If your laptop webcam has survived two years of working from home, but you want it to be a lot better, the $199 Logitech Brio 500 makes for a decent update, when you can’t buy a new laptop.
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What is the Logitech Brio 500?
You’ll be totally surprised by this, but the Logitech Brio 500 is a webcam, and one that can stand up by itself or clip to the edge of something — a monitor or laptop screen, ideally, but maybe a soundbar or speaker system if you have one under your display.
It’s quite small, as you’d expect a compact webcam to be, and while it doesn’t come with a case, it does arrive with a clip that can be turned into a small stand of sorts, even using a magnetic point to hold to the stand.
Technically, there’s a 4 megapixel sensor in the Brio 500, capable of supporting up to 1080p Full HD video or 720p HD, dealer’s choice, with the ability to autofocus, plus features a privacy shutter that can be twisted on the side to close up the lens.
There’s also a built-in stereo microphone and support for some software features in the LogiTune app, with the whole thing plugging in using that standard Type C USB port we’re all getting very familiar with.
Does it do the job?
With the Logitech software installed, you’ll find some settings available to let you play with your framing, focus, sharpness, and even colour. You don’t need the Logitech “LogiTune” software to use the camera — Windows and Mac should pick up on the webcam without the software — but the official app gives you that little bit more to work with.
We’re particularly happy with the beta of “RightSight”, which is essentially Logitech’s take on Centre Stage found in iPads and MacBooks, centring the frame on your face, and doing so rather efficiently.
You’ll find three modes for framing distance — close, default, and father — and you get three speeds for framing those modes, as well. What you don’t get is the ability to blur the background, but given video conference tools can do this, Logitech might not have seen the use for featuring it.
In terms of a webcam replacement, the Brio 500 serves as a decent choice for giving you images that are sharp, with the camera able to be positioned in more than just the angles offered by your laptop’s lid angle.
What does it need?
However, one of the downsides of Logitech’s Brio comes down to the software, because while the software is good, it really needs to be unified with Logitech’s other piece of software, Logi Options+.
If you have a Logitech MX keyboard or MX Master mouse, you already have the former, and if you want to use the Logitech Brio 500, you also need LogiTune, another totally different piece of software that frankly could use the Logi Options+ interface if it really wanted. We’re loathe to install yet another piece of software, and we’re not entirely sure why Logitech insists upon it when the two could really be merged.
Our other issue comes from the resolution, because the 1080p sensor of the Brio 500 is a little low-end these days, and could be improved.
There’s nothing wrong with Full HD 1080p, but a higher-res sensor would definitely have been appreciated. The 4K sensor of the Jabra Panacast 20 certainly sits at the high-end, but it also costs $400. At half that price, Logitech has gone with an older resolution, offering a max of 1080p.
We’d really expect 2K at a minimum, partly because it just gives a webcam that extra legroom to position and centre your face more clearly. It’s technically a 4 megapixel sensor, so not super breathtaking, though it does the job.
Is the Brio 500 worth your money?
The other issue may be price, because at $199.95 in Australia, Logitech’s Brio 500 feels a little expensive for what it is.
Given the price of other webcam replacements, Logitech’s Brio 500 isn’t poorly placed, especially since these WFH accessories can cost a pretty penny. In fact, it’s a decent little webcam with some compelling features for people looking for an upgrade without needing to buy a new laptop.
Laptop purchases are often how we update our webcams these days, and with costs rising and laptops not being cheap, a webcam by itself could well make sense.
Yay or nay?
Even with those issues, and they’re really quite minor, the Logitech Brio 500 is worth the cost, especially if you don’t have a great webcam, or alternatively you’re like me and using a monitor without a webcam built-in.
The Logitech Brio 500 is a great add-on for a WFH environment, and it won’t take the wallet for too much of a ride, which is always a win. It could be better, sure, but right now the Brio 500 is good to go, whether you leave it at home or take it someplace else.