Insta360 has gained recognition for its stunning 360-degree cameras, it is undoubtedly not the first company that springs to mind when searching for a webcam. But the company hopes to change that with the introduction of the Insta360 one x2. The Link is a little unusual: a 4K webcam with a built-in 3-axis Gimbal that claims to sit atop your monitor and track your motions. Then, does Insta360’s risk pay off here, or might a less ambitious webcam suit you better? We have been testing to determine this.
Insta360 One X2 Review
The 3-axis gimbal and trustworthy tracking capabilities of the Insta360 one x2 make it a webcam unlike any other we’ve seen before, providing an unparalleled amount of adaptability. It’s total overkill for a lot of people. However, if you’re one of the few people who can make use of its special characteristics, we’re sure you’ll adore it. The software might be better, but given that this is Insta360’s first foray into the room, that is acceptable.
We’re certain that as the system develops, there will be upgrades and enhancements given the company’s prior performance. The only thing we really have a problem with is the price. This is certainly justifiable for some, such as content producers and live broadcasters, but it does prevent it from being a viable alternative for the larger market.
- Design Dimensions: 69 x 41 x 45mm
- Size: 106g
- USB Type-C connectivity is available.
- 1/4-inch tripod thread or built-in clip for mounting
As we noted before, the DJI Pocket 2, which features a 3-axis gimbal that is about the same size, is the first parallel that comes to mind. However, the Insta360 one x2 replaces the space where the battery and screen would normally reside with a rubberized screen clip and a 1/4-inch tripod thread. Another significant distinction is that the DJI Pocket cameras cannot be used as webcams.
Even though it’s a very small device compared to other high-end webcams, it nevertheless feels robust and heavy. We never worried that the built-in clip would move when we used it with a PC monitor because it seemed solidly fixed. We were hesitant to use the built-in clip on the Surface Laptop 4’s very thin screen.
But to our astonishment, it held just as strongly and operated without any problems. Of course, you can always use a tripod (or any number of other camera mounts) because of the standardised metal threading on the base if your laptop hinge can’t handle the weight. The camera connects via USB-C, and a USB-C to USB-C connection and a Type-A to Type-C converter are included in the box.
For MacBook owners who would otherwise need a dongle, this is really practical. Additionally, the base of the Insta360 one x2 contains a perimeter-running LED status light. This glows green while the camera is on and blue when it is in standby mode. When a gesture control is detected, a blue light will blink to let you know. This is important if you are standing away from your monitor, which is possible with a gadget like this.
Image and Camera Quality
- a maximum of 4K at 30 frames per second.
- AF, 1/2-inch sensor, 26mm equivalent lens, and F1.8 aperture.
- Both sides have noise-cancelling microphones.
The Insta360 Link’s image quality is on par with the best webcams we’ve tried, but given the cost, one should not be surprised. Of course, the Link has a lot more capabilities than its rivals, and we’ll talk more about them later. We discovered that the created movie was clear and realistic, with lovely natural colours. The narrow depth of field is the one feature you give up over a more expensive mirrorless camera because the latter’s comparatively tiny sensor is unable to produce it.
If you want, you can simulate the appearance rather convincingly with software like Nvidia Broadcast, but the Insta360 one x2 lacks this feature. The picture does quite well in low-light situations as well. Due to the very tiny sensor, everything seems slightly grainier, but it still performs better than the majority of webcams we’ve used and is unquestionably an improvement over most action cameras.
Since it’s a webcam, you’ll normally be able to adjust the illumination as well, so you might want to do so for the best results. Dual microphones are also included in the Insta360 one x2, and we were pleasantly impressed by how good they sound. The majority of individuals choosing such a sophisticated webcam will probably already have a more robust audio system, but in a pinch, the built-in mics can do the trick and sound better than many mid-range headset mics.
The software does include some noise suppression features. It does an excellent job of at least cancelling out the whirring of a gaming PC, even if the testing area wasn’t the noisiest. To get a greater dynamic range out of the camera, there is also an HDR mode that you can switch on. It excels at bringing out more detail in the highlights and shadows. For some reason, the HDR option only functions at resolutions below 4K and does not support 60 frames per second. So long as you can live with 1080p, it is still a pleasure to have and highly useful.
Features and Software
- Desktop application for controlling the Insta360 Link’s three axes
- Portrait, Overhead, and Whiteboard modes
- Controls using gestures and AI tracking
- On to the gimbal, the main highlight of the Link.
We were first a little perplexed because, when gimbals were originally developed, their main purpose was to stabilise cameras and reduce vibrations. A webcam is often placed on your desk, so there are no vibrations to be concerned about, but it does guarantee that your webcam is always straight. What use does the gimbal serve, therefore, if not stabilization?
In essence, it functions as a cameraman robot. The Link can move to show pre-set places, such as a whiteboard or a top-down view of a desk, and can switch back to showing your face with the push of a button. It will follow you around the room if you walk around it. While most people have never required their webcam for this purpose, it may be a game-changer for those who can use it. Think about leading an online learning session where you need to demonstrate a useful product utilising a whiteboard and, of course, your face.
Instead of having to utilise numerous cameras and a switcher or spending a lot of time calibrating a single webcam, the Insta360 one x2 makes all of that very simple. The same might be said about content producers who open packages, Twitch streamers who don’t just want to sit still, instructors using Zoom, and so on. It provides a plethora of opportunities for a certain group of users.
With gesture controls, the follow mode, whiteboard mode, and zoom may be turned on. In our experience, turning on and off the “follow mode” worked pretty much without a hitch. Toggle the mode on and off. All you have to do is raise your hand. Whiteboard mode activation was also rather successful, but for some reason, the camera had trouble detecting the zoom gesture.
Sometimes it would work, but more often than not we would sit there for long periods of time, creating L shapes with our hands with no luck. As the software develops, this is probably something that will get better. We would always be in the frame because of the reliable tracking, which allowed us to move quickly and fluidly to stay up. When we emerged from hiding behind an object after leaving the frame, it would immediately resume.
It has some trouble in dim light, but this might be readily fixed by adding a key light. The gimbal can’t rotate a complete 360 degrees, but it comes close. It has a fairly broad range of motion. Additionally, it will tilt upward at a nearly 90-degree angle, providing excellent coverage everywhere you go. The display is automatically reversed when you switch to DeskView mode, providing a top-down, first-person view of your workspace.
It functions with the camera mounted to your screen by tilting the camera down at a 45-degree angle, although you might not get the best view unless you have a very deep desk. Similar to portrait mode, overhead mode tilts all the way down at a 90-degree angle and requires the use of a tripod or support to function; otherwise, the camera’s base would be visible.
Finally, by turning on “Streamer mode” in the Insta360 Controller software, the camera may now shoot in portrait orientation. The way this functionality is currently implemented is a little confusing. The camera reboots after selecting the mode, yet the preview continues to display a landscape image, as if nothing had changed.
We have no doubt that you’ll like Insta360 webcam if you can utilize its special capabilities. It’s not the best option for everyone, and some people will be put off by the hefty price, but the webcam’s superior quality and wide range of features make it easy to suggest.