through 2020 and the mad rush for telecommute equipment was 4+ months ago.
    Reply
  • Makaveli
    NightHawkRMX said:
    Could just buy a used laptop with a webcam for less than webcams cost rn

    Why would I want to buy a whole computer just to get a web cam when working on a desktop computer? And laptop webcam's are usually worse quality than a stand alone.

    Kinda like using a baseball bat to kill an ant!
    Reply
  • 2Be_or_Not2Be
    So the subtitle asks "Can you trust this third party manufacturer?" and then proceeds to say NOTHING about whether you can trust the company.

    Don't put questions in titles if you aren't going to answer them!
    Reply