Affordable; Dynamic background removal; Strong audio and video quality
Finicky to set up; Hard to stream in low light
The Logitech C922 Pro Stream Webcam may take a few tries to set up, but it's the cheapest alternative to a green screen for game streaming at an affordable price.
Streaming video games has become really big business. Some streamers have elaborate setups with green screens so that they can show you more of the game rather than their messy apartments, but that takes a lot of room and money. Logitech's $99.99 C922 Pro Stream Webcam takes out a lot of the cost and the space by using software to remove or replace the background, making you look like a pro for a fraction of the dough. It's not as reliable as using a real green screen, but the C922 is much easier to use, and it also happens to be a great everyday webcam.
The C922 is the spitting image of Logitech's C920, our favorite webcam. It shares the C920's chunky, all-black casing, with microphones that flank both sides of the 1080p lens, and it even has the same lengthy 6-foot cord sticking out the back.A rear-mounted arm secures the camera onto your laptop lid or external monitor. Just like the C920, it worked great on a variety of laptops and displays that I tested.The part that stands out is that the C922 comes with a tripod. It features a 360-degree swivel mount and its legs extend from 4.3 inches to 7.3 inches. We haven't seen a webcam that comes with a tripod before, and that makes the C922 a great starter kit for those who want one. (If you're one of those who don't need a tripod, see below for a version without it.)
Picture and Sound Quality
Like its predecessor, the C922 takes great photos, and videos with clear audio. Whether you're playing Overwatch on Twitch or holding a conference over Skype, you're going to look and sound good doing it.
I snapped some photos in the well-lit Laptop Mag labs and was pleased by the precise details and color accuracy. I saw all of the black stripes on my royal blue shirt, which looked great on-screen. I could make out individual hairs on my head and in my beard as well as the dings on the edges of the cardboard boxes that were piled up behind me. The only issue was that the light coming in through the windows was blown out.
Logitech claims that the C922 has improved low-light correction over the C920, though I preferred the older model's photos. When I compared the two, the C922's photos had a bluish tint, while the C920 had a more natural look.
The microphones on the C922 record stellar sound. When I replayed test video that I shot, my voice was crystal-clear, and I could hear the sharp sound of my knuckles crackling. I even heard a colleague who was talking and typing several feet away.
Software and Streaming
The C922 isn't designed to work with the C920's webcam utility. Instead, it comes with apps that are specifically designed for streaming. Logitech partnered with Personify to build proprietary software called ChromaCam. This recognizes the streamer and creates a green-screen effect behind the person, which removes the background. Alternatively, you can pick a number of preset backgrounds or upload your own image to serve as your backdrop. While it's meant for game streaming -- where it places your head and torso on top of the game -- you can use it for any video application, including video chat software like Skype.
Logitech also throws in a three-month license to XSplit Gamecaster and Broadcaster (six months if you get a configuration without a tripod -- see below). You can use XSplit for free, but the subscription lets you remove backgrounds, edit recordings and get notifications about new followers. If you don't use XSplit, the C922 is also designed to work with Open Broadcaster Software (OBS).
If you're starting your streaming setup from scratch, all this software might be somewhat overwhelming. But for those who already use XSplit Gamecaster or OBS to stream, adding ChromaCam is a simple process. After making a few settings changes in XSplit or OBS, you're ready to go. The C922 can stream an image of the user at 30 frames per second at 1080p or 60 fps at 720p.I played Rise of the Tomb Raider on the Asus ROG Strix GL50VS-DB71 with a 2.6-GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ CPU, 16GB of RAM and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 GPU with 8GB VRAM, and decided it would be a perfect time for a little streaming. I hooked up my Twitch and XSplit accounts and streamed Lara Croft not-so-stealthily running through a Soviet base, dodging guards and climbing zip lines on High settings. Performance was sporadic with the camera running, ranging from 30 to 65 fps, though this will vary based on your rig, internet connection and the game's individual settings. Later, I played Hitman on default settings while streaming over OBS, and stayed at a more consistent 50 fps while recording as I pursued an assassination target on a yacht.
In bright light, the background removal works quite well, but the setup can be finicky. In our lab, I found that the camera occasionally cut off the top of my head, or the frame included a pile of boxes along with my torso. Resetting ChromaCam tended to do the trick, and once I configured it to my liking, it stayed there. It takes a bit of finagling, but if you do it all before you broadcast, it should look fine throughout. It's not as reliable as a real green screen, but it should do the trick.
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You can stream with a friend in the shot, too, thanks to the wide-angle lens. When testing, we managed to fit two people on the screen together at the same time while we played a game.
In low-light situations, the camera couldn't find me at all, and I had to delay my streaming until I got more light into the room. Even then, it only caught my head and part of my chest.
Because the C922 opted for a software solution instead of Intel's processor-powered 3D RealSense camera, it is compatible with far more computers. Unlike the RealSense camera, Logitech doesn't require a 6th-generation Intel Core CPU or Windows 10; gamers with older rigs or running Windows 7 or 8 can use the C922.
Logitech is selling two versions of the C922 webcam at the same $99 price point, depending on your needs. The version I reviewed had a tripod and a three-month license to XSplit, and will be available on Logitech's web site and at Best Buy under the C922 Pro Stream Webcam branding.
If you love XSplit and don't need a tripod, the C922x (also $99) is the exact same camera, but comes with a six-month license for XSplit and ditches the tripod. That version will be sold exclusively on Amazon.
For those without the space or wallet for a green screen, the Logitech C922 Pro Stream Webcam is the next best thing. It can be a bit tedious to set up, and it requires a fair bit of software, but when it works, it looks pretty damn good. It also doesn't hurt that it happens to be a pretty strong webcam for ordinary video chatting.If you just need a great webcam or don't care about background removal, the Logitech C920 is a better deal. You can find it on Amazon for as low as $68, and despite the lack of bells and whistles, it's our favorite webcam on the market.For gamers, the C922 is the best of both worlds, thanks to the free software and tripod. What's important is that you get great picture and sound, whether you're using it for Twitch or Skype (though you may want to keep the light on). Is it as good as a real green screen? No, but it's a good alternative for the money.
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