Why Skinny Bezel Laptops Could Have Been a Unhealthy Thought After All

I've complained about the size of the laptop bezels for years. Since Dell launched the trend in 2015 with the revised XPS 13, I have been pushing for ever smaller bezels in laptops in order to match the performance of phone manufacturers.

During this time, the iPhone no longer had a home button on a large lower chin, but almost no lower bezel. I wanted laptops to take the same innovative approach.

But then 2020 came and priorities and usage habits were turned upside down. In retrospect, the urge for ultra-thin bezels may have been a mistake.

Design compromises

Let's start with why this whole thing started in the first place. Why would you want thin bezels at all, you ask? The obvious answer is looks. Thinner bezels just feel futuristic. They remove the distractions and bring the content of the screen to the fore. But let's face it: when you add thinner bezels to your products, the main thing is to follow trends. Nobody wants to look out of date.

But as with all things in technology and design, there is a compromise behind every small decision. And when it comes to shrinking bezels, the webcam has always been the victim. Some laptops have tried to take the camera to bizarre places, such as at the office. B. under a key or in the lower panel.

In practice, most of us didn't mind that much. It certainly didn't stop me from crowning the best laptop you could buy at the time. Sure, the nasal camera was disgusting. But most people would use it so rarely that it wasn't a deal breaker. And finally, the laptop manufacturers actually found ways to downsize the camera module and insert it into the smallest possible top bezel.

But here, too, there was a compromise. These smaller camera modules required a smaller sensor that struggled even more with low-light scenarios. The result is a webcam that is basically only intended for emergencies. Not something you want to force your co-workers or family members to suffer on a daily basis.

And for many of us that is exactly the situation we are in today. Zoom or teams are on the phone all day. A lot of people who had never turned on their webcam found out how bad the quality really was. And then you regret the size of the bezel.

Laptop webcams suck

Before 2021, it was next to impossible to find a laptop with a 1080p webcam. 720p was the standard, and compared to the other devices we all own, that was just sad. In recent months, laptop manufacturers have started to focus on 1080p webcams, such as new laptops from MSI and Lenovo. It didn't come as quickly as I'd hoped it would, but I still celebrated some 1080p options.

As these companies have kept saying, the higher resolution would mean a bigger camera module. And with this bigger camera came a thicker top bezel. Unlike phones and tablets, the thickness of a laptop lid doesn't have much space behind the screen. Hence the need for a large bezel. It's not a flattering look, but in 2021 it's a compromise that most people would likely prefer. This is the opposite of what I would have said a little over a year ago.

Do not get me wrong. When I see thin bezels on a laptop, I still feel happy. This is especially true now for the lower or side bezels.

But these days, a slim top bezel makes me less reluctant to recommend a laptop than a thicker bezel with a better webcam. The average laptop user shouldn't need to purchase a separate external webcam to perform basic tasks. Until a major innovation in cameras and bezels hits the market, thick bezels could be the future of laptop design.

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