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(Pocket-lint) - Picking up one of the top document cameras allows you to replace the overhead projector with a more modern equivalent, making presentations more engaging and easier to manage.

While the primary function of these visualisers is likely to be in the classroom - thanks to their ability to show live footage of books, writing and even artistic demonstrations - they can also be used in conference rooms to help bypass the static PowerPoint.

They're also viable whether you want to use a recorded or live segment, and whether teaching is being done in person or at a distance through a video conferencing app. 

Before you dive in and buy any old device, though, it's important to consider how it fits in your current setup. All will come with a USB or HDMI connector, but more premium ones will work wirelessly, too. Naturally, you'll also need to know what size fits your desk, as well as what camera and resolution you require for the job at hand.  

To help you discover some of the top document cameras, we've detailed them in this complete guide. 


What are the top document cameras? Currently, our top recommendation is the Ipevo V4K Document Camera. Other document cameras to consider are the Ipevo VZ-X, iCodis X3 Document Camera, Thustand Document Camera and Jourist DC80 Document Camera.


Our Top Pick: Best Document Camera

IpevoBest document cameras: Leave the projector behind with these top visual presenters photo 7

Ipevo V4K Document Camera

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For

  • Solid build quality
  • Many connectivity options

Against

  • The highest resolution only has 15FPS
  • Not the sleekest

This Ipevo V4K isn't quite as expensive as others from the company, but that doesn't mean it skimps on quality. 

In fact, for the price, you get a solid array of features. There's an 8MP camera that's able to help capture 3264 x 2448 resolution (at 15 frames-per-second). It's also able to shoot at 30 frames-per-second in HD, with fast auto-focusing helping you shift between documents without issue. 

Handily, it's also compatible with Mac, PC and Chromebook devices, as well as third-party conferencing apps. 

Document cameras we also recommend

Though the Ipevo V4K is a superb pick for most people, that doesn't necessarily make it the best option for everybody. That's why we've also detailed four other document cameras to consider.

iCodisBest document cameras: Leave the projector behind with these top visual presenters photo 5

iCodis X3 Document Camera

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For

  • Cool design
  • Folds neatly away
  • Up to A3 size coverage

Against

  • Not cheap
  • Not compatible with MacOS

The iCodis X3 is a bit more toward the pricey end of the entry-level document scanners, but it does give you a couple of neat benefits for the extra outlay.

Firstly, though, the downsides of this pick are that it doesn't particularly travel well, given the large base, and the fact it isn't compatible with macOS.

This naturally won't be an issue for those keeping their document camera in one fixed place - and those who don't own a Mac - with the 8MP camera (capturing at 3264 x 2448), 4 LED lights and up to A3 coverage giving you plenty to work with.

It also has a lot of neat features to play around with, such as intelligent continuous shooting, automatic correction/segmentation, and filling in broken edges of scanned pages.

IpevoBest document cameras: Leave the projector behind with these top visual presenters photo 3

Ipevo VZ-X

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For

  • Huge variety of connection options
  • Solid construction
  • Wireless option

Against

  • Very expensive

Ipevo is one of the bigger names in document cameras, and it's easy to see why the VZ-X is a popular choice. 

It's extremely pricey compared to the other devices on this list, but this is largely due to its versatility in how you connect, as well as the overall capturing performance. Those who want to use it in Wi-Fi and HDMI mode can capture it in HD, while those who require a USB connection can shoot in 3264 x 2448. 

It's also able to connect to not just your computer or monitor, but iOS and Android devices, Apple TV and projectors, too.  

If you do choose to use it wirelessly, expect around 9-12 hours of battery life and 33ft range. And, however you use it, you'll be able to enjoy the max shooting area of 283 x 501mm in 16:9 aspect ratio and 363 x 483mm in 4:3 with a built-in LED lighting it all up when required.

ThustandBest document cameras: Leave the projector behind with these top visual presenters photo 6

Thustand Document Camera

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For

  • Interesting basic design
  • Easy manoeuvrability and adjustability

Against

  • Interesting basic design
  • Not portable with disassembly

Thustand's USB Document Camera hasn't got the most modern design, but it does deliver neat performance in the classroom.

That aluminium base and the metal bracket aren't overly attractive, as we say, but they are sturdy and ideal for staying in place in the classroom. It also allows the camera to swivel 360-degrees, which is great for those who want more than just a face-down document camera.

When you are capturing, you'll be taking advantage of the standard 8MP camera shooting in 3264 x 2448 at 15 frames-per-second. You also get the option to shoot in HD at 30 frames-per-second, too, and can connect to Windows, macOS, Chromebook devices and third-party conferencing apps.

JouristBest document cameras: Leave the projector behind with these top visual presenters photo 8

Jourist DC80 Document Camera

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For

  • Up to A3 coverage
  • Clean, foldable design

Against

  • Plastic construction
  • Software needs work

Like other USB visualisers on this list, Jurist's DC80 is another great consideration for those hooking up to a Windows or Mac computer. 

It's able to reach 3264 x 2448 pixels at its peak, with the 8MP camera and CMOS sensor providing a crisp and clear view - one backed up by the built-in LED light, auto-focus feature, automatic white balancing and, for audio, the built-in microphone. 

It's also one of the smarter designs around, too, with the camera able to rotate 270-degrees, and the lever able to be adjusted to give the user a reach the size of a sheet of A3. 

Other products we considered

When looking for the best document cameras currently available, we spent hours testing and researching. We consider a number of factors when it comes to recommending these visualisers - and apply the same criteria when a new device is being considered for inclusion. It's not all judged on our testing, either - we also try to factor in consumer reviews, brand quality and value.

In all of our roundups, there are also many products we test that don't make the final cut. Since they may be the right fit for some people, however, we've listed them below.

How to choose a document camera

Document cameras mimic the older projectors but in a significantly minimised package. Most have a similar hinged design that allows for a variety of adjustments. Some are quite portable, while others are best suited for static use. As with most things, prices vary quite a bit, though you can get quite a bit for your money.

So, what should you be looking out for?

Why should you buy a document camera?

Document cameras are great for teachers or lecturers who often work out of a book or use annotation as part of their teaching style. They're also great for offices where people are presenting quite a lot. You may find that they form a great replacement for scanners too, so can replace quite a few other devices and save a load of space in your office.

What will you use the speaker for?

Just as the classroom projectors of old, document cameras offer the ability to project and annotate images onto a bigger screen. But document cameras offer so much more.

You can mirror the images onto your computer for online learning, make overhead videos for streaming, and even use it for a webcam. And because many have a diminutive size, they're far more portable than their ancestors. 

What resolution do you want?

Most document cameras these days offer a very impressive 3264 x 2448 pixels. This often comes at the cost of a lower frame rate of 15FPS, though some higher-end options come in at 30FPS at this resolution. However, if you're happy with 1080p (or full HD), then most offer that resolution at a decent 30FPS. Now, this may not matter too much, and completely depends on whether you're using the document camera for a webcam, for streaming, or simply as a projector.

Is portability a requirement?

Document cameras range in size a fair amount. Some are nicely portable, with a folding design and smaller size. Others have larger bases to increase stability and are best used as a fixed camera. If you're in a teaching environment, perhaps a fixed camera is ok, but if you're on the move then a smaller option would probably suit you better.

What's the connectivity like?

Most of the document cameras in this list can connect to Windows and Mac operating systems without a problem. There are some that are limited, however, so it's definitely worth checking before you purchase. Some of the higher-end options can even connect to your iPhone or Android, or can connect straight to Wi-Fi. The software can be a fact too, as we all know that it's not all made equally. Some f these cameras have their own drivers that may not play nice with every system.

More about this story

Every product in this list has been assessed thoroughly to ensure it will perform exactly as a recommended pick should.

We've thought about everything, factoring in how each model will perform when being used for work presentations, personal calls and even as a webcam. This meant diving into the key specs and features, such as individual connections, camera shooting quality and design. From there, we've then crossed our judgements with each individual price tag to ensure they represent good value for money, too. 

As with any roundup, it's not possible to deliver a list that works for every type of user, but we lean on the experiences and opinions of the wider Pocket-lint team - as well as thoroughly assessing the areas above - in order to do our best in this regard.

What we always tend to avoid when compiling these picks are needless spec comparisons and marketing lines; we just want to provide an easy to understand summary that gives you an idea of what each charging station is like to use. Our verdicts are concise, but this is purely in the interest of brevity.

Writing by Conor Allison.