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Lifewire / James Huenink
Long USB Cable
Easy to position
Awkward manual focus
The Genius WideCam F100 promises to deliver quality 1080p HD video, but it instead offers pixelated images, echoing sound, and an awkward manual focus wheel.
Inexpensive webcams opened up internet video to the masses. For less than $100, anyone can start recording video and uploading it to their favorite site. There are no fancy camcorders, and you don’t even need a phone to take high quality video and audio.
Which one is right for you? We ran the Genius WideCam F100 through a series of popular tasks to see if it’s right for streaming, recording, or video chat.
The Genius WideCam F100 fits right in the palm of your hand. Most of it is made of black plastic except for the silver plate in front next to the manual focus wheel. The base of the camera unfolds with a rear hinge so you can flip it to a screen. The tension on the hinge is just right, so it moves easily but remains in place. There are several rubbery feet placed on the base and edges to keep the camera steady on slippery surfaces and when mounted on a screen.
The Genius WideCam F100 can turn 360 degrees, giving it enough flexibility to point the webcam wherever you want it to go. Instead of turning loosely, the camera turns click-by-click through stages all the way around. It leans forwards and backwards smoothly, leaning 50 degrees forward from center and 40 degrees backward.
Produces a noisy image in both video and stills, no matter what light or setting.
The Genius WideCam F100 has a long USB A cable coming out of the back of the camera section, 62-inches long. It also comes with a 62-inch USB extension cable, so the combined length is 124-inches. The range makes this camera easy to use in a conference room setting where a computer may be several feet away from the screen.
The Genius Widecam F100 is easy to set up. Just plug the USB cable into the USB port, and it’s ready to go. All we had to do was pull up an app like Skype or Photobooth, and it worked.
It was nearly as easy to clip the camera to a laptop or HD TV. We just unfolded the base and set the camera on top, with the base resting against the back of the monitor. It was more awkward with a laptop screen because they're so thin; we had to take more care balancing it to not tilt the screen forward or back. Even with that extra effort, setup is still very simple.
The Genius website says that the camera delivers a 12 megapixel resolution, but that’s interpolated. That means that the camera’s software scales up the 2 megapixel image to fit 12 megapixels. The scaling isn't great either, producing a noisy image in both video and stills, no matter what light or setting.
Genius claims that the WideCam F100 has a 120 degree field of view, but we found it to be much less. We placed the camera 10 inches from the wall and then measured the width of the image, 21 inches. This means the actual viewing angle is just over 90 degrees. That’s still wider than most webcams but not close to the 120 degrees Genius promised. Wide angle cameras are famous for distortion, and this webcam is no different. The farther the image goes from the center, the more straight lines look curved. It's a big deal for high-res photos, but it won’t make a difference in video calling.
We tested the Genius WideCam F100 by using Skype to make video calls and Photo Booth to take stills and record video. The manual focus camera is difficult to use. The focus ring is small, and there isn’t a way to grip it without covering up the lens, which makes it difficult to focus. We had to turn the ring a bit and then pull a hand away, and we repeated the process until the camera was in focus. Even once we had the camera in focus, it still didn’t look sharp. The pixelation from the interpolation process still made the image look blurry.
The field of view is wide, which would make this webcam excellent for a call with a lot of people in the room. That same wide angle lens makes it less useful when there’s just one person in the shot—the camera shows so much of the room that it’s distracting.
With the heavy pixelation from the interpolation software, the image just isn’t as good as many cameras in this price range.
The camera does a great job with white balance. We tried the camera with a light source behind the subject, with natural light, and in indoor lighting, and the camera quickly found the right white balance for the situation every time. The only time it was a little off was in very low light.
When we used Skype for video chat, the voice transmission sounded like we were in a long tunnel. Voices echoed and sounded muffled. Still, the microphone was able to focus on our voices even in a noisy room or with loud video games in the background.
The Genius WideCam F100’s MSRP is $60, which is a lot for a camera of this quality. With the heavy pixelation from the interpolation software, the image just isn’t as good as many cameras in this price range. While the wide-angle lens is a bonus, it doesn't justify the cost.
Logitech C615: The Logitech C615 is an excellent alternative to the Genius WideCam F100. The autofocus lens offers sharp, HD video, and the design is superior. With an MSRP of $70, it only costs $10 more than the Genius WideCam F100, and easily outperforms the WideCam F100.
Besteker 1536P: The Besteker 1536P Full HD Webcam has a much better camera, sporting a 1536p resolution. While the Genius claims to be HD, it's very pixelated, while the Besteker webcam takes sharp photos and video. This webcam has only manual focus, which can be a positive or negative depending on what you want. You can find it for approximately $70, about $10 more than you'd pay for the Genius WideCam F 100. The sharp picture and comparative price makes the Besteker a better choice.
Too much money for underperforming audio and video.
If you just looked at the stats for the Genius WideCam F100, you’d think that this webcam was a great deal, getting a wide-angle lens with HD video for only $59.99. But the stats try to hide pixelated video, echoing sound, and an awkward manual focus wheel. It’s hard to recommend the Genius WideCam F100 when you can get a much higher quality webcam for nearly the same price.
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