Illustration for article titled Your Zoom Calls Suck, but This Gear Can Make Them Better

Graphic: Eric Ravenscraft

The “video chat look” was a thing long before it became the primary way we see humans that aren’t delivering food to our door. It was fine when it was just for the occasional remote meeting, but if you want to have a better experience for your now-weekly Jackbox game nights, there are a few accessories you can get to jazz up your video conferences.

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A Better Webcam

Illustration for article titled Your Zoom Calls Suck, but This Gear Can Make Them Better

Graphic: Eric Ravenscraft

Alright so this is a bit of a trap because it turns out most webcams are sold out everywhere. If you can get your hands on a Logitech C920—or the Brio if you’re feeling that 4K fanciness—at a reasonable price, then those are great options. Realistically, that might not be possible, though. Alternatively, you can use free apps to turn your phone into a webcam for your computer. Your phone probably has a better camera in it anyway, but for video conference calls, what camera you’re using is just the start.

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A Ring Light

Illustration for article titled Your Zoom Calls Suck, but This Gear Can Make Them Better

Graphic: Eric Ravenscraft

Ring lights are circular lamps that are designed to point directly at your face and light you from all angles without worrying about a complicated multi-light setup. This is especially useful if you’re in a dark room or chatting at night. A few decent webcams come with a built-in ring light, but you’re better off getting a standalone one. This inexpensive model even clips onto your smartphone so if you’re using your phone as a camera, or if you just want to take better selfies, it works for both.

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An Adjustable Camera Arm

Illustration for article titled Your Zoom Calls Suck, but This Gear Can Make Them Better

Graphic: Eric Ravenscraft

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Webcams are basically always in a bad position. Either they’re looming down from a foot and a half above your eyeline, or they’re looking up at you like a cat begging for treats. Neither is very flatting for your face. An adjustable arm like this suspension scissor arm, or this flexible swivel clamp let you position the camera right where it needs to be to look right.

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Accent Lighting

Illustration for article titled Your Zoom Calls Suck, but This Gear Can Make Them Better

Graphic: Eric Ravenscraft

A customizable Zoom background is fine, but if you want to do more with the setup in your home, may I recommend some accent lighting? Philips Hue light bars can be used to blast any RGB color over your back wall, or you can use cheaper Eufy bulbs (which, conveniently, don’t require a hub) in any lamp you have laying around. Throwing some color around the room can really make you stand out from the background. Not that you don’t already, you stunning looker, you.

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A Decent Microphone

Illustration for article titled Your Zoom Calls Suck, but This Gear Can Make Them Better

Graphic: Eric Ravenscraft

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It’s not all about how you look! If you’re using the built-in microphone in your laptop or webcam, your voice probably sounds like crap. You don’t have to go full Yeti to get decent audio quality, though. Blue’s Snowball mic or even the AmazonBasics Mini Condenser will get you better sound quality than shouting at webcam with whatever receiver they managed to shove into it.

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