When COVID-19 hit full force and so many of us started working from home, the available stock of webcams almost instantly disappeared. Ultra-HD webcams like Logitech's Brio went from curiosity to essential overnight. I was fortunate enough to have a different option, and dug through my box of tangled cords to pull out an ancient, decade-old Logitech C200 to put it back in active rotation. It's got garish design and practically prehistoric specs, so have I thought about upgrading? No, not for a second.
The pride of 2009, my trusty Logitech sports a VGA image sensor that can churn out a hefty 1.3MP image—with software enhancement. For standard video chat, perched atop the monitor for my desktop PC, it instead provides a workmanlike stream 640 x 480 standard definition stream with a frame rate like a flipbook. You can still find one on eBay for about $20 bucks.
But despite its utterly antediluvian specs, the C200 does everything I need it to do. It's got USB (2.0!) for plugging into my desktop, and a clip for sitting atop my monitor and positioning at whatever angle I choose—which no laptop webcam can match. Its venerable drivers still cooperate wonderfully with Windows 10. And its image quality, while certainly poor, is astoundingly adequate, more than good enough to assure colleagues I am alive and conscious while its on-board mic provides positively intelligible sound. All that for about $20, or whatever the hell I actually paid for this thing back when Lost was still airing.
Its deficiencies I find equal parts charming and useful. It's fun (to me) to be teleported back to a Myspace mindset whenever I drop into a Google Hangout. And while it may be irritating that the resolution isn't high enough to render individual beard hairs and pores in great detail—haha I'm just kidding! That part rules!!
Unfortunately I know I'm an outlier. I suspect most people couldn't as easily get away with the kind of technological tomfoolery that comes part and parcel with my job description. Appearing in a pixelated haze might reflect problematically poorly on more professional professions. But why should it!?
There are plenty of actual reasons to want a high-quality stream, whether it's so grandma and grandpa can make out more than a grandkid-shaped smudge, or for putting out footage for public consumption. But for a 9am staff meeting in a Brady Bunch grid, I'll opt for the absolute utmost adequacy.