The Insta360 Link is best known for its action cameras, most of which are rugged, waterproof, and take 360-degree photos. Well, work. While some Insta360 action cameras can be used as webcams, the company has not yet made a webcam. Insta360 Link is an AI-controlled 4K/30fps webcam that sits on a 3-axis axis and offers a variety of shooting modes. The Link is equipped with a 1/2″ sensor and has one of the most impressive auto exposure and white balance features we’ve seen on a webcam.
It features two built-in microphones with noise reduction and offers AI tracking, 4x digital zoom, and gesture control. Insta360, the company known for its wearable action and virtual reality cameras, has officially entered the world of webcams to offer a solution. The Insta360 Link is much more than just a 4K webcam. The problem is that it costs $300, which puts it in the “too expensive” category. Most of the more expensive products on our list of the best webcams cost around $200.
But this is because the link is not intended for business people. It’s not a webcam so much as a 360-degree action cam in the form of a webcam. The Insta360 Link is definitely one of the most interesting webcams on the market today. Its top-notch image quality makes it a great all-in-one streaming solution, but its tracking and AI features really set it apart from the competition. Given its high price tag on the list, it’s definitely not for everyone, but there aren’t many others that can hold a candle to it.
What makes the design of the Insta360 Link special, along with its sleek black profile and uniquely shaped lens head, is the fact that the lens head rotates. The reason for this design decision becomes apparent once you turn it on and start a video call, as you see it come to life and adapt to you.
Intentional or not, her movements are equally smooth and charming, evoking in her a strange but not unwelcome feeling of affection, as if she was an adorable robot who wakes up to be your cam all day. It also evokes a sense of interest, as we were able to handle it more gently than a regular webcam.
The included accessories are robust and well thought out, a successful combination of portability and durability. We especially appreciate the tripod, because it’s so innovative to have a tripod that fits in your pocket. A tripod for shooting from above is also very useful. A USB cable is also useful, as it is a Type-C cable and comes with an easy-to-use Type-A adapter.
Insta360 Link is a webcam controlled by artificial intelligence. This means that lens-guided gestures replace all buttons used on traditional webcams. Depending on the gestures you make, it activates different modes, including zoom, track and a special whiteboard mode that lets you better focus the webcam on a person during a video call. It also automatically adjusts the head of the lens to keep you in the frame at all times, which is incredibly impressive.
These modes are incredibly powerful and useful for all kinds of work tasks that both remote and in-office workers may need. For the whiteboard mode, there are also special stickers that can be placed in each corner to help the webcam focus on a clearer image. Firmware updates provide more control over the device.
The image quality of the Insta360 Link is surprisingly good. It’s our top recommendation for most people and an excellent webcam, but the Link’s 1/2-inch sensor makes me feel like we’ve repurposed a Panasonic GH5 DSLR as a webcam. Instead of installing proprietary software and drivers and powering the camera through the Elgato HD60 S+, all we had to do was connect a single USB-C cable.
Link provides resolutions up to 4K at 30 frames per second (fps) or 1080p or 720p at up to 60 frames per second. We have good lighting in my office, but I prefer working in low light, which results in a very noisy webcam image. Not so with the link. Even without HDR mode enabled, it delivers sharp and clear photos or videos with minimal lighting.
In terms of sound quality, the Link’s built-in microphones offer decent audio recording capability. Thanks to noise reduction, we were also able to record in outdoor areas with a lot of ambient noise or next to a noisy desktop gaming system without fans being heard in the video.
The recording quality can’t be compared to that of a high-end microphone, but we didn’t expect that. For what it is, we were surprised by the excellent quality. Even in a dark room, the Insta360 Link was able to capture a bright, sharp picture of us using little more than ambient light from my screen. We did notice some graininess, but the color of my green shirt was subtle and the white lettering on our shirt was well defined.
Software and support
Insta360 Link is ready to plug and play when you’re in a hurry. It supports Windows 8 or later and macOS 10.10 and later. Simply connect a USB-C cable to your camera and a USB-A cable to your computer, and you’ll be ready to go in seconds. For the best experience, be sure to install the Insta360 Link Controller app, which allows you to apply firmware updates to your camera and gives you full control over the camera’s extensive features. The image quality alone is impressive, but that’s where the link really stands out.
In the app, you can set the camera to track you with the AI tracking mode that seamlessly tracks you whether you are sitting or standing and moving around the room. You can choose to zoom the camera on your head, half of your body, or your entire body. Teachers or presenters can use the gesture controls to switch from tracing mode to ‘whiteboard’ mode, which then zooms in on the whiteboard using the four track marks mentioned earlier. When you’re done with the whiteboard, just raise your palm and the camera will go back to tracking you.
Without AI controls, the Insta360 Link is an excellent 4K webcam that delivers 30 frames per second. And if you prefer frame rate over resolution, you can lower the resolution down to 1080p for an amazingly smooth 60fps. There’s also a 720p mode that, while nice, is completely unnecessary.
The webcam’s AI controls are really impressive, with the lens head in particular moving with precision we didn’t think possible. Switching between modes using hand gestures is genius and works very well for the most part. Of course, there are problems with growing up with any AI technology, but once you get used to it, it becomes easy to use.
It instantly connects to any laptop or PC it’s attached to, and after ten seconds of inactivity, the lens head activates privacy mode and lowers to cover the camera automatically. This is a simple but useful feature that prevents sharing of automatic snapshots in a video call meeting. Plus, the webcam looks like it’s looking down modestly, which is very attractive.
Insta360 markets the link as the perfect webcam for a variety of situations from presentations at work to filming a YouTube dance tutorial. Don’t get me wrong: Link is an excellent webcam, but for a very specific target audience. Most of Link’s features are overkill for the average webcam user, especially in a work environment.
Features like whiteboard, overhead, and desk display modes aren’t really necessary in most work environments and work best in some sort of Twitch tutorial or YouTube Maker tutorial. As for picture quality, 4K images are so crisp, detailed, and high-resolution that I’m almost offended. We just had one look at this webcam and spent 2 hours making myself. But that fine-tuned focus and ultra-high-resolution detail will be lost (or at least greatly diminished) on any web conferencing platform.