Why Using an External Webcam Beats Built-in Webcams Hands Down

In the early days of modern computers (circa 1990), webcams were non-existent on computers altogether. In fact, the first commercial webcam didn’t enter the marketplace until 1994, was black-and-white, and was designed for the Apple Macintosh by a U.S. company called Connectix. Today, every laptop computer comes with a built-in webcam, and it’s pretty much a given that everyone uses the webcam on their laptops for everything from videoconferencing to live video streaming. As an online teacher, it’s one of the most important pieces of hardware in your computer.

Laptops are excellent portable devices, and a must for any traveling online teacher. For most online teachers though, we recommend using a desktop computer because desktops are much more affordable, customizable, and upgradeable. Plus, if something breaks or stops working in your desktop computer, there’s a good chance you can get it repaired or replaced without breaking the bank. Not so with laptops.

Online teachers who opt for a desktop computer need little convincing that they need to buy an external webcam. It’s just one of the hardware components they’ll have on their shopping list when buying a desktop. Laptop users though? Different story. There’s this built-in webcam usually placed right above the display. Usually, built-in webcams aren’t that good. But they get the job done.

Now, if anyone tries to convince you that your built-in webcam isn’t good enough for teaching online, don’t worry – it probably is. You will get by just fine with the built-in webcam in your laptop computer.

So then why get an external webcam? There are more reasons that you might think. Here’s why:

You Can Get Higher Video Quality

Higher Quality Video For Online Lessons

OK. This one is … obvious. But, many online teachers want better video quality when they teach. Using decent external webcam to teach online means both you and your students will notice the difference: clearer, brighter video with higher definition, and thus more detail. A higher quality webcam also helps significantly with common lighting issues online teachers deal with when using a built-in webcam. Since good external webcams will make you appear brighter on screen, your lighting woes teaching with a built-in webcam will diminish – or even better – disappear. Begone lighting woes!

Bottom Line: Do you want to look and feel better on screen? If yes, an external webcam will give you that.


You Can Get More Versatile

External Webcam Versatile Online Teaching

One of the biggest bonuses of using an external webcam is that you can place it almost anywhere. Unlike built-in webcams, external webcams are not constrained. You can clip them at the top of your screen, place them on a table, or attach them to a tripod and get even more versatility. Whether you stand or sit while teaching, you’ll be able to position your webcam to match your height. That means you can get your webcam set up in the right position for your workspace, without having to slide and turn your computer. Not to mention, if you want to show your online students something on the other side of the room, all you need to do is turn the webcam around. Now, isn’t that funky?

Bottom Line: With an external webcam for teaching online, you’re the boss, not your laptop. The sky is the limit.

You Can Improve Eye-Contact with Your Online Students

Webcam Important For Online Esl Teachers

One of the common challenges online teachers have when they teach online lessons is that they tend to look at themselves on the screen rather than at their built-in webcam. That’s because your built-in webcam is most likely smack in the top center above your laptop screen.

Thanks to the versatility external webcams offer, you can place the webcam where your students are on screen, and voilà, you have eye contact. Yes, you can train yourself to look at your laptop’s built-in webcam and ignore your students – one way or another, you’re not looking at them.

Bottom Line: Want to improve eye-contact with your students (and get higher ratings as an online teacher)? This one is a no-brainer.

You Can Look Up Instead of Looking Down at Your Webcam

Built In Webcam Slouch

Neck, back, and eye strain are no laughing matter. Laptop computers give us portability, but that portability usually comes at the cost of ergonomics. Most people, when using their laptops, have to look down at the webcam, which means if you’re using a built-in webcam, you slouch when you teach online. This is because the webcam is perfectly positioned – to peer up your nose.

Bottom Line: Slouch no more. External webcams have got your back. Place the webcam at your eye-level and take back control of your posture. Things are looking up, finally, and so are you. Look up at your external webcam (and hide that double chin).

You Can Use Your More of Your Work Space (Or Use Your Work Space More Effectively)

Green Screen External Webcam

External webcams typically capture a wider range than built-in webcams, so that means you have more space to introduce props and other teaching aids, do more exciting things with a green screen, and even move around your workspace, especially if you stand while teaching online.

Bottom Line: Why not do more with the same space? An external webcam can help you maximize your space for teaching online, and get you doing more physical activities.

Seeing is Believing

A picture is worth a thousand words, so it’s reasonable to say a video is worth more. Thanks to Producer/Director Scott Silva for sharing this awesome video, comparing the difference between a built-in webcam and an external webcam. Have a look for yourself:

As you can see, the difference in video quality between Scott’s built-in webcam and external webcam are remarkable. 

Best Affordable Webcams for Teaching Online

High-end webcams can get as expensive as $200 – $300. This isn’t a reasonable amount to spend if you’re buying a webcam specifically for teaching online. However, the money you invest in an external webcam will be a significant improvement on your laptop’s built-in webcam, and if you are using a desktop computer, you’ll need one anyways. But there’s more…

A high-definition webcam will typically require less lighting than a low-resolution webcam, all other factors being equal.

Each of these affordable webcams for online teaching fit comfortably under $120 and have excellent video quality and functionality.

Our Pick of the Best Affordable Webcams for Online Teachers

Photo Title Price Buy
Logitech C920 Hd...image Logitech C920 Hd Pro Webcam (Black) Black $74.00
ANTZZON 1080P Full...image ANTZZON 1080P Full HD Webcam, Built-in Noise Reduction Microphone Stream Webcam for Video Conferencing, Online Work&Course,YouTube, Recording and Streaming,Suit for Microsoft Teams
USB 2.0 HD...image USB 2.0 HD Pro Widescreen Video Full 1080p Webcam with Built in Microphone and Flex Stand for Windows PC, Laptops and Apple OS X $35.99
Webcam 1080P HD...image Webcam 1080P HD with Microphone: USB Webcam Plug and Play, for Streaming, Gaming, Run on Skype, YouTube, Zoom, Facetime, Team, OBS and Conferencing $27.99
PC Webcam, TedGem...image PC Webcam, TedGem 1080P Full HD Webcam USB Desktop & Laptop Webcam Live Streaming Webcam with Microphone Widescreen HD Video Webcam 90-Degree Extended View for Video Calling (HD Webcam)… (Black) $48.99
  • Full HD 1080p video that's faster, smoother and works on more computers.   Skype in Full HD 1080p Get breathtaking Full HD 1080p video calls on Skype for the sharpest video-calling experience.   Smoother. Sharper. Richer. Clearer. Logitech Fluid Crystal Technology. It's what makes a Logitech webcam better.
  • Logitech partnered with Skype(TM) to deliver high-definition 1080p resolution with the C920 webcam
  • Record videos in widescreen Full HD 1080p at 30 frames per second
  • The same H.264 encoded compression that enables high-definition video calls with Skype, also lets you capture great videos
  • Smooth video quality, rich colors and clear sound in real-world environments are produced by Logitech Fluid Crystal technology
  • Webcam HD 1080p - Full HD 1080P Network camera that can have conversation in voice and HD video calls with more video frames per second than other HD webcams and video recording and video calling in 16:9 widescreen.
  • Snap and Share Clear Pics - High definition 1920*1080p full high definition picture taking. 2.0 super-large Aperture,adjustable zoom and Luxury HD five glass coating lens enhanced the pixels up to 12MP.The picture quality is simply amazing.
  • Built-in Noise-Cancelling Microphone - Ausdom AW615 is equipped with an omnidirectional microphone, coupled with noise reduction function that filters out external background noise, making the sound purer and clearer, thus, it is the best choice of a video conference to output sound clearly even in a noisy environment.
  • Simple to Use - USB 3.0 / USB 2.0 connector for plug-and-play, easy to use. Designed with a flexible bendable clip, it’s suitable for multi-angle placement needs for monitors, laptop, desktop, desk or other flat surfaces.
  • Useful Extensively - Work on most social media platforms, Skype, MSN Messenger, Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo Video Messenger, etc. Compatible with Windows7, Windows XP2, Windows 8, Windows 10, Windows Vista, MAC OS10.6 or updated version.
  • Full HD 1080p Webcam outputting a 1920 x 1080 high resolution image with internal noise-canceling microphone. Can be used as an external camera for laptop, or desktop USB webcam for YouTube video recording, document capture, FaceTime / Skype video chatting, and more!
  • Our unique five-element heat resistant lens prevents defocusing problems caused by other brands. Maintain a crystal clear image for the full duration of your calls! Features a manual focus lens, adjustable by twisting the focus ring left / right as needed.
  • Internal noise canceling microphone can be selected as a USB audio input in your video chatting and recording software. Filters out low-frequency sound created by household appliances, such as refrigerators and traffic.
  • Can be used as a OS X / MacOS webcam, or Windows webcam. Plug and play USB 3.0 / USB 2.0 installation, with additional drivers available on our website. Supports OS X 10.5+ & Windows XP / 2000 / 2003 / Vista / 7 / 8 / 10
  • USA Based Company. We stand behind our products 100% and are happy to answer whatever support questions you may have!
  • Full HD glass lens, true-to-life Panoramic HD 1080P at 30 Fps, optimized design for professional video conferencing, social vedio, gaming video, video calling and video recordings
  • Free Spedal webcam software: Has 40 scene and effects available for free to help you deliver captivating live videos. Personalize your videos and image effect by adding your custom digital props! The Sepdal webcam software has been developed for Windows and Mac versions and is also compatible with webcam from other brands
  • Compatible with windows 7, 8, 10 and above, mac os 10.6 and above, chrome os, smart tv, android 5.0 or later etc, compatible with skype, obs, youtube, facebook, twitch, facetime, zoom, xbox one, hangouts and more
  • 100°wide-angle advanced glass lens combined with 360° horizontal & 180° vertical rotation range creates a complete 720°coverage,and new upgraded 720° gimbal base makes this webcam capture complete panoramic scenes with zero blind spots
  • Manual focus and automatic low light correction, record clear video even in dim situation. 1-year warranty
  • ❤Full HD 1080P Recording-Stream media and record vivid, high-definition 1080p video, capturing the most exciting details at every 30fps, providing incredible 1080P HD capture of clear images, , and 90 ° wide-angle lens reduces dead angles. .264 video compression technology, fast transmission, high quality, simultaneous autofocus and light correction, glass lens and Full HD function,means that your recorded video is clear and vivid, and colorful.
  • ❤Best universal compatibility-TedGem PCHD webcam works with Windows 7/8/10, Mac OSX, Linux, Chrome OS, Ubuntu and Android 4.0 or higher operating systems: Supports PCs, laptops with USB ports, Laptop, desktop, Android TV, and Skype, yahoo! @messenger, MSN, Windows live @ Messenger, Gmail, Android IPTV, WeChat, QQ and other instant messaging applications are compatible.
  • ❤Easy plug and play-USB driver and automatic installation. Usb 2.0 connector, it can be easily set up in only 5 minutes, no need to download or install complicated driver software, which means you don't need to set up any specific driver or software. You can plug and play. Importantly, our desktop PC cameras are compatible with built-in mounting clips and tripod threads, and you can connect it to almost everything you can think of. Whether on an LED display, a laptop cover or a desk.
  • ❤Built-in stereo microphone-video webcam Built-in noise reduction microphone, TedGem HD webcam can automatically eliminate background noise and clearly capture sound within 5 meters, and achieve studio-quality sound, is the best choice for video conference output Medium sounds clear.
  • ❤STORAGEEXPANSION-You can create copy move delete rename open mode and many more features. Play video / music through card reader on SD / TF card, backup and restore all the main file formats of your contact list, document viewer, voice recorder and text editor. It can help you free up space on your SD card like an external storage extension. You can easily carry the 3-in-1 card reader with you anywhere.

Level Up Your Online Teaching with an Affordable Webcam

Each individual is going to have a specific budget, room ambiance, and a unique computer and lighting setup, but if we had to recommend one of these webcams, our pick would be the Ausdom AW615 due to its superior video quality and relative affordability.

However, if you can afford the difference in price and are willing to make the investment, it’s really hard to beat the Logitech C920. While it is the most expensive in our lineup, it is relatively affordable compared with other high-end Logitech webcams, and with this you’re getting a product from a reputable brand.

As an online teacher, your goal is not the same as video bloggers and others who live stream and need a high-end webcam a such. For most online teachers, the goal is to improve on video quality offered by built-in webcams without breaking the bank. Our recommended webcams for online teachers accomplish, and all but one are under $80.

Another thing to consider is that while webcams and video recording quality have come a long way, the changes from one year to the next are not significant, and most likely won’t make much of a difference to you as an online teacher using an external webcam. What this means is you don’t have to buy the latest and greatest webcam to achieve great results. You don’t have to buy the newest webcam model. Instead, you can pay less for a slightly older model and still get the improved quality an external webcam offers over your computer’s built-in webcam.

Our goal is to keep things affordable for online teachers, so you can focus on improving your delivery as well as book more lessons and earn more money as an online teacher.

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