Experiences with Zoom, external webcam and USB hub?

Has anyone had success using Zoom with an external webcam and a USB hub?

Zoom video works if my camera is plugged into one of the USB sockets on my 2015 MacBook Pro, but if I use a hub (even a powered one) the video becomes so laggy that it’s unusable.

I’m not entirely surprised, but it’s annoying that Photo Booth video works fine through the hub, and so does Zoom on a Dell Windows laptop.

I’m running Big Sur (but the problem was there in Mojave) and the latest version of Zoom. The webcam is a moderately-priced Chinese one with a USB2 interface. The hub is a cheap-and-cheerful USB3 switch with a micro-USB socket for external power. I was hoping to be able to switch the webcam and a headset between the Mac and the PC, and indeed that works – but Zoom doesn’t like it.

I’d happily spend more on both the webcam and the hub if I could find a solution that worked. Thanks in advance for any insights.

Mine works fine plugged into my hub, but the camera is USB-C and the hub is Thunderbolt ($250).

Links below:

I have not experienced the problem Charles Butcher mentions.

I have been using a Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 connected via one of a pair of Anker USB 3.0 7-Port Hubs each connected to a USB type A connector on a 2018 Macmini8,1. The Logitech camera is vintage early 2017 and the Netgear hubs are vintage 2012 and 2014. Running USB-connected Time Machine drives via the same hub has no effect on video, Zoom or Otherwise.

My technical experience with Zoom and GoToMeeting has been adversely affected only by network-related problems occurring for some other participant.

Thanks for that, @tjluoma. You get what you pay for, I guess, and a setup like this will have to wait until I replace the MacBook. Or did you mean that your Mac is a Thunderbolt 2 machine, like mine?

Thank you @james.cutler. Do you know if that camera is USB3? Mine is USB2, apparently, though I don’t know whether that could make a difference.

On the other hand, my new hub is clearly rubbish because it’s taken to crashing the MacBook, so perhaps all I need is a better one. I like the fact that it can switch its input between two computers, though, and quality units of that type are harder to find.

I didn’t mention that Skype works fine with my camera through an unpowered USB2 hub, and even lets me use a virtual background, which Zoom refuses to do. So whatever Zoom is doing is a bit peculiar.

I used to have one of those switchable USB hubs. It has long since been recycled in favor of the more reliable powered Anker hubs.
I have not seen Zoom care about which kind of camera I use - built-in or external, new Logitech or old MacAlly. It could be a power problem. The only reliable diagnostic is to substitute a known good hub - borrowed or bought. I have had good luck with Anker powered hub with the via chipset.

The Logitech C920 is USB-2.

The Logitech C920 is a UVC compliant camera, like most recent external webcams, and internally encodes video to H.264 which specifies with a maximum target bit rate of 25 Mbps, much less than USB 2 theoretical maximum of 480 Mbps.

I chose available USB 3 hubs to also connect other devices such as backup disk drives. For my uses, USB 3.1 is not required (10 Gbps) since USB 3.0 (5 Gbps) exceeds most hard drive speeds and Time Machine backups are automatically suspended during Carbon Copy Cloner backups using shell scripts called by the backup task.

Thanks again. On hubs, I’ll cut my losses for the moment. The switching function was the whole point of the exercise, but since I have only two devices to connect I’ll put up with that. The alternative is to buy a single-input hub that would still require me to swap a cable around and still might not work with Zoom. I’d go for Anker’s 7-port powered hub, but they are hard to find here in the UK and the 10-port version is overkill for me.

Your information on webcams is interesting. I looked up UVC and it appears to have been around for a long time, so I’d be surprised if it wasn’t included in even cheap devices. Still, there are different UVC classes and perhaps that makes a difference. My camera – around £40 on Amazon – reports itself as Sonix, a Taiwanese company that makes video controllers among other things, It has a rubbish microphone but the image quality is excellent.

Still, I might spring for a Logitech C920. I bought the cheaper webcam because Logitech were out of stock in March, for some odd reason :wink:

I have the Logitech Streamcam like @tjluoma and a powered Anker 3.0 hub. No issues at all.

Just to wrap this one up, it seems my problem with a combination of Zoom and a USB hub was down to my Dericam webcam. I’ve replaced that with a Logitech C920 Pro, which has worked OK.

That’s a shame, because the Dericam has quite good image quality (though the microphone is poor) and it’s inexpensive (though I had to pay twice the current Amazon price of GBP 20).

To recap, the issue was video freezing in Zoom when the Dericam was connected to my 2015 MBP via a powered USB hub. Zoom was fine without the hub, and other video apps were fine with the hub.

It seems you get what you pay for. Who knew?

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