With COVID-19 and the work-from-home culture that was accelerated throughout the last 18 months having a decent camera for video calls has become the expectation for most companies (especially those with a consulting arm). For the majority of lockdown I have been using an iPhone 10 and Camo Studio software to provide my video, however its limitations around application support (not to mention having to unlock the phone when its mounted to a stand behind the desk), I figured it was time to upgrade and add something new (and more practical) to the mix. The Dell UltraSharp camera (WB7022) ticked the box, or at least appeared to at first glance.
The first thing to note with this camera is that the packaging looks smart, especially in comparison to older cameras I own (looking at you Logitech). The size of the packaging gives some indication to the size of the camera, though I still maintain I expected the camera to be smaller than it is. The magnetic lid on the box is a nice touch, even if it is somewhat wasteful given the recycling aspect.
Opening the box reveals the true size of the camera, with a very clean aesthetic (hiding the included cable and mount underneath). It's the usual array of protective wrap around the camera and a plastic tray hiding the bits underneath. Included is a USB-A to USB-C cable, the magnetic mount (including a foldable part), and the usual instructions. It's a shame that the cable wasn't USB-C to USB-C with an adapter, but I appreciate that USB-A is still the more common port (though I wonder how many people will run into issues when using a USB 2.0 port).
The quality of the video here is very impressive, and the increased megapixel count and sensor size really does show. It does a really good job of adjusting to a range of colours in the background and shifts in brightness, more so than my iPhone did. One of the big improvements for me (that I could never get quite right using Camo) is how my virtual background (using chroma-keyed wall paint) actually renders more consistently (even with subtle brightness changes). Calls at 1080p (as before) have visibly improved using the OOTB settings, with recipients noting how my video looks both cleaner and clearer.
macOS (and the challenges)
Unfortunately (as with most things) there always tends to be a downside... In this instance, its the lack of proper support for macOS. When the webcam was first released there was talk of it being supported on macOS and even their product page listed macOS (now removed). Like many, I purchased the camera with a view that the camera would work above the basic video functionality, which sadly isn't the case. While the camera does show up within macOS and can be opened as a video capture device, the lack of Dell-specific software removes the additional functionality such as auto-framing and changing the field-of-view. For most (including myself), the next step is to see what can be found on the App Store to try and remedy the situation. Using an app such as "Webcam Settings" provides some level of camera control (enoughf or most cases) however it does on occasion cause a full lock-up of the camera and breaks part of the macOS driver/video stack (even reconnecting the camera doesn't resolve the breakage). This part by far is the most frustrating, as it requires a system restart to get things functional again (not ideal when you are mid-call presenting to a customer).
For the moment this is my current camera, but the lack of stability when adjusting the settings means this likely will not be a long-term device unless Dell actually release software for it for the macOS platform (highly unlikely). With the new range of cameras from Poly (formerly Polycom) I may switch sooner rather than later, though this time I will check just what level of macOS support they provide.