Hands-On Review: The aoni A31 Full HD Webcam

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COVID-19 has caused more than a few consumer shortages, including the widespread absence of quality webcams. Luckily, there's the A31 Full HD Webcam from aoni, a webcam that is every bit as capable as its better-known peers and is also available right now at B&H. I was able to try the A31 Webcam in my home office and, despite my manager's persistence, will not be giving it back—it's that good. This is my review.

The A31 Full HD Webcam is a great teleconferencing solution for your home office needs.
The A31 Full HD Webcam is a great teleconferencing solution for your home office needs.

Setup and Installation

The A31 Webcam is plug-and-play, which means installation is about as straightforward as you can imagine. Just plug the integrated USB 2.0 connector into an open port on your computer or laptop and that's it. If your computer already has a built-in webcam, you might have to select the A31 from the drop-down settings menu in certain apps, but otherwise you should be good to go. There is an extra step if you want to use the A31's internal mic as your primary audio source, but it's just as straightforward—select USB Audio Input from the app's audio settings and it will switch over to the A31's built-in mic for audio.

To mount the A31, use the adjustable hinge at the base to position it at the desired angle. No screws, no brackets—just open or close the hinge to where you want it, and that's it. The whole process should take seconds, not even minutes.

The A31 features a 1/2.7" CMOS sensor that captures 2MP stills and video resolutions up to 1080p at 30 fps.
The A31 features a 1/2.7" CMOS sensor that captures 2MP stills and video resolutions up to 1080p at 30 fps.

Image Quality

The A31 Webcam features a 1/2.7" CMOS sensor that can capture 2MP stills and video resolutions up to 1080p at 30 fps. On paper, that's better than the built-in cameras in many high-end computers and laptops. The FaceTime camera on my iMac, for example, is a 0.9MP sensor with a maximum resolution of 720p. In addition to its Full HD resolution, the A31 also features autofocus, automatic white balance, and an 84° field of view—all of which enhance its overall picture quality.

Although it doesn't have low-light correction, I noticed that the A31 Full HD Webcam gave me noticeably brighter images than my built-in camera.

In practice, the A31's video and image quality appeared to be better than my 720p built-in camera, though the improvement in video quality was only marginal. However, the image quality is an improvement over what I already own, and for someone who doesn't own a webcam, it's an excellent choice—especially if you're looking for a solution that delivers crisp, clean, high-resolution video.

A screenshot from a FaceTime call using the A31 camera. Not sure why I look so sad and/or confused, but the video quality was good, and the color accuracy of my shirt was pretty spot-on.

To get the highest quality of video recording, aoni recommends a 3.0 GHz Intel® Core 2 Duo processor (or higher), 2GB of RAM, and at least 200MB of storage. I tested the A31 on an iMac equipped with more than the base requirements and experienced no lag whatsoever. However, I also used the A31 on a much older laptop with a lower-than-recommended clock speed and did get some intermittent lagging. When I adjusted the resolution, the lagging stopped, but it's worth mentioning that aoni's system requirements seem to be accurate.

Despite the slight lag I experienced with my older PC laptop, there doesn't appear to be any issue running the A31 on either Windows or macOS.

Sound Quality

With most of the emphasis put on a webcam's image resolution, it's easy to forget that sound quality also matters. After all, what good is high-res video if the person on the other end can't hear you? Luckily, the A31's built-in mic is solid.

According to aoni, the A31 features an omnidirectional microphone that can pick up voice audio up to 16.4' away with a signal-to-noise ratio greater than 48 dB. What that means for people like you and me is that your voice is going to sound clear on all your calls and recordings—or as clear as it can be. Personally, I'm from a region in the Midwest not typically known for our powers of articulation (we charmingly pronounce words like "forty-four" as "farty-far," as in, "stay narth on highway farty-far"), so I'm never going to sound all that clear, no matter how good the mic is. Regardless, the A31's microphone does an admirable job of capturing my voice accurately, including its dialectical idiosyncrasies.

The A31 Webcam's articulating hinge makes it easy to mount onto any computer or laptop, no tools required.
The A31 Webcam's articulating hinge makes it easy to mount onto any computer or laptop—no tools required.

External vs. Internal

Even though the A31's image resolution is higher than what you'd get from the built-in cameras of many computers and laptops, it's worth examining whether or not that makes it a good investment. For anyone who doesn't already own a webcam, it absolutely is. For a reasonable price, you're getting an easy-to-use solution that captures solid video and clear audio—everything a good webcam should do.

For those who own a computer with a built-in camera, the question of whether the A31 is a good investment is a little more involved, but the answer is still yes. The reason, though, has as much to do with the A31's specs as it does with inherent advantages of external webcams over internal cameras.

If you've ever been in a video meeting with anyone who's using their laptop's built-in camera as a webcam, then you're probably familiar with some of the inherent problems. Picture quality often isn't great. Worse than that, the fixed direction of most laptop cameras often results in some pretty unflattering viewing angles. External webcams like the A31 don't have those same issues because typically they can be adjusted to your desired angle. The A31, for example, has a foldable hinge on its base that allows you to mount it however you like, giving you complete control over the frame. It's a small thing—maybe one you don't even notice consciously. But trust me, once you see the difference between that unflattering up-your-nose shot and a properly framed viewing angle, you'll never go back.

Another thing you may not have considered is being able to mount the webcam on other screens. Want to run your Zoom call on your huge TV and lead the meeting from the comfort of your couch? Well, the A31 is going to be much easier to mount on the screen than balancing your whole laptop up there.

Final Verdict

Before the A31 arrived at my doorstep, I had never heard of aoni. Like most people, when it came to webcams, I knew about Logitech and Microsoft and a couple other "big name" players. But despite its not yet being a household name, the A31 proves that aoni is every bit as capable at producing a quality webcam. With a street price around $50, the A31 is priced in the same range as Logitech's excellent C310HD Webcam, and I would argue it's every bit as good, if not better—depending on your needs. But all comparisons aside, what you need to know is that the A31 Full HD Webcam is a very good webcam solution that delivers crisp hi-res video and clear audio for a very reasonable price. In a world where good webcams are becoming harder and harder to find, the A31 is definitely one you should scoop up while you still can.

Questions about the A31 Full HD Webcam or webcams in general? Drop us a line in the Comments section, below.

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26 Comments

I just got this webcam and it seems super widescreen compared to the built-in one on my computer, which I don't really want for videoconferencing.  Is there a way to adjust this?  Also, when placed on top of my computer monitor, the view angle is quite bad looking down on me.  Seems problematic in that ergonomically, your eyes want to be at the center of the monitor, but the camera also wants to be centered on your eyes.  (and with the widescreen, you see every little corner of my room and piles of things that would not normally be visible) Anyway, my problems might be isolated to my particular computer setup (a large all-in-one computer), but, I'm having trouble making it work.  Let me know if anyone has tips.

Hi, Anna. You're absolutely correct: the A31 does have a wider field of view than a standard built-in lens. Unfortunately, there isn't a way to adjust this on the device itself. I will say that, at first, I didn't want as wide of an angle either (my "office" is in the kitchen and the background was a little too busy for video conferencing), so I used virtual backgrounds to just erase it. That might be a solution for you. As far as the positioning goes: Sounds like you might want to look at a tripod or other type of articulating mount that will let you get angle you want. When I was experimenting with the right angle of mine, I actually mounted it on the side of a cup to get the angle I was looking for. 

I received my webcam and am using it with Zoom. For some reason, my face is very purple (not super flattering...) and this wasn't a problem with the laptop built-in camera. Is there a way to adjust color balance or anything else? Any ideas? Thanks!

We are sorry to hear about any issues you are facing.  Please email us directly at [email protected] so that we may better assist you. 

I just received my camera today. I'm really quite happy with it --review later. I was using the Wyze v2 with webcam software. The video was pretty good, for what it was (actually as good as this aoni except for that wide-angle circular field). The audio was pretty bad. I ordered this because of the mic--which is way better than my 25 year old Labtec AM242. Is there any type of software (WinX or even Chrome OS) that will interface with this camera to make adjustments? The WinX built in Camera app doesn't do much. 

The built in microphone isn't that great.  The sound quality is due to the limitations of the hardware.  You can try using your Windows operating system built in equalizer to make adjustments.  But I would suggest looking into a dedicated microphone like the Blue Snowball Ice microphone.  

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1252289-REG/blue_snowball_ice_black_snowball_usb_condenser_microphone.html

Is there a tripod mount screw hole on the webcam mount itself? Being able to mount the webcam directly to a tripod is extremely helpful in certain situations.

Hi, Aaron!

There is a tripod mount screw hole on the A31's adjustable base. The A31's owner manual doesn't list the thread size, so you might need an adapter, depending on the screw mount size of your tripod or other stabilizer. Just as an aside: One of the things I liked about the A31 was how well it mounted to objects using just its articulating base. In the second picture above, the A31 is actually mounted on the side of my coffee cup. It's surprisingly stable, considering the straightforward design.

Will it work with (Ubuntu) Linux?

Hi, Mark!

So, this took me a minute to test out, and I'm fairly confident saying the A31 Full HD Webcam should work with Ubuntu - with some caveats. I wasn't running Linux on any of my current computers or laptops, so I went ahead and installed Ubuntu on my Chromebook using crouton. After that, I installed Cheese. Cheese automatically recognized the A31 (good sign) but I kept having issues with the picture quality (not so good sign). Specifically, whenever I set the resolution higher in Cheese, it would throw up an error. When I lowered it, everything would work fine, but the image quality didn't seem as sharp. I am in no way a Linux expert, so maybe there's an easy fix for this, or maybe it's a driver issue I'm not aware of. I'm gonna fool around with it a bit more and see what's what, but I wanted to give you an update in case it helps. 

Does it come with a privacy cover and is it better than the C920s webcam by Logitech?

Hi, Debra!

The A31 does not come with a privacy cover, though turning it around is a simple flick of the wrist if you're (understandably) concerned about privacy issues. Is it better than C920s? Mmmmyeah, I would not go that far. Spec-wise, they're very similar. Both are rated to capture 1080p30 video and 2MP stills. The A31 has a slightly wider field of view, but probably not enough to sway you one way or the other. Both offer auto-focus and automatic white balance. The C920s has a better mic setup and is backed by Logitech's Capture software, which is really cool when it's working correctly (it does get a little fussy now and then). But putting all that aside: the C920s is one of the most celebrated webcams for a reason. It's just an all-around great webcam with very few weakness, if any. I think the A31 is definitely in the same weight class, but I would not say it's better. 

You can also use a Post-It note.  Just fold the note in such a way that the adhesive section will stick to the top of the cam and the folded section will overhang the lens.  Simple! :)

Gah. Can't believe I never thought of that. I literally have like 7 different Post-It notes (some of them very out of date) stuck to my computer - but it never even occurred to me to use them for a privacy cover. Usually I just drape a shirt over it like some kind of caveman. Thanks for the great tip, Henry!

does it compress video?

Yes, all webcams compress video using a "codec" (compressor/decompressor). Older well-known codecs include .AVI and .MPEG2 both of which result in a rather large file size. That's OK if you have plenty of storage space (for recorded videos) but is unsuitable for video chat/tele-conferencing because it requires considerable resources to transmit over the internet. For that reason video conferencing was limited to lower resolutions such as 640x480 and 1280x720.

Newer codecs such as H.264 achieve greater compression which results in smaller file size and easier transmission over the internet. Importantly, the video quality is about the same as the older codecs, and you can do a video conference at 1920x1080 resolution if the conferencing app you're using and your internet speed permit it. 

Hi, Toni!

Andrew M. gave an excellent response to your question, and just to follow up a bit, I want to mention that the A31 uses M-JPEG, instead of the H.264. As Andrew pointed out, this means the A31 doesn't have the same compression efficiency or bandwidth savings as webcams that use H.264. 

I’m looking for a good camera, I already have good sound from another resource.

The Aoni A31 would be a great webcam for your video conferencing needs.  Though if you are looking for something more professional, please contact us a [email protected]photovideo.com and we can assist you better with your live stream needs.

Hi, William!

We've listed five of our favorite webcams here: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/computers/hands-on-review/5-of-our-favorite-webcams.

The aoni A31 isn't on that list, but only because I wrote it before I had tested the aoni A31 out. I would definitely include it now as one of the better options if you're looking for a webcam that offers solid picture quality that's better than most laptop cameras, is super easy to set up and use, and comes at a reasonable price. There are other webcams on that list that might be of interest to you as well, especially if you're looking for something with a higher resolution. 

Given that it's the same price as the Logitech C310HD Webcam, if you have to buy one, which one would you buy?

The Aoni A31 would have a better video resolution and better microphones.  I would choose the A31 over the C310.

Hi, Taufiq!

Personally, I would get the aoni, but for a couple reasons that might not apply to you. I've used the Logitech C310HD before, and with the right lighting, I feel like the picture quality between the two webcams are pretty equal. But my desk is in a corner in my kitchen that doesn't always get great light, and the Logitech C310HD struggles a bit in low-light environments. Second, I rely on the aoni for my teleconference audio. The aoni does a good job at noise isolation and background noise rejection (which is important to me because I don't live alone and there's sometimes noise in the background). I remember the Logitech C310HD being pretty underwhelming when it came to blocking out background noise, so again, for my setup, I'd go with the aoni. 

Can you provide any sample images or videos?

this!

Hi, Caleb!

Just uploaded a screenshot from a FaceTime call and a still image I captured in Photo Booth. Hope it helps! 

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