The AverMedia PW315 Professional Connections webcam is representative of the manufacturer steadily muscling in on the premium, best webcam space, and at $120 this new cam is certainly carrying a higher price tag over the usual cheap webcams available. 1080p footage at 60fps will usually carry a heavier price tag, though, and while the PW315 does cut itself out of the budget market, there's plenty on offer here to entice the mid-range streamer or the professional looking to smarten up their conference calls.
Average price: $119.99 / £108.99
Resolution: 1080p, 60FPS
Microphone: Dual stereo
Field of view: 95°
Connectivity: USB 3.0
Mounting: L-shape / tripod fixture
The AverMedia PW315's lens offers 1080p picture at 60fps. That’s impressive considering other, more major brands, generally tend to limit their $90 - $120 cameras to 720p resolution at this frame rate. While we’re starting to see companies like Logitech dropping the prices on these features, AverMedia is certainly out ahead with this spec sheet.
You’ll also find a 95-degree field of view, offering up plenty of space for your streaming backdrop, or for getting more people in front of the camera. The plug and play system works across both Mac and PC, and is picked up quickly across a number of streaming and conferencing apps.
Some of the more luxurious features only really come into play once you download the Cam Engine software. This opens you up to AI motion tracking, through which your webcam will ensure you are always in frame and in focus while you move freely, as well as a range of extra settings and picture adjustments that can be carried across a range of streaming and networking programs as well.
While looking like a mini soundbar isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the dual speakers on either side of this wide-angle lens do add some serious heft to the overall design. That’s not going to be a problem for general mounting, but considering there’s very little tilt functionality between the grip and the camera itself, positioning your frame with this extra weight in mind may prove a little tricky if you’re working with a thinner surface.
That said, should your webcam fall we reckon it will almost definitely survive the impact. With that extra weight comes a solid design that feels like it could take some serious knocks before giving out. The clip hinge is well built, with a soft rubber pad for extra grip, and a full 360-degree pan that feels easy to manoeuvre but still solid once in place.
In well-lit conditions, the AverMedia PW315 offers excellent clarity with no grain detectable when viewing on a smaller smartphone, tablet, and laptop screens. This does drop a little as the receiving display’s size gets larger, but still offers far better viewing quality than cheaper webcams. Straight out the box we didn’t notice any green or blue tints in this picture and noticed far more attention to warmer colors than we’d previously experienced as well. Just pop it on top of one of the best gaming monitors - or even best gaming laptops - and you're good to go.
When those lighting conditions change, a little more grain is introduced, especially once we tested a low light environment. That's a little disappointing considering we're not exactly in the budget price range any more, where this reduction in detailing might be expected. However, at around $120 this doesn't quite hit premium pricing either, so perfect handling of low lighting conditions would be a bit of a stretch. As a result, it may be best to team it with a contender for the best ring light to ensure you're well covered for light.
The picture did manage to balance a range of RGB key lights in this environment well. Plus, we noticed a speedy reaction to any sudden changes in lighting conditions and there were very few washed-out white spots when subjected to particularly strong natural light as well.
The AI features packed in here are very much still in beta, which means they’re not as slick as the rest of the experience may suggest. In fact, we struggled to run the Cam Engine software at all on a 2016 MacBook Pro that met all the download requirements. Meanwhile, our PC testing was a little more successful, and overall the AI components worked as expected - if a little slower than we would have hoped. It’s also worth noting that you’ll need a Windows PC running Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 or one of the best graphic cards going that's above that mark to make the most of these features.
Overall - should you buy it?
The AverMedia Professional Connections webcam operates in the blurred line between premium and mid-range. While its 1080p 60fps footage is excellent across a wide range of lighting environments, and certainly out-performs some others at this price point, the features that really push this camera into the luxury category (AI framing and low light handling) can't quite keep up with competitors.
If you're looking for some of the more professional features available in higher-level devices you may need to look elsewhere - maybe toward Razer streaming gear and that company's recent Razer Kiyo Pro, for example. However, if you're just starting out in the streaming space and want something to go with your best gaming PC, or you're looking for an affordable but still high-performing webcam for professional conference calls or Zoom catchups, you're getting fantastic performance for your cash.