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8 tech upgrades to improve your video conference setup and stop looking like a zombie

Whether your budget is big or small, we've got ideas for lights, cameras, and tripods to improve your on-camera image.

Life and work via video is not going away any time soon. Some offices and workplaces are opening back up but other people are not going to be working in person with colleagues for some time. If you're tired of the blue look that you have during Zoom calls, it may be time to upgrade your video conferencing gear.  

A few simple changes can improve your on-camera look. The easiest thing to do is to lift your camera up a few inches to get it at eye level. If you're in a dark space, consider adding a lamp or a portable light source. If you've got a bigger budget, add a green screen or a new webcam or even a new laptop. We've got ideas in every category to help you polish up your image. Improving your online video conferencing set up will make connecting with coworkers and clients via video a little easier.

Lenovo 500 FHD Webcam

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Image: Lenovo

This webcam is great for teleconferences and reliably transfers 1080P video data with HD quality through a USB interface in full HD mode. It is Windows Hello 4.x compatible and comes with a privacy shutter. The camera has a wide view 75 degree lens plus a 360-degree pan and tilt controls. It also comes with an extra long 1.8m replaceable cable. As of June 3, Lenovo reports that this webcam will ship in five weeks.

$70 at Lenovo

Lamicall Laptop Riser

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Image: Amazon

The stand fits tablets and laptops up to 17'', such as 12-inch MacBooks, 13-inch Macbook Airs, 13-inch and 15-inch Macbook Pros, Microsoft Surface, Google Pixelbook, Dell XPS, HP, ASUS, and Lenovo. The stand lifts your laptop screen to eye level to reduce back and neck strain and get your camera at a more flattering angle during video conference calls. 

$39 at Amazon

Blue Yeti Nano Premium USB Mic

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Image: Amazon

This mic is built for podcasting, Skype calls, or recording videos. It is plug and play for both Macs and PCs and has a small footprint that will easily fit on your desk. You can switch between cardioid and omnidirectional pickup patterns as well as mute your mic and control headphone output and volume.

$99 at Amazon

Joby Beamo Mini LED Light

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Image: Amazon

    This compact and portable LED light mimics daylight with 1500 lumens up to 8m with five levels of brightness. The light also has a wireless charger. The unit is waterproof and shockproof and uses Bluetooth to connect to a phone app.

$69 at Amazon

10" selfie ring light with tripod stand and cell phone holder

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Image: Amazon

If your budget is limited, take a look at this ring light that will also hold your phone. The light has three settings—warm, cool white, and daylight—with 11 brightness levels in each color. The tripod can extend from 16" to 50" which is short enough to stand on a tabletop or tall enough to stand on the ground. It comes with a  Bluetooth remote and a three year replacement service for the parts of the light, tripod, and remote.

$75 at Amazon

UBeesize 50" extendable lightweight aluminum tripod stand with remote

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Image: Amazon

    This tripod will hold your cell phone, a GoPro, and other small cameras. An attachment will allow you to put a tablet on the tripod as well. The tripod weighs about a pound and comes with a water-resistant carrying bag. A built-in bubble view will help you level the camera and a 360-degree swivel lets you capture panoramic images and change from portrait to landscape quickly. A Bluetooth remote will work from 33 feet away.

$29 at Amazon

Fotodiox 5'x7' Collapsible Chromakey Green + Blue 2-in-1 Backdrop kit with Stand Support

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Image: Amazon

This portable screen is collapsible and has one blue side and one green side.The fabric is held up by a durable metal frame. The support stand holds the screen in place. The screen folds down to a 30" by 30" disc that fits into an included carrying case.

$109 at Amazon

Asus ExpertBook B9450

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Image: Amazon

    Several things make the 14-inch ExpertBook B9450 stand out, namely the 16-plus hour battery life as tested. It opens up to 180 degrees (in other words, it can lie flat). The range of screen angles and runs cool. It's exceptionally light at 2.2 pounds due to Asus' use of magnesium-lithium alloy, which the company claims is lighter and stronger than the magnesium-aluminum alloy used by most laptops. Another notable feature is the NumberPad 2.0, the virtual numeric keypad for the touchpad. 

$1,699 at Amazon