Is there anywhere I can get a basic webcam in Chicago or online?
March 30, 2020 11:55 PM   Subscribe

Of COURSE people have snatched up all the reasonably-priced webcams. Probably there will be some shipping from China soon, but is there any way I could get one this week? I'm in Chicago, but trying to order one online.

Best Buy showed a Logitech sub-$100 webcam in Naperville, but that's a phantom of the Internet (glitch in their database) -- apparently people keep calling that Best Buy store looking for it, but it doesn't really exist.

I'm looking for a standard, basic, not-a-weird brand webcam. It will probably be used on a Linux workstation, definitely on a Windows 7 system. Have tried Amazon, Staples, Microcenter, Target, Best Buy.

This $99 Logitech C922 is an example of the kind of thing I'm looking for.

Trust me, I do need one. It's not life-or-death, but it's professionally important.

Would be nice to have it tomorrow, for a Wednesday presentation, but I recognize that that's not likely to happen, and it would be unreasonable to try to configure it (on the Linux workstation) by then anyway.

It is likely to be used for job interviews, though, for tech positions that also will depend on presenting well through this medium. The camera in the computer is OK but not ideal, and not ideally placed.

Have already fielded the suggestion to use a phone instead. Not interested in that right now.

Thank you!
posted by amtho to Grab Bag (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
>Have already fielded the suggestion to use a phone instead. Not interested in that right now.

But have you considered using the phone as an external camera for your workstation? There are many guides online to get this working with Android phone and Windows PC, and likely for other OS also.
posted by McNulty at 12:02 AM on March 31, 2020 [5 favorites]

You could try Office Depot which still shows a few available for delivery (including the C922). It's possible their website isn't accurately showing the latest stock, but worth a try.

it would be unreasonable to try to configure it (on the Linux workstation) by then anyway

Not 100% sure what configure means here, but fwiw I use a Logitech webcam (originally bought a couple of years ago) and it was plug-and-play on my Linux (Mint) machine. I didn't have to install any drivers or other software to have it be recognized by the system.
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 2:45 AM on March 31, 2020

Do you have a camcorder or point and shoot camera? Or dashcam? They may have a webcam mode when connected with usb cable. Or a hdmi capture device could bring the output of a camera into your computer.
posted by Sophont at 3:00 AM on March 31, 2020

We looked into connecting the fancy camera; we'd have to buy a weird power cable that's super expensive, and even then it would require extra software.

Thanks, rangefinder - good to know the Logitech cams will probably work. Unfortunately, Office Depot's site lets you see listings, but every single one gives a "We will ship when stock is available" message when you try to add it to the shopping cart. :(
posted by amtho at 3:54 AM on March 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

Building off Sophont’s suggestion, my coworkers have been suggesting the El Gato Cam Link paired with a GoPro or DSLR.
posted by thejoshu at 4:20 AM on March 31, 2020

So, this was last week, and it's now sold out again online but the website says it's available in-store in Hammond, IN.

I was able to buy this webcam from Gamestop and it's more gaming/influencer-focused than I would have gone for but it works fine. No idea whether it works with Linux but it does work fine on my 6-year-old Macbook even though the description says "Windows."
posted by mskyle at 4:20 AM on March 31, 2020

A cheap Chromebook or laptop with built-in webcam is one of the few options available in stores currently, I've been looking as well.

As of last week when I should have bought, Staples had a few webcams locally, and best buy had some streamer bundles of a logitech 922 and a blue microphone, but those all sold out near me as well. You could try stores that you wouldn't expect for many electronic sales for overlooked merchandise.

Logitech is pretty much the only company that even makes webcams anymore.

Your options are basically, wait who knows how long for restock, find something with a built in webcam (phone,tablet,laptop) or cobble something nonstandard together (digital camera/action cam, etc).
posted by TheAdamist at 6:10 AM on March 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

Did you check craigslist and Facebook marketplace? I see some on my local craigslist.
posted by Slinga at 6:16 AM on March 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

You could also post on freecycle or Buy Nothing groups. If you have an old phone with an adequate camera, you could make it your desktop camera.
posted by theora55 at 7:55 AM on March 31, 2020

Walmart usually has this sort of ordinary add-on.
posted by SemiSalt at 9:14 AM on March 31, 2020

Ebay seems to be functioning just fine - I've had to order a couple mission critical items. People are home bored and if anything shipping has been faster. I'm seeing a bunch with fast n free shipping within 100 miles of 60007, although there's a bit of a markup.
posted by aspersioncast at 9:43 AM on March 31, 2020

for tech positions that also will depend on presenting well through this medium

For your reference.
posted by WCityMike at 5:29 PM on March 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

Thanks, WCityMike -- That article reminded me about the importance of sound quality, and I actually do have a pretty good Blue Snowball mike. We're working on configuring it now.
posted by amtho at 7:27 PM on March 31, 2020

Older FireWire-based "iSight" webcams are easily obtainable on eBay and ought to work without additional drivers on most modern Linux distributions. I haven't personally tested mine on Linux though, just Mac OS. They are fine cameras despite only being 640x480. Good built-in microphone array as well.

Obviously you need to have a computer with a FireWire port to use one, though.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:21 AM on April 1, 2020

last resort is Wyze, they released a firmware for their cheap security camera to act as a bad webcam.
Wyze Webcam Firmware

Framerate is maybe once a second or less, and there seems to be a significant lag. If you have other options, go for those first.

But this is in stock on amazon, i got it in one day. it needs a weird USB A-A which i hadnt heard of before. 1 camera + cable + microsd was under $50, but the video quality looks like $2. I just set mine up.
posted by TheAdamist at 3:32 PM on April 2, 2020

Another possibility: Guitar Center
posted by SemiSalt at 5:52 PM on April 2, 2020

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