What is a Webcam?

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Updated August 24, 2022

If you’re new to the world of online videos and want one of the best webcams, it all starts with knowing what is a webcam in the first place. Today, we’ll go over the answer to that question and talk about the two major types of webcams you’ll run into.


  • A webcam is a video-based imaging device that inputs data into your computer. This allows you to participate in video chat programs, online streaming, and other activities.
  • There are multiple types of webcams on the market, but two major types stand out. There are standalone and built-in cameras.
  • A built-in webcam comes pre-installed on your computer and is primarily seen on laptops. Standalone models are bought separately.

What is a Webcam Used For?

A webcam is a video-based input device that allows you to record and display yourself during online chats on video chat programs by sending information to your computer. Various webcam models have different levels of video quality, and there are a few different types out there. Either way, each webcam has a maximum resolution that dictates video quality, and most models have a built-in microphone.

Insider Tip

An HD webcam will provide far better resolution than traditional webcams.

Types of Webcams

There are a ton of different webcams available. This leads to many questions, such as what a simulated webcam is or what webcam frame rates are. The more knowledge you arm yourself with, the better because this allows you to use your webcam device more effectively. There are also a lot of uses for webcams. For example, knowing how to use a webcam as a security camera opens doors to better home security. Below, we’ll talk about the two main “types” of webcams.

Standalone Webcam

This type of webcam comes in all varieties of shapes and sizes. However, whether you get an expensive or cheap webcam, they all tend to work basically the same. You’ll connect the webcam device to your computer using a USB cable or similar connection type. They allow anybody to make video calls on a computer. For more information, try comparing a laptop webcam vs. an external webcam.


A USB webcam provides an easier installation experience, but it won’t provide the same image quality as a digital camera.

Built-In Webcam

Also known as an internal webcam, these models are built into your device. They are most commonly found on laptops. If you run into trouble with yours, you might want to learn what to do if your built-in webcam is not working. This is incredibly important for troubleshooting, especially if you’re wondering why your webcam keeps flickering.

STAT: In 2021, the global video conferencing market was worth 14.6 billion U.S. dollars. (source)


What is a frame rate, and how does it affect webcams?

A frame rate is just how fast images are shown. More frames are shown per second when you have a higher frame rate. This helps determine the video quality of a webcam.

How do I get better quality images from my webcam?

Ensure you have the best light conditions possible. Managing your light sources will help you improve the overall quality of your video stream.

Is a high-end webcam worth the investment?

Most people can get by with a basic webcam. The fancy bells and whistles aren’t necessary for day-to-day usage. However, it might be worth the investment if you’re after the best image quality possible.

Do they make wireless webcams?

Yes, and they tend to be prevalent models. These are far more convenient than a regular webcam because you can skip the messy wires and get straight to the good stuff.
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