I have video calls pretty much every weekday, so webcams are a central part of my work environment, and even though I'm not a pro streamer (not even a hobbyist one, for that matter), I'm keenly aware of my, er, aesthetic flaws when my face is projected onto my colleagues' screens. So 4K webcams sound exciting and terrifying in equal terms.
I got the HP 965 4K Streaming Webcam in for testing to see if it would assuage those fears and rival the best webcams on the market today for picture quality, but without revealing all those emerging wrinkles, somehow. Also, while it's marketed as a business webcam, could it be an alternative to our best webcams for streaming?
After a few weeks of regular use along with a suite of HP and Poly accessories (which will have their own reviews over the coming days and weeks) and thorough testing of picture modes and lighting settings, I can confirm it's definitely one of the better 4K cameras out there, but not one without some slight frustrations...
HP 965 4K Streaming Webcam review: Key specs
|Diagonal field of view:||100°/90°/78°|
|Framing type:||Auto framing|
|Microphone:||Dual noise-reducing microphone|
|Lens:||18mm, F2.0 lens, Sony STARVIS™ CMOS sensor|
|Connection type:||Wired USB-A, 1.5m cable|
|Dimensions:||4.14 x 4.34 x 8.66cm / 1.63 x 1.71 x 3.41in|
|Weight:||227g / 0.5lb|
Design and build
The look of the HP 965 4K Streaming Webcam will be instantly familiar with anyone who's worked with HP kit before. The plastic chassis comes in that same matte black we've seen on every HP keyboard and mouse for the last several years, for example, although the environmentally conscious among us (me included) will be pleased by the fact that this familiar casing is now made from 85% post-consumer recycled plastic, and the packaging, both the box and the corrugated cushions inside it are sustainably sourced.
The mount, like the main chassis, is reassuringly sturdy to the touch and the hinges are firm but can be adjusted easily enough. There's a tripod mount thread for a standard tripod mount screw on the lower plate, which is covered in rubber for a soft, scratch-free fit against the back of a monitor.
The mount attaches fairly firmly against any monitor I tried it on, although there was a little noticeable wobble when it was pinned against a gaming monitor with a rounded protruding back (which meant I had to fit it at about a 75-degree angle instead of the usual 120-plus degrees.
The camera connects via USB-A 3.0, and was easy and fairly automatic to set up on every device I plugged it into. There's also a magnetic lid that snaps onto the front of the lens, both to protect the lens and give the user an assurance of privacy.
Features and performance
AI is the buzzword of the year, and it features here too, as the HP 965 4K Streaming Webcam utilises AI-powered tracking tech to help the camera follow you around the room (within its field of view, mind). It all sounds very advanced, but essentially, what it does is similar to the Windows Hello feature that's increasingly common in webcams and on laptops, where the camera can decide which part of the frame is a person, and then the auto-framing feature makes sure that person is kept prominent and as centred as possible in calls where you might be presenting and need to walk or move around.
The 5x zoom function helps this by adjusting the zoom as you move around, such as from a chair at the desk (close to the camera) to a whiteboard on the wall behind it, further away from the camera.
My office is fairly small, but I noticed every time I moved around that it followed me around pretty actively, reframing me as I moved side-to-side or nearer to/further from the camera within a couple of seconds of me moving.
The picture sharpness and quality, as you would expect from a near-£200 4K webcam from one of the world's most famous computer hardware makers, is mostly superb. The picture is sharp and crispy while all motion remains fluid. However, the lighting was a little inconsistent for me.
I do most of my work in an office at home that has a large window right next to my desk, with a single overhead lightbulb, so light often looks fairly harsh on my pale skin when captured by any webcam, but while the QHD Dell Pro Webcam was able to flatter my features with excellent lighting adjustments, I struggled to find lighting and picture settings on the HP 965 that didn't feel either washed out, unnaturally soft or unforgivingly harsh and sharp. Maybe this is just a quirk of the specific circumstances of my work environment, but I am obliged to mention it here. Strangely, that Dell camera uses a near-identical Sony STARVIS sensor to the one used here, so I'm not sure what the core cause of this difference is.
However, the microphone, unlike the pedestrian one on the aforementioned Dell unit, is excellent. The dual noise-reducing mics here picked up my speech no matter where in the room I was, without any unwanted disturbance. In one instance, I kept talking while an ambulance and fire engine wailed past on a nearby road, and no one on the other side reported hearing that or complained about not hearing me at any point, even when I asked them whether they had picked up any problems there.
At the time of writing this, the HP 965 4K webcam is only available in the US-based HP store, where it retails for $199.99, although you can probably rely on it being discounted around big trading events. This camera's close cousin, the HP 960 4K, is on sale in the UK shop, at £199.99.
This is not cheap for a webcam, but is par for the course when it comes to 4K ones. The Logitech Brio, our 4K camera of choice among our best webcams rundown, for example, has an RRP of £239.99/$199.99, and the Dell UltraSharp, the Pro's 4K-specced big sibling
Should I buy the HP 965 4K Streaming Webcam?
If you are a business professional (or need to stock an office conference room), the reliable, high-quality HP 965 4K Streaming Webcam will be a strong choice among the best webcams on the market today. With a 90-degree field of view in 4K mode, clever auto-framing that keeps a moving presenter in shot, and excellent dual mics, it's a good option for an evenly lit meeting space. However, I had issues with lighting adjustments against varying natural light, which led to some unflattering scenarios. And if you're a Twitch streamer or vlogger, you'll certainly find something more exciting (and cheaper too) for your streaming ventures.