Webcams have become an essential tool over the past year for anyone previously working in an office environment, and a ton of high quality options have flooded the market vying for your attention. AverMedia have recently dropped the PW315, and they reached out to see if we wanted to give one a test run, and I’ve got to say I’m glad they did!
Aimed firmly at streamers, the PW315 boasts a 90 degree FOV, 1080p resolution and, crucially, a 60fps option. The design is nice, with a built in stand/monitor hook, as well as a threaded insert for attaching to a tripod or other mount. There’s a blue activity LED, alongside a hardware cover for the lens, which manually slides over and blocks it off from any potential miscreants who want a peep at you when you’re working, while the round sides give it a really nice tube design overall, hiding its microphones at either side.
I’ve been using the webcam for a few weeks now, and I’ve been impressed with the general quality that it provides. It not only gives a crisp, smooth video feed, but the built in microphones provide a quality that is more than suitable for most people’s video calls. It’s never going to compete with a standalone mic, but if you’re in the target audience for this device, you’ll likely have your own audio setup with which to combine it.
That’s pretty much it on the hardware side, if I’m honest with you. It’s a webcam, it functions as described, and it looks sleek enough to slot into any setup (with my only real complaint being the dominant AverMedia logo on the monitor hook). I can’t fault the quality of the image, and it shows up without any tweaking in OBS or whatever you want to use it in, it’s truly plug and play.
Where it starts to really shine though is within the CamEngine software. As well as a digital zoom function, you also have standard controls such as brightness, contrast, hue and saturation. Additionally there are some advanced features if you want to tweak it even further, which allows for a really impressive range of image customisation. There are also some filters, which allow you to hide any annoying blemishes which may have cropped up overnight, or just before your big stream, if you’re concerned about that sort of thing. However, AverMedia have also included some impressive features in there which will be of use for different people.
First off is the Effects tab, which allows for some Snapchat-style overlays on your face. These work surprisingly well, and although they’re not something I’d consider using on a daily basis, they can be quite fun for a little bit. I’ve not seen a way to import additional ones, however, which might be something that can be implemented in the future.
The real star of the show here, however, is the ePTZ (or AI Framing) function. Essentially what this does is scan the image for faces, and will attempt to frame the image in the best way possible for any faces that it detects. This means that if you move around your room, the software will do its best to follow you as you bob and weave around the picture, and I’ve got to say it works fantastically. If you set the camera up in such a way that you have multiple people talking, it will even use the mics and facial recognition to adjust the image to whichever person is talking at that particular moment. It’s a feature similar to Apple’s recently debuted “Centre Stage”, and it’s genuinely impressed me. You do take a slight hit to image quality when using this, as it is using the camera’s digital zoom to achieve it, but it’s more than worth it for the ease of use. Gone are the days (at least for me) of finding the perfect angle only for it to be thrown off when you lean back the wrong way in a chair and end up filming a wall for an hour! CamEngine also allows you to save multiple profiles for different occasions, so if you’re wanting to disguise yourself as a dog in your streams but keep it professional for that big meeting, you can do so in a single click!