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The Alogic Iris webcam provides a decent 1080p video feed and noise cancellation microphones for meetings, but in its simplicity, it could do with offering more control to its users.
The global pandemic has fostered a need for computer users to get a webcam. Be it for work Zoom calls or FaceTime with relatives, a webcam has become an indispensable bit of kit.
However, not all webcams are built the same. While you could get away with a 720p webcam in older MacBook Pro models or even lower resolutions in some notebooks, you want something that can produce a high resolution.
You also want a webcam that can provide a high-quality picture and audio, and given the modern malware-laden time society finds itself in, even elevated privacy.
Alogic hopes its Iris Webcam fits the bill as an appropriate imaging upgrade.
Simple Apple-like design
The Alogic Iris Webcam A09, to use its full name, is a webcam peripheral that you connect up to your Mac or PC. Like many others on the market, it is designed to be placed atop a display, plugged into a USB port, and then used with minimal configuration needed by the user.
From the outset, Alogic appears to have attempted to court the Apple user base, with its Iris using a tubular brushed aluminum enclosure that wouldn't look out of place near a Mac mini (on sale now). A square tube with rounded corners, the enclosure is capped off on each end by a plastic cap piece, complete with a shallow circular divot.
In physical terms, the tube is an inch tall and deep and just under three inches long. The mounting clip expands the depth and height to two inches each.
At 4.3 ounces, it's also a very light webcam, and given its size, it isn't too much trouble to pack away for travel.
On the front is a series of holes for the microphone system, a small LED indicator light, the camera lens complete with a cover, and a small amount of branding. Around the back are a few more small holes and the cable.
As well as being approximately 4.5 feet in length, the cable terminates in a widespread USB-A connector. However, Alogic includes a small USB-A to USB-C converter in the box so that you can also plug it into USB-C or Thunderbolt connections.
The entire assembly sits on top of a fold-out clip-style attachment, which the camera is attached to using a ball joint for further angular adjustments.
When unfolded, the clip has a large lip at the front to hook onto the front of the display. Able to fold a little beyond 180 degrees, the rest of the clip is used to help seat the webcam on top of your display, and can be used to pin it in place for thin notebook-style setups.
While the design is already more than adequate to stay in place on a monitor, there is also a rubber material on the inside of the clip for added traction.
If you don't intend to hook it onto anything, the webcam sits neatly on the clip when folded and closed.
If you have a tripod, there's a screw mount on the clip's rear segment so it can mount on that accessory. You can further open the clip and adjust the ball joint if you need to perfect the angle.
A good image
At the front of the webcam is the camera, which looks impressive with its 0.75-inch diameter. A lot of this circle is for show, as the camera lens is only a few millimeters wide in the middle of that section.
The camera is a 2-megapixel CMOS sensor, which isn't a mind-blowing resolution but enough to provide a 1080p picture.
Rather than just sticking with a reasonable sensor resolution, the CMOS sensor also has an autofocus capability. Rather than trying to keep everything in focus, the webcam focuses on the frame's main subject.
The autofocus does help improve the resulting picture, and it is reasonably quick to react to changes that would necessitate a refocus of the image. There are rare occasions where it tries to refocus despite no seeming need to do so, but they are unusual instances.
Out of the box and without any real attempt at improving the lighting in the room, the webcam does a very good job at trying to expose the image well in a fairly dim room, with the bulk of the light stemming from the monitor. There's a little bit of noise in the image, but it's still an extremely serviceable feed for video conferencing.
However, after turning on extra lighting used for streaming with other cameras, the Iris does struggle a bit. It takes only a little bright light to start to overexpose areas of the picture, especially shiny parts of the face, which isn't ideal.
Overexposure wasn't just a problem with artificial lighting. Using the light from the window, it entered overexposure territory once again.
This could benefit users who don't particularly want to litter their workspace with extra videography equipment, especially if they have a decently bright screen to work with.
As a simple webcam, there are no control apps or settings you can use to curtail this exposure, but a third-party webcam management app may likely be able to correct this.
Microphones and noise cancellation
Onboard the webcam are dual stereo microphones, a pair of audio pickups that reside in the holes at the front of the camera.
As a further party trick, the microphones have built-in noise cancellation to reduce background noise while letting the user's voice be heard.
The audio quality was good in testing if a little thin with minimal base. The noise cancellation worked to dull down the sound of a nearby fan, though it was still audible compared to a silent room.
However, due to the lack of configurable elements of the webcam, you cannot turn off active noise cancellation at all. This may be an annoyance, but you still get good-enough sound for meetings through it.
To help ease those who are fearful that they may be spied on through a webcam, Alogic includes a privacy cover for the camera. Attached in the top right corner of the circular "lens," the plastic cover rotates anticlockwise to cover the element completely.
This is not an entirely high-tech solution to the problem, as it simply blocks the view and almost all light reaching the camera sensor while still keeping the sensor active. In communications apps, others will see an almost black screen with lighter regions as the camera sensor attempts to expose what little light it can see from the edges.
As well as keeping the imaging sensor alive, deploying the privacy cover does nothing to affect the microphones, as they're still active as usual. With the cap on, you won't be seen, but you will still be heard.
A lack of control
The Alogic Iris is a good-enough webcam to upgrade your setup if you're lacking a 1080p imaging device. There's little to fault a small camera intended for video conferencing, as you can't expect 4K or RED sensor quality for that sort of thing.
You get a lot from the camera for its $69 price, including Mac-like elements of its design and a no-nonsense approach to setting it up and using it.
Its failings, namely its tendency to overexpose and a noise cancellation system that you cannot turn off, are drawn from this focus on making it as simple to use as possible.
This could potentially be solved by introducing an app or extra settings where users could fine-tune the picture and audio if they wish.
There's an awful lot of good in the Alogic Iris webcam. It just needs to introduce a little more control, and it could be an excellent webcam.
- 1080p camera with autofocus
- Privacy cover
- Stereo noise-canceling microphones
- Good picture quality
- Styling matches the Mac aesthetic
- Tendency to overexpose
- Unable to change any device settings
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Where to buy
The Alogic Iris webcam is available from Alogic's store, priced at $69.