Windows Hello and 4K recording make the Logitech Brio sound like a standout webcam, but you can’t do much with the footage
Excellent image quality and great Windows Hello performance, but a high price and iffy build quality let this camera down
4K HAS BEEN a bit of a slow burner, but there are signs that it’s starting to grow in popularity, with an increased number of TVs and monitors running at the resolution. Now, we have the world’s first 4K and High Dynamic Range (HDR) webcam, the Logitech Brio.
With its rounded edges and slim design, the Brio certainly looks the part. It’s something of a shame, then, that the accompanying accessories are rather cheap. Take the monitor stand: this bit of rubber is designed to bend over the top of a screen, letting the Brio sit on top. It’s rather cheap looking, and not up to the quality of stands provided with previous Logitech cameras.
It’s also rather fiddly to get into position, particularly if you want to angle the Brio properly, so that it records your entire face rather than just the top of your head. We managed to get there in the end, but we expect better on a premium webcam.
Logitech provides a clip-on privacy filter for the camera. That sounds rather exciting, but it’s just a bit of plastic that clips on top of the camera, giving you a flap that you can fold down in front of the lens. If anything, it feels like a last-minute addition, rather than something purposefully designed. Still, if
you’re worried who may be looking at you through your camera (you wouldn’t be alone: Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg famously covers his webcam), it’s a handy thing to have. It’s just a shame that it also spoils the looks of the camera.
It’s good to see that the Brio uses a USB Type-C connection, with a cable that converts to regular USB provided in the box. That gives a certain amount of flexibility and will make the Brio easier to use with the next generation of laptops.
HERE’S LOOKING AT YOU
Out of the box, the Brio works with Windows 10, but it’s limited to recording at 20fps at 4K. Download and install the Logitech Camera Settings app, and you can get the full 30fps recording at Ultra HD resolutions.
From here, you can toggle HDR, and zoom and pan (it’s digital, rather than optical). You can change the field of view, although the default 90º angle works well, capturing everything with ease.
Image quality is excellent, with HDR working well to pick up all details in the picture. Colour reproduction is top notch, too, and it’s fair to say that what appears on screen looks the same as in real life. Indeed, this is an impressive webcam.
The downside at the moment is that there are few apps that can actually use 4K resolutions. The most popular video apps, Skype and Google Hangouts, don’t support Ultra HD at the moment. That’s not to say that the quality goes to waste: high-quality 4K content downscaled to HD still looks great, and the colour reproduction still shines through. But if you want 4K content, you’re limited to recording it yourself and uploading or live streaming to YouTube.
Logitech also provides its Background Replacement software for this camera, which can change your background automatically. You have to download and install Background Replacement from the web, but it doesn’t actually install an app. Instead, the only option that appears in the Start menu is the uninstall option, which we ran accidentally. Instead, to run Background Replacement, you have to run Camera settings and click the Background tab.
There’s a pre-set selection of background photography, including obvious lifestyle shots of living rooms, and pictures of cities. You can upload your own background photo, too. The quality of the background replacement depends on what’s behind you. Sit in front of a plain wall, and it does a good job; sit in a room with lots going on behind you, and you’ll lose part of your head and look a bit strange.
One of the best uses of the Brio is for Windows Hello. Thanks to the Brio’s IR camera, it can be used for face detection to automatically log you into Windows, rather than having to type a password. We’ve tried Windows Hello on a few devices in the past, and the Brio’s camera quality makes it one of the best. Sitting in our office, it identified us every single time without a problem. We’re big fans of this technology, as it’s much faster than typing in a password.
As good as the image quality and Windows Hello detection is from the Brio, £199 is a lot to ask for a camera that isn’t widely supported at its maximum resolution. With the slightly cheap feeling peripherals, too, the price is just too high to justify.
⬅ Image quality from the Brio is impressive, with superb colour reproduction