The last gadgets we all thought would be at near out-of-stock levels during a pandemic are webcams. It’s hard to imagine, but that’s our current reality. Shopping online may not yield as many offerings, since many of the established name brands are out of stock — leaving only suspect alternatives.
So, what are your options? Simple, a security camera. You may be scratching your head wondering why we’re mentioning this, but there’s actually a home security camera that can transform into a webcam ready for all of your video conferencing sessions. And the best part about it? You only need to fork over $ 25 to pick it up.
Webcam and security camera on the cheap
The Wyze Cam V2 isn’t terribly new, but if you’re in a pinch and desperately need a webcam without being coerced into buying an overpriced alternative, then it’s a winner. The company released a new firmware update recently that transforms this home security camera into a webcam. Meaning, there’s dual purpose for this already superb and feature-rich security camera! If you also happen to own the Wyze Cam Pan, it’ll work as well.
Before you get started, you’ll need to pick up a couple of mandatory accessories to complete the work. You’ll need to purchase a microSD card and an unconventional USB cable, a USB-A to USB-A cable to be exact. Most people don’t have this readily available, so your best bet is to order one online because it’s not readily available at most brick and mortar stores. And lastly, this has been confirmed to work with Mac OS 10.13, Windows 7, and Windows 10.
1. Download the new firmware
Before you start zooming with the Wyze Cam, you’ll first need to install the new firmware. Download the zip file through here, then after you’ve unzipped it, copy the “demo.bin” file to the root directory of your microSD card. It’s recommended to use a 32 GB microSD card.
2. Installing the new firmware
Once the file has been copied over to a microSD card, unplug the camera before popping the card into the slot on the underside of the Wyze Cam V2. Press and hold the Setup button, while connecting the power source back to the camera. You’ll need to hold down the Setup button for another three to six seconds until the LED light turns to a solid blue color, then you can release it.
3. Connecting it to your computer
The firmware takes approximately three to four minutes to complete the installation. You’ll know it’s done when the status light flashes yellow and blue colors at the same time. Once you see this, you can disconnect the camera from the power source, connect one end of the USB-A cable to the back of the Wyze Cam V2, and the other to your computer’s available USB port.
Wyze mentions that it’s also possible to use a USB-C to USB-A cable, but it didn’t work in our testing. Your computer will recognize the Wyze Cam V2 as an “HD USB Camera,” so you’ll be able to select it as an option in your conferencing apps.
Going back to a security cam is a pain
Sure, it’s convenient that the Wyze Cam V2 can transform into a webcam, but if you intend to go back to using it as a security camera, you’ll have to go through the process of reverting to the original firmware. It’s a pain, since the process is essentially the same.
Despite this, it’s still a cheaper solution than some of the questionable webcams that are available online at the moment — even if you include the cost of the microSD card and USB-A to USB-A cable. You’re still spending under $ 50, which is a fraction of the $ 100 cost that most independent sellers are asking for on Amazon.
Considering this is most suitable for desktop setups, as most people leverage the built-in webcams on laptops, making it a permanent resident on your work-from-home office is a reasonable idea. The video quality isn’t bad either, just as long as there’s ample lighting around, but the audio quality is disappointing. That’s probably why even Wyze recommends using an alternative audio source for the microphone.