Skip to main content

MSI brought the only laptop with a 1080p webcam to CES, and I’m mad

In 2020, we all learned the hard way just how bad our laptop webcams all are. They’re a horrible, grainy mess, and they make for a terrible videoconferencing experience.

That’s why I was certain that coming to CES 2021, the virtual show-floor would be flooded with laptops with 1080p webcams. Surely, after over eight months of constant blurry Zoom calls, companies like Lenovo, HP, Dell, and Asus would relieve our pain. But I was wrong. Very, very wrong.

Only one company, MSI, had the smarts to bring a proper 1080p webcam to its laptops — and it’s not the one you would have thought.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

The GE76 and GE77 Raider are two of MSI’s new gaming laptops, both refreshed with new silicon from Nvidia inside and a fresh coat of paint on the outside. The laptops are filled to the brim with interesting new features, but its webcam was what made me do a double-take.

MSI says it’s worked for years behind the scenes to get a 1080p webcam in one of its laptops. Kudos to MSI. Being the only manufacturer with a piece of hardware isn’t easy. It probably wasn’t cheap, either. It’s not dissimilar to the work Dell had to do behind the scenes to shrink the size of its camera module to squeeze it into the tiny top bezel of the XPS 13. Oftentimes, it takes a lot of extra effort to convince a vendor that manufactures small computer parts to invest in a new technology that won’t ship in huge volume.

Meanwhile, companies like Lenovo and HP did upgrade their webcams this year, but only to 5 megapixels. That’s an improvement, but they’re still severely held back by the low resolution. As much as I appreciate what MSI has done here, gaming laptops are an odd place to feature a 1080p webcam. We need it in the work laptops we’re stuck using on a daily basis.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

At the moment, you can only find 720p webcams in tablets like the Surface Pro or iPad Pro. I spoke to Lenovo about why laptops have remained at 720p while tablets have moved to 1080p. The company replied by saying that in the past, improved webcams just weren’t a priority for its customers. But now that that has changed, Lenovo says making the operational gears of manufacturing take a while to start spinning, especially when it involves so many partnerships.

“Cameras were not quite getting the job done as well as they should be,” said Adam Howes, the product manager of the ThinkPad laptops. “Part of that is the hardware, part of that is the pipe coming into the home or wherever you are, and part of that is the software.”

It sounds like a lot of things to have to get right, but MSI just proved that it could have been done.

Howes did reassure me that 1080p webcams on Lenovo laptops were in the works. I have to assume that’s true of other manufacturers as well.

But the idea that new laptops with 720p webcams are still being announced at the world’s most advanced tech conference is a severe disappointment. For all the talk about empowering remote workers, we’re going to be left out to dry for the foreseeable future — unless you start using an MSI gaming laptop for work, that is.

Editors' Recommendations

Luke Larsen
Senior Editor, Computing
Luke Larsen is the Senior editor of computing, managing all content covering laptops, monitors, PC hardware, Macs, and more.
CES 2023: Sony’s excellent InZone gaming monitor now comes in 1080p
The Sony InZone M3 is now available for $530.

The latest gaming monitor in Sony's InZone line is now available for $530.

The Sony InZone M3 gaming monitor is a more affordable version of the InZone M9 that was released in July 2022 for $900. The specs are also lower, with Sony swapping out the 4K resolution on the M9 for a Full HD resolution on the M3.

Read more
CES 2023: 18-inch gaming laptops are back, baby
Alienware m18 laptop sitting on a table.

Eighteen-inch gaming laptops have made a grand return at CES 2023. Nearly every major laptop manufacturer brought their own version of 18-inch laptops, including ROG, Alienware, Predator, and even Razer.

It's certainly a shocking turn of events, especially since the trend has been moving in the opposite direction. Gaming laptops have continued to get thinner, lighter, and smaller -- even moving toward 14-inch devices in many cases.

Read more
CES 2023: LG’s new OLED laptop is officially thinner than the M2 MacBook Air
LG Gram 2-in-1 in use in a park.

With CES 2023 comes new laptops, and LG isn't being left behind. It's introducing two new machines, the LG Gram Style and LG Gram Ultraslim, each aimed at providing either innovative designs or extremely thin chassis.

Along with those two new designs, LG has brought updates to the standard Gram lineup, in 14-, 15-, 16-, 17-inch, and 2-in-1 models.

Read more