Dell’s versatile UltraSharp 4K webcam uses AI to keep you in the frame

The UltraSharp shown on its two included mounts.
Image: Dell

Dell has launched a high-end UltraSharp webcam that costs $199.99 and is available now worldwide. Its cylindrical design is reminiscent of Apple’s old but iconic iSight external webcam, but its features are aimed to compete with Logitech’s Brio and other modern 4K-ready webcams. In addition, it aims to serve as a more affordable and easier-to-set up alternative to mounting a DSLR camera behind your monitor.

The UltraSharp is a USB-C webcam that houses a Sony STARVIS CMOS 8.3-megapixel sensor. It’s capable of recording or streaming in 4K at 30 or 24 frames per second and in 1080p or 720p at 24, 30, or 60 frames per second. You can tweak the field of view (FOV) between 65 degrees for a close crop, 78 degrees, or 90 degrees for the widest crop available. The webcam has a bevy of auto-light correction features that aim to make your picture look good regardless of your lighting. It supports up to 5x digital zoom and has autofocus. Dell claims the UltraSharp offers the best image quality in its class.

The USB-C cable can be routed through the monitor mount for easy cable management.
Image: Dell

This webcam can work without drivers on Windows 10 or macOS computers, but many of its features are accessible only in Dell’s Peripheral Manager software. One of the most appealing features that the software unlocks is the AI auto-framing mode that lets it follow your movements to keep you centered in the frame. The webcam doesn’t actually move, but the video feed appeared to pan and deliver smooth, seamless motion tracking during a live demo shown to The Verge. (The GIF below is an accurate portrayal.) A similar feature has appeared recently in Amazon’s new Echo Show smart displays and the latest iPad Pro, and it’s a perk that currently sets Dell’s webcam apart from the rest.

Other noteworthy features include its infrared sensor that can log you in to your PC via Windows Hello facial recognition. It also has a proximity sensor that, on Dell PCs, can take advantage of the company’s Express Sign-In feature that can log you in and out automatically depending on whether you’re sitting at your PC or not.

The UltraSharp includes a standard monitor mount as well as a tripod mount. It can connect magnetically to either one. (There’s also a magnetic lens cap included.) The monitor mount seems like it’ll be a solid option for most — even for people who own monitors with the slimmest of bezels. And for streamers or people who are looking for a specific angle, it’s great to have the option to easily put it on a tripod.

But $199.99 isn’t cheap for a webcam, and I haven’t even gotten to its biggest omission: it doesn’t have an internal microphone. Dell said it was focused primarily on optics for this model, so you’ll need to source your own microphone — whether that’s a standalone USB or XLR mic or a headset. That might be a deal-breaker for some, but mic aside, this one’s stacked with enough thoughtful features that might make it worth the price still. We’ll be testing this one, so check back for more in-depth impressions soon.

Comments

Looks like Dell is selling a 4k version of the original Apple iSight camera!

Thought the same thing. And I think it’s great!

How about a link to purchase it! What mic should I get along with this? Replacing Logitech webcam

The link in the YouTube video description is https://dell.to/3drpwuK but Verge feel free to delete this when you post an affiliate link!

If you’re budget constrained Lenovo do a solid cheap offering. Full HD, Windows Hello enabled and comes with a privacy shutter all for about £35ish (currently quite a bit cheaper). It’s obviously not the most whizz bang but it’s been quite alright for my use I’ve found
https://www.lenovo.com/gb/en/accessories-and-monitors/webcams-and-video/webcams/NET-BO-500-FHD-Webcam/p/GXC0X89769

Since you need to install Dell’s bloatware to enable "auto-frame", it’s probably a "dumb" camera and all the "AI" is performed in software on your PC. And the only "AI" appears to be face-tracking, which isn’t exactly ground-breaking.

As for the "Sony STARVIS CMOS 8.3-megapixel sensor" – that line of sensors normally targets home security cameras. So you’re paying $199 for a web camera, without a microphone, a sensor from a home security camera, and some software that automatically crops the image around your face.

This used to be a feature on Kinect and Skype, where it made sense since you were sitting far away from your Kinect camera on your couch. Not sure it makes sense on an iPad or a desktop.

"This webcam can work without drivers on Windows 10 or macOS computers, but many of its features are accessible only in Dell’s Peripheral Manager software"

you had me until Dell’s Peripheral Manager software

sorry but I dont trust dell software, in he past it has been buggy, bloated, sending un authorised data back to dell and also at one point hacked and replaced with malware…thanks Dell but NO THANKS!

Unfortunately, careless panning is quite distracting (as cinematographers know well), so this will mostly make you look like a goofball.

One would assume it could be disabled and set to a fixed crop if needed.

no microphone is an interesting choice

Sucks about no microphone, but a detachable cable is an interesting choice. I wonder if there is a possibility for a microphone add on that essentially clamps between the camera and base and the USB cable can attach to that.

Damn. Wish this had come out before I bought my Kaysuda webcam for Windows hello. The login works, but the quality of the webcam is atrocious.

Why would they put in all this work and leave out a microphone? It’s even large enough to have beam forming mics for better noise cancellation.

I’d absolutely buy one if it had a microphone, even if it’s a bit overkill for my use
It’s weird to not include one

Nice to have options, but personally, I still don’t see the point for spending $200 to look clearer in an online meeting. I feel like less resolution is better. I don’t need my colleagues to see my unshaved face in HD or 4K.

I mean if you’re going to shell out for one… at least futureproof it (within your means). No point in buying something like this that can’t have multiple uses.

It lacks a built-in microphone

This is just baffling. I recently bought a BRIO and it would have been a no go without a mic.

Dell outsources their software to an Indian firm. Typically buggy, ugly design, resource heavy, feature poor and who knows what else. No thanks.

I just received this webcam and the quality is great. However, it appears the Dell Peripheral Manager software does not appear to be available for macOS. So no HDR, no way to crop the image (it’s super wide compared to my old webcam) and no special tracking.

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