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Lifewire / James Huenink
Difficult to adjust
Poor quality video
Poor quality audio
The Docooler USB 2.0 12 Megapixel webcam promises HD video and quality sound, but it delivers low quality audio and video with flimsy housing.
80’s movies promised a lot of cool future tech that hasn’t appeared. We’re not riding on hoverboards, nor do our cars fly. The one thing we did get is inexpensive and simple video calling. The Docooler USB 2.0 12 Megapixel promises to make that a reality with an HD camera for the lowest cost in its class. Can this dirt-cheap camera deliver on its promise to connect us in HD?
The first thing we noticed about the Docooler USB 2.0 12 Megapixel is how cheap it feels. The camera itself has a plastic, silver housing with a shiny silver focus ring on the end. It feels like it could break at any moment. The base is made of a transparent plastic, which is also available in blue and black. The plastic is so rigid that we expect it to break under regular use. Every time we adjusted the camera, the plastic creaked like a rusty door in a haunted house. Even in our short testing period, the joints started getting loose. We had to check several times just to make sure it wasn’t broken.
The base looks like a binder clip with a hinge on the back end. The front of the camera houses the focus ring, which twists to focus in or out but doesn’t turn very smoothly. When we used it for the first time, it didn’t feel like it was supposed to rotate at all. Just like everything else, the focus ring feels like it will crack or fall out at any moment. One side of the clip has a squishy pad to keep the camera from slipping when it’s mounted on a smooth surface. The two are connected by a ball joint, which allows the camera to spin around 360 degrees and tilt approximately 15 degrees forward or backward or side to side.
It takes almost no time to get the Docooler USB 2.0 12 Megapixel up and running. We just plugged the USB cord into the computer and it worked.
It was easy to set up when we clipped it to a laptop, but terrible when we tried to put it on our HD TV. Every time we moved the computer or the USB cable, the camera slid, twisted, or fell off the TV. The ball joint, which connects the camera to the base, didn’t move smoothly, so we struggled to point the Docooler USB 2.0 12 Megapixel in the right direction, and we were too worried about breaking the plastic to try and force it.
The Docooler USB 2.0 12 Megapixel is advertised as a 12 megapixel camera capable of HD video, but it wasn’t even close to that. We tested the resolution by taking photos through photobooth, and they were only 640 x 480, or .31 megapixels. We tested the video resolution by using an online webcam testing tool, and it showed exactly the same results. The manufacturer claims the camera has 38 times more resolution than it actually does. We should have known that the manufacturer’s claims were too good to be true given the $8 asking price, but claiming a disparity that huge is really brazen.
The Docooler USB 2.0 12 Megapixel is advertised as a 12 megapixel camera capable of HD video, but it wasn’t even close to that.
We tested the camera’s field of view by placing it 13.5 inches from a wall and measuring the field of view, 8.25 inches. After running those measurements through some trigonometric calculations, we found that it has a 34 degree field of view. The camera also has a surprising amount of distortion. Vertical lines in the background had a significant tilt backwards, and we saw tremendous barrel distortion everywhere except for the very center of the image.
We used Photobooth and Skype to test out the video and audio performance using the webcam for recording and conference calls. It was difficult to position the Docooler USB 2.0 12 Megapixel correctly, because by the time we clipped it on and sat down, the camera had slipped out of position. This happened several times before we finally resigned ourselves to using a tilted camera in our calls.
The limited field of view and the distortions weren’t a problem when we tried a single-person call, but it would be a big problem for a group. It would be difficult to get everyone into the picture unless your table was very narrow and far away from the camera.
The image and audio quality are both terrible, and the camera is difficult to use.
We had trouble getting the focus right, too. The focus ring was hard to turn, so we had to put our hand over the lense to get a good grip. We turned the ring a little, and then we’d pull away to check the focus. Then we’d repeat until it was ready, a frustrating experience.
The audio performance of the Docooler USB 2.0 12 Megapixel was also lackluster. The built-in microphone produced poor quality sound, and when we tested it on Skype, voices were both muffled and echoey. People on the other end could understand what we were saying, but it was an unpleasant experience.
The Docooler USB 2.0 12 Megapixel is the most inexpensive webcam you can buy, ranging from $8 up to around $15, but there’s a reason it’s priced so low. The image and audio quality are both terrible, and the camera is difficult to use.
Logitech C270: The Logitech C270 is a low-cost webcam that goes for $40 MSRP, though you can frequently find it for approximately $20. For $10 more than the Docooler, you get a big upgrade. It has 720p video calling and takes photos at 3MP. The microphone filters out background noise, so it shouldn’t have the same echo effects as the Docooler Web Cam. Even though it’s twice the price, you get a lot more camera for your ten bucks.
HXSJ USB Webcam 480P HD: We were most disappointed with the false claims about the Docooler webcam’s resolution, but HXSJ sells what looks like the same camera with honest advertising. In fact, the design, the frame, and just about everything else looks nearly identical to the Docooler webcam. Even the price is close to the same. We think the honest claims about the HXSJ should be rewarded, so we’d definitely recommend buying this camera over the Docooler.
Coromose USB 50MP HD: The Coromose USB 50MP HD looks exactly like the Docooler USB 2.0 12 Megapixel, down to the last detail. The base and camera look exactly alike, even the writing on the focus ring, and they go for about the same price, $8. There is no way, however, that this camera can do 50MP. It’s the same camera saddled even more egregious, deceptive marketing.
Impossible to recommend.
The Docooler USB 2.0 12 Megapixel is one of the most inexpensive cameras on the market for a reason. This camera doesn’t come close to delivering what it promises, meaning it's not worth even the trifle you'd pay for it.