Insta360 Link Review: The Rolls-Royce of USB Webcams

When I test a webcam, I often play with the lighting in the room, both ambient and artificial. I do my best to ditch the autofocus and white balance to see how the webcam adjusts and responds. I scoot away in my chair and swing like a bowling pin. I got more Oh And Yes of my colleagues marveled at how smoothly the link refocused on my face. I’ve tested a lot of webcams that have autofocus, but not the Link. It’s able to focus with my face as close as 4 inches (10 cm) from the lens, which is closer than I need to reach the webcam.

The Link can zoom up to four times, but it’s a digital zoom. This means that zooming in will create a more pixelated image the closer you get to the subject. However, this is a 4K webcam, so by supporting such a high resolution, you can zoom in a bit and still keep a sharp image. Ultimately, Link supports 4K resolution at 24, 25, and 30 frames per second. For lower bandwidth or a faster frame rate, which makes the video look smoother, you can downsize to 1080p at 50 or 60 frames per second, among other options.

24fps may seem redundant when 25 is also an option, but it’s the gold standard for film production, so capturing at this frame rate is desirable for anyone recording themselves on camera for later uploading to YouTube or for a cinematic project. There’s support for High Dynamic Range (HDR), too, which helps keep the bright lights in your frame in check without underexposing or overexposing the image. It’s optional, but it only works in 1080p or 720p at 24, 25, or 30 frames per second.

Most webcams come with pretty awful mics, but the dual noise-canceling mics on the Insta360 Link make me sound pretty decent (according to my colleagues). However, I still prefer a standalone USB microphone like the Blue Snowball Ice.

There’s no physical privacy shutter, but the Link prevents intruders and strangers from peeking through your webcam uninvited by automatically rotating its pivoting head down and away from you. This occurs after 10 seconds of no webcam being used by the conferencing application. When you start a video meeting, Link’s benefits are backed up and it wakes up to start broadcasting again (it supports the likes of Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and more).

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Photo: Insta360

the problem? Three hundred dollars is a lot of money for a webcam. It has competition too. There’s the Obsbot Tiny 4K, another PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) webcam that has many of the same tricks (albeit less polished) for a little less. An often great Logitech Brio 4K Webcam is under $150 and delivers nearly as good picture quality without all the motion.

The question is whether you need automatic tracking and gesture control. If the answer is no, even the link’s slightly superior video quality isn’t enough to justify spending nearly twice as much on a webcam as the Brio, which is already an expensive webcam. You can get a great, simple webcam for just $50.

If you frequently record videos, give virtual presentations regularly — or just like to film your dance practices — Link is a great option. It nailed the basics (great video quality) with a bunch of polished extras, like automatic tracking, gestures, and what I refer to as privacy droop. It’s not a bargain, but it’s the best.


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