Computers

How to use your smartphone’s camera as a laptop webcam

It’s time to level up your webcam game!

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We’ve all been there, especially with most of us working remotely at home. You prepared and even dressed well for a Zoom meeting, only to be disappointed by the grainy image when it’s your turn to present. Your laptop’s webcam could be the one to blame — but fret not, there are remedies for that.

Most webcams built into laptops have grainy images because they are of low-resolution types. Going into settings, you’ll realize that most laptop webcams have resolutions of 2MP or less built-in, which is a magnitude worse than your average smartphone selfie camera. There’s only so much that you can do to improve the grainy situation due to the hardware limitation.

Sure, you can buy a dedicated webcam. However, quality dedicated webcams can be costly. Not to mention, they can be hard to find considering the pandemic. Luckily, you don’t have to spend in order to up your webcam game — you can use your smartphone as a webcam instead! For this, you’ll need your smartphone (of course), an app, and a lot of patience.

There are three note-worthy app options for turning your smartphone into a portable webcam. Here are those:

XSplit VCam and Connect Webcam: free, but with caveats

One of the more reputable options out there is XSplit VCam and Connect Webcam. Both are free-to-download software from the reputable maker XSplit. You need to download and install both to get up and running: XSplit VCam is for the desktop, while XSplit Connect Webcam is for mobile. Both the desktop software and mobile app have a nice, no-frills interface which would really get you up and running in minutes.

An option to sign in to XSplit displays upon opening the desktop software, but you can skip this easily. The mobile app presents you with the view of your smartphone’s camera instantly, and there’s an indicator of whether you’re connected with your PC.

To get started, you just need to connect your smartphone and your PC to the same Wi-Fi network and choose your smartphone from the list of cameras. That’s it, basically.

The video quality is good for the most part. You will really notice the “upgrade” from your PC webcam if you’re long used to it.  After all, the app streams your video in HD resolution.

However, take note that you may encounter occasional lags and hiccups from time to time. So if you want a more stable connection, make sure to connect your smartphone via USB.

Like they say, every good thing comes with a price. It’s the same here on XSplit VCam: you have to cough up for a recurring fee of US$ 70/year to remove the watermark it puts on your video stream. The one-time, lifetime fee costs US$ 230. So, those who are averse to paying up should look elsewhere.

Finally, a major caveat: XSplit VCam is only available for Windows. Fortunately, a macOS version is now in beta. Both Android and iOS support the Connect Webcam app, so you’ve got no problem there.

Download XSplit Vcam here.

DroidCam: light but packed with features

DroidCam is another great option to turn your smartphone into a portable webcam. Just like the XSplit VCam, you download the mobile and desktop apps for it to work. Unlike it, though, it is much lighter in file size and doesn’t require any sign-ins. It’s easy to get around the app’s interface — there are only a few buttons to click for you to get going.

To get started, you must connect your phone to the same Wi-Fi network as your PC. Then, you have to enter your smartphone’s IP address and also make sure that the DroidCam port address is one and the same as your smartphone. If all goes well, you’ll see the video feed from your smartphone camera.

Take note, though, that the app doesn’t let you switch cameras once you established a connection with your smartphone. To switch cameras, you have to disconnect first then choose the camera-like icon in the upper right corner of the mobile app.

For a more reliable video feed, you can opt for a USB connection. Here, the process is as simple as selecting your smartphone from a dropdown menu. Once you’ve set it up completely, you will now see your smartphone’s video feed.

There’s also a paid DroidCamX Pro for those who want more features. Pro features include the option for HD mode, which is a bummer since the default resolution maxes out at 480p, though that resolution is still perfectly fine for most.

Some video adjustments such as brightness adjustment and rotation are also pro features. Buying the pro version also removes the ads on mobile apps. Luckily, you only have to pay a one-time fee to access these pro features.

What’s not so great is the lack of macOS support. The desktop app is only available for Windows and Linux. Meanwhile, the mobile app is available for both Android and iOS.

Download DroidCam here.

Works well for macOS and iPhone: Reincubate Camo

If you’ve noticed by now, those two apps don’t offer an app for macOS. This is where Reincubate Camo comes in the picture. Reincubate Camo has a macOS client and a good one too. It offers an extensive set of features for controlling the appearance of your video feed. Plus, it works well on major videoconferencing apps.

That said, this app is should be your go-to if you’re invested in the Apple ecosystem. The app has tons of settings to control your video feed and tweak everything that comes from an iPhone. The mobile app is only available for iOS — iPads included.

Windows users, fortunately, can take advantage of the desktop app. Overall, Reincubate Camo should be the perfect solution for a portable webcam especially if you have an iPhone (or an iPad).

By default, the app settles for 720p HD resolution. However, you can also pay a bit more to unlock 1080p video feeds, which should help with making you look sharper and detailed on video calls. Paying for the pro version of the app also removes the watermark, and gives you extra controls too.

Download Reincubate Camo here.

Other alternatives: using a spare camera, or using the mobile app

Have a spare camera lying around? You can use your camera as a portable webcam, depending on your camera’s manufacturer. Canon and Sony both offer a solution so users can utilize their DSLRs and mirrorless cameras as portable webcams. All you have to do is to download their own software into your PC and follow the given instructions.

If you have a camera that is supported, it might be much better to actually use it as a portable webcam than your smartphone. After all, the quality of most dedicated cameras is still better than smartphones. Some cameras even support up to 4K streaming, which is a big boost for Zoom call quality.

One of the best and easiest ways to upgrade your webcam game is to use your videoconferencing’s mobile apps instead. Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and more are readily downloadable on Android and iOS and offer almost the same set of features found on the desktop app.

You just download the apps, sign in, and viola. However, this setup may not work for some who want all their work apps on the desktop. People have varying workflows, after all.

SEE ALSO: Guide to the best videoconferencing service

In the end, leveling up your webcam game is also a matter of finding what works best for you. There are apps to make your smartphone a portable webcam, apps that let you use your DSLR or mirrorless camera, or just mobile videoconferencing apps.

Just remember that you don’t have to suffer from poor video call quality anymore — an important point to stress out especially today when video calls are now just facts of life.

Computers

macOS Ventura: Favorite New Features

Features that will change the way you work!

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Last WWDC 2022, Apple announced not only new Mac hardware, they’re also thrilled with what macOS Ventura has to offer.

Other than the vibrant wallpaper, there are features that will help you be more productive in doing work.

Watch our roundup of macOS Ventura’s Best New Features!

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Accessories

RAKK launches own ShopeeMall, LazMall stores

Coming this Philippine Independence Day!

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RAKK Mall

Local gaming accessories and peripherals brand RAKK is finally getting their own Lazada and Shopee flagship stores.

RAKK MALL will be available in Shopee Mall and LazMall starting on June 12, 2022 to further boost the brand’s reach and influence.

This means instead of visiting the EASYPC channels, customers may be able to access RAKK’s products like the Pirah Wireless Mechanical Keyboard and Talan Wireless Gaming Mouse easier and purchase them directly from their own official stores.

And for the grand launch on Independence Day, the store is celebrating with a week-long promotion offering fans big discounts, payday and flash sales, and giveaways.

The first customer to purchase from the new RAKK MALL official stores shall receive a free gift along with his or her order.

RAKK will also go live on their official Facebook page during the June 12 launch for product releases, giveaways, and information on their upcoming activities, so don’t miss out.

RAKK Gears launched in 2015, offering gamers a local, affordable alternative for a wide range of gaming products like gaming mice, keyboards, mousepads, and more.

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Accessories

Two Razer gaming mice now ECOLOGO-certified

The Basilisk V3 and DeathAdder Essential

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Razer DeathAdder Essential Ecologo

Razer announced that two of their gaming mice have achieved ECOLOGO certification from global safety science leader UL.

Razer’s Basilisk V3 and DeathAdder Essential became the first gaming peripherals of their kind to gain such seal of approval.

The milestone came quite fittingly in time for this year’s celebration of World Environment Day.

ECOLOGO Certification program

UL’s ECOLOGO certification program looks at products and services and verifies them for reduced environmental impact.

According to UL’s website, the wide variety of criteria include:

  • Materials
  • Energy
  • Manufacturing and operations
  • Health and environment
  • Product performance and use
  • Product stewardship and innovation

For the two gaming mice, UL looked at several sustainability criteria, such as:

  • EU hazardous chemical restricted substance regulations compliance
  • Skin irritation and sensitization assessment
  • Repair and replacement management process
  • Requiring of selective waste treatment to service providers
  • Sustainable packaging

UL also inspected Razer’s facilities to certify that the company’s products were manufactured in environmentally responsible places.

Products which have gained ECOLOGO certification include all-purpose cleaners, hand sanitizers and soaps, furniture polish, and more.

The Razer Basilisk V3 is available starting at PhP 3,495 / SG$ 109.90 while the DeathAdder Essential is priced at PhP 1,995 / SG$ 49.90.

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