Between the 4K camera and the Windows Hello facial recognition, the Logitech Brio is easily the best webcam I have used, but the $199 price is a tad steep for most users.
Logitech sent me a review unit of its new Brio 4K Pro webcam to play with. I jumped at the opportunity because aside from being a 4K webcam, the Brio is also compatible with Windows Hello facial recognition, and I needed a solution that worked at my desk so I didn’t have to lean over and look into the camera on my Surface Book.
I’ve had some time to work with the Logitech Brio, so here are my thoughts on this flagship webcam.
The Logitech Brio 4K Pro looks pretty much like most of the other webcams out there—especially Logitech webcams. It is an oblong, black device that clips to the top of your laptop or monitor. The unit itself is just over an inch tall, and just over an inch deep, and about 4 inches wide. If you plan to carry it around with you (it also comes with a drawstring pouch), it will add 3 ounces to your computer bag.
The webcam has two omni-directional microphones, and a 4K, auto-focus sensor. It has a 90-degree wide angle field of view, and is capable of recording in 4K, 4K UHD, 1440p, 1080p, or 720p. At the lower resolutions (1080p and 720p), it can also record at 60 frames per second.
It has a detachable privacy shield that clips on—a plastic flap that can fold down over the lens. The monitor clip can be removed so it can be mounted on a traditional tripod. The Logitech Brio 4K Pro is compatible with Windows Hello facial recognition. It also comes with software that lets you replace the background with an image of your choosing.
You can use the detachable privacy shield to block the lens when the camera is not in use to prevent both hackers from potentially invading your privacy and the possibility of inadvertently enabling the camera when you’re not prepared. A white light on the front of the camera next to the Logitech logo lets you know when the Brio is active.
The Logitech Brio software lets you tilt or pan the camera, and zoom in up to 5x. You can select from three Field of View settings: 65 degrees, 78 degrees or 90 degrees, and you can choose between a Standard or Wide Screen point of view. The Image Settings let you fine tune things like brightness, color intensity, and white balance.
There is a third-party add-on, powered by Personify, that allows you to replace the background. It comes with a collection of background choices—a brick wall, a modern office, the Chicago skyline, etc,–or you can add your own background image.
One of the things I love about the Brio is the fact that the USB Type-C cable is detachable. The cable that comes with the Brio is 5 feet long, which is more than sufficient for my needs while I’m sitting at my desk. It’s nice, though, to have the option of swapping it out for a longer one if necessary—or a shorter one if you don’t need an extra 2 or 3 feet of cable dangling around your desk.
One of the main reasons I wanted to check out the Logitech Brio is that it’s compatible with Windows Hello. Getting the facial recognition authentication to work, however, was a challenge. There is an additional software download from Logitech to provide Windows Hello support for the Brio. Even after installing that software, though, I could not get my Surface Book to recognize or use the Brio for Windows Hello facial recognition.
The solution I came up with was to disable the built-in front-facing webcam in Device Settings, which then forced Windows 10 to go to the next available camera. The solution is great for the 90-plus percent of the time I am working at my desk in my office. However, it means that I can’t use Windows Hello authentication on the Surface Book when I leave my office unless I go back into Device Settings and re-enable the front-facing webcam.
The background replacement software—powered by Personify—is in beta, so you have to cut Logitech a little slack. It is sort of cool, in a novelty sort of way, but it definitely needs some work. My background when I am sitting in my office is a bookshelf, and the result when I replace the background is a very poor green screen sort of image—where parts of me are chopped off and fade in and out depending on the angle. I did find, however, that using a less cluttered background enables the Personify software to work much better. If I use some sort of sheet as a backdrop, the background replacement software is much more effective and convincing.
When I installed the Logitech Brio software and the Personify add-on, it added options to my Start Menu just below the Logitech Camera Settings folder that contains only the Logitech Camera Settings app. I have one labeled LogitechBrio and one called LogiVirtualCam. I found out the hard way that those are the links for uninstalling those apps. Logitech should not add those to the Start Menu—or at least clearly label them as uninstall tools, and the Logitech Camera Settings tool should be a top line Start Menu item. It doesn’t make any sense to put it in a folder of the same name all by itself.
Those issues aside, my experience with the Logitech Brio has been amazing. As a webcam, the device is incredible. The clarity of the image and sound is awesome—even when fully zoomed in. Actually, it’s a little too good when fully zoomed in. Nobody needs to see that much detail in my face.
In terms of image and sound quality, the Logitech Brio is easily the best webcam I have used to date. The picture and sound are crystal clear. It is simple to use, and the software gives you plenty of control over the zoom, tilt, pan, point of view, and field of view.
On the software side, there are some issues to be worked out still. I don’t like that I can’t seem to use the Logitech Brio for Windows Hello at my desk, and still use the built-in webcam for Windows Hello authentication on the Surface Book when I’m out and about without going into Device Settings and reconfiguring things. The Personify background replacement engine leaves a little to be desired, and it’s confusing that what looks like it should be the menu option for the Logitech Brio and/or LogiVirtualCam software are actually links to uninstall the software.
At $199, the webcam is expensive compared with other options out there. You can get a cheap webcam for under $20, and there are a variety of excellent choices from Logitech in the $50 to $100 range. The Logitech Brio isn’t for everyone, but if you want to be on the cutting edge of 4K video, or if you want a webcam that can log you into your PC using Windows Hello facial recognition, this is the webcam for you.