Opal, the company founded by former Apple and Beats designers and backed by investors like MKBHD, is out with its newest webcam today. The new $175 Opal Tadpole focuses on combining “ultra-portability” with 4K webcam hardware, designed to be used on the go.
Opal started with the Opal C1 webcam, released in 2021. The Opal C1 promised to bring DSLR-like quality to a 4K webcam and was generally well-reviewed. It wascriticized, however, for its $300 price point (which was eventually reduced to $250).
The new Opal Tadpole packs what the company says is “even better image quality” than the Opal C1. It uses a 4K, 48MP Sony IMX582 sensor with an f1.8 six-element glass
According to the company, the Opal Tadpole is the “world’s smallest webcam ever made,” measuring in at 1.2 inches squared and weighing 45 grams. The design is specifically focused on working with a laptop. It features a built-in clamp-style clip that fits “onto any laptop display without requiring a camera mount.”
The Opal Tadpole features a built-in braided USB-C cable that can also act as a lanyard of sorts when not in use.
In terms of audio quality, Opal says that the Tadpole features an “AI-powered directional microphone.” The idea is that it “only captures audio that the camera can see,” filtering out background noise and other unwanted sounds.
By allowing sound waves to pass through a sonic tunnel inside the device, any sound outside Tadpoleʼs field of view is not recorded, resulting in crisp, distraction-free video calls in any environment for the first time. With AI-integrated technology, Tadpole intelligently picks up the human voice while filtering out other unwanted background noises to give you professional sound quality wherever you go.
One of the most intriguing features of the Opal Tadpole is “Tap to Mute.” The camera’s USB-C plug has a built-in capacitive touch sensor that can instantly mute or unmute your audio while on a video call with a single tap.
The design, however, comes with its drawbacks. Even though the Opal Tadpole packs solid camera hardware, it can pretty much only be used with a laptop (or an iPad, I guess). The clip is not big enough to attach to the top of something like the Apple Studio Display.
I fear that this limitation will significantly reduce the size of Opal’s customer base. There are only so many people willing to spend $175 on a dedicated webcam, let alone on a webcam that can only be used with a laptop.
The other elephant in the room is Continuity Camera, which is Apple’s feature that lets you use your iPhone as a webcam for your Mac. Belkin even sells a dedicated camera mount that lets you attach your iPhone to the top of your MacBook.
The Opal Tadpole is available to order today from the company’s website for $175, available in black or white color options. Unlike the Opal C1, it works with Macs as well as PCs.
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