Let’s set the scene: It’s time for another web meeting, so you launch Zoom or Skype or Teams and sigh because, once again, you’re bending your neck at an unnatural angle to look into your webcam. Or maybe you aren’t even bothering, and instead, giving everyone a view of your profile or the top of your head. That’s where PlexiCam comes in. This clever contraption holds your webcam or smartphone at eye level so you look at the camera while also seeing your computer’s screen. Let’s dive in to see how well it works, and if it’s worth buying.
PlexiCam is a clear acrylic arm that hangs from the top of your desktop or laptop display. It positions your webcam or smartphone at eye level so it appears you’re looking directly at the other participants in your web call. You don’t need any tools to set up PlexiCam, and it doesn’t attach permanently, so you can easily move it out of the way when you aren’t on a video call. Since it’s clear, you can see through to whatever is on your screen—whether it’s text, graphics, or your friend’s and coworker’s faces.
The kit includes everything you need to get started: a clear acrylic arm that hangs from the top of your display, an adjustable shelf for your webcam or smartphone, a thumb screw for your webcam’s threaded mount, adhesive clips for cable management, and a carrying pouch. Versions are available for laptop screens, 15-inch and larger displays, and for using DSLR cameras. The smartphone adapter is available as an add-on.
I’m using the PlexiCam Pro kit. It’s designed for displays between 15-inches and 27-inches, although it works fine with my 34-inch HP Z34C curved display. I also have the optional smartphone adapter.
The PlexiCam Pro+ is geared towards users with 21-inch and larger displays, plus it includes a second shelf for mounting a light. An optional 9-inch extension is available with this kit if you have a really big display. For DSLR camera users, there’s the PlexiCam Max kit.
Setting Up the PlexiCam
According to the PlexiCam website, it takes about 10 minutes to get up and running. Considering the process involves little more than taking the parts out of the box, attaching a webcam to the shelf, sliding the shelf onto the arm, and then hanging the arm off your display, that seems like a pretty generous time allotment. Maybe they’re including the time you spend untangling the webcam cable from everything else that’s connected to your USB hub. Or maybe they’re thinking about the time you spend adjusting the camera shelf up and down on the arm to get the position just right.
Regardless, setting up the PlexiCam is amazingly simple. My webcam sits high enough on the arm that I didn’t need the cable management clips. For everyone who does need them, however, it’s nice that the clips are included.
The PlexiCam is seriously simple to set up. It’s so simple, in fact, that after reading the included instructions, I heard Jeff Goldblum’s voice in my head saying, “There’s no step three.”
Using the PlexiCam
I position my PlexiCam at eye level and at my display’s vertical midpoint so it appears as if I’m looking directly at whoever sees me. It’s much more comfortable than looking above the top of my display where my webcam used to sit, and it feels more natural when I’m in web meetings, moderating webinars, or participating in podcasts. My Logitech C920 webcam is pretty small, so very little of my display is blocked.
But what about the arm hanging in front of the display, you ask? Surely it distorts whatever is behind it, so you’re losing a lot more usable screen space. Not so, dear reader. The acrylic is so clear that I can easily read text through it. Even letters at the edge of the arm are readable. It’s as close to invisible as you can get.
Since PlexiCam hangs from the top of your display, it’s easy to move. That’s important for people like me who want the camera out of the way when we aren’t using it. For me, this also raised the concern that using the device could scratch the display. After several months use, that hasn’t been a problem even though the bottom edge of the vertical arm does physically rest on the LCD screen surface. I assume if you slide the arm back and forth across the display a lot, you’ll eventually end up with scratches. Since I pick up the arm and then move it, I don’t expect this will be an issue for me.
My PlexiCam sits at the edge of my display when I don’t need my camera. For me, that’s no big deal because it’s in front of the display’s built-in speakers. Since the whole contraption is basically a transparent hook, you could just as easily hang it down the back side of your display, too.
Unfortunately, most every time I set the PlexiCam in position, I have to adjust the camera shelf a little to horizontally align my C920. I never have issues with the shelf shifting vertically, which is good because the thought of my camera slowly getting lower while recording a podcast sounds funnier than it would be in real life. Once my camera is horizontally aligned again, it stays in place without any problems.
Moving your webcam from the top of the display down to eye level also moves it closer to you. I have my C920 pushed back as far as it will go on the camera shelf and it’s still about three inches closer to my face. I don’t see that as a problem, but it’s something to be aware of because some people will notice. Backing my chair away from my desk certainly helps, but I can move only so far before it’s hard to read text on my display. I suspect people with better eyes than mine won’t have as much trouble with this. Alternately, this is just a sign that it’s time for me to get new glasses.
The Big Question: Is PlexiCam Worth Buying?
Should you buy a PlexiCam? If you’re already happy with your webcam placement, then you don’t really need a PlexiCam. But if you need the ability to really control your camera’s position without obscuring your display, then this is an excellent investment.
My PlexiCam is invaluable for podcasting, web presentations, and online meetings. I feel like I’m looking at everyone else instead of artificially aiming my face at a camera, and I can see everything I need on my display without constantly moving my head around. It does what I need without getting in my way, which is exactly what I want in my workstation camera mount. You can buy Plexicam at plexicam.com/…