Having all your telecommuting equipment in one dedicated device is an enticing promise, which is probably why ring-light equipped webcams like the Razer Kiyo exist. But as someone who still attends work meetings with a headset, even the best webcams still leave me wanting a separate microphone. That leaves demand for a proper all-in-one device, which is at least one reason why the Movo WebMic HD Pro Kickstarter hit its $15,000 goal in less than three hours when it launched earlier today.
Coming from audio equipment and smartphone recording accessory maker Movo, the WebMic HD Pro is essentially a cardioid condenser microphone (think the Blue Yeti or Razer Seiren) with a built-in 1080p @ 30 fps camera and halo ring light. There’s also a detachable stand that’s supposed to double as a handheld grip for more stable video, plus a clamp for attaching it to a monitor or laptop.
We don't often cover Kickstarter projects, because they’re just too volatile and prone to making promises that are too big. But Movo’s a well-known company--a video journalism course I took at Columbia actually provided me with some Movo gear as part of the tuition. And given how necessary good recording equipment is right now, having a product that takes down the technical demand of managing multiple devices is appealing.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t have our concerns. Chief among them: We can’t imagine it’s easy to get the most flattering angles and the best audio at the same time with this device. Normally, flattering video angles tend to come from above (hence the 'Facebook angle' meme) while the best audio comes from a microphone that’s closer to your mouth. That means you’ll probably need to compromise between the two with the WebMic HD Pro, and even in Movo’s promotional images, you see a lot of sample use cases that would result in what we lovingly call the 'nose cam' effect, which is when a webcam is placed in a way that it shoots up your nostrils.
There’s also a lack of special features on the camera itself. There are 5 options listed on the Kickstarter, though all of them only capture footage at 30 fps, only two capture in 4K, and only two have the ring light. One option even only has the microphone, which seems to go so against the concept of the device that it almost shows a lack of confidence in it.
Finally, Movo doesn’t specialize in cameras themselves, so much as camera accessories, so we worry about video quality and low-light performance.
Still, the price is right. The 1080p WebMic HD Pro with the ring light, microphone and camera currently starts at $89 to “super early bird” backers, which is the same price as the similar Razer Kiyo, but will also get you that microphone functionality. That’s listed as 47% off the normal price, which would put its typical cost closer to $168, which is still great value given the device’s supposed functionality.
It’s also likely that this is one Kickstarter project that will come to fruition since Movo is such a well-known brand. In fact, because the Kickstarter project’s goal was so low, it was most likely put out to gauge interest in and promote the WebMic HD rather than actually fund it. With that in mind, it’s not too surprising to see a promised June delivery date.
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Michelle Ehrhardt is an editor at Tom's Hardware. She's been following tech since her family got a Gateway running Windows 95, and is now on her third custom-built system. Her work has been published in publications like Paste, The Atlantic, and Kill Screen, just to name a few. She also holds a master's degree in game design from NYU.
An interesting idea, but not a great one at that.Reply
Aside from the concerns listed in the article, the pickup pattern is questionable at best. I would imagine they went with a cardioid design for recognition only, since the "high end" mics are cardioid ours should be too right?
Placed at table height the pickup pattern would still get any keyboard or ambient noise near the mic, since the pattern is only isolating from the rear.
Placed on a monitor the same issue persists where you are picking up most of the room audio, gain is probably going to be fairly high to support the pickup pattern at that distance.
The best camera position is centrally on top of the monitor. Doesn't seem to be supported by this device in its standard configuration.Reply
If not using a headset (which is typically the best option) that position of the microphone (on top of the monitor) isn't bad.
Wasn't there something like this already? I mean the Turret?Reply