Razer Kiyo webcam review: Brightening up the life of a streamer
This webcam isn't without fault, but it's a solid choice if you're a streamer.
The Kiyo is part of Razer's broadcaster lineup of accessories, joined by the Seiren microphones and Ripsaw capture card. Their collective target: Streamers. Folks who need a quality product to produce a quality stream.
The Kiyo isn't like any normal webcam, though. And that's pretty obvious as soon as you clap eyes on it. It's big and round and has a really bright ring light out front. Overall, it's a solid product that has its faults, but might be the thing you need for your stream.
Light me up
$99.99Bottom line: Good image quality and the light is excellent, but Razer really should have included some companion software to help get the best from it.
Pros:Ring light is bright and easy to adjust.1080p video, 60fps at 720p.Punchy image with nice contrast (but beware of looking a little over saturated!).Built-in tripod mount.
Cons:Quite large.No companion software.Even small movements trigger auto-focus.Built-in microphone is on the quiet side.
What you'll love about the Razer Kiyo
The light. Arguably it's the single thing you'd be considering buying the Razer Kiyo for. Lighting is important if you're putting your face in a stream, because your viewers will want to see you and it doesn't look very professional if you're all dark and noisy. The light on the Kiyo cures all that without the need for external, often large lights.
- Video: 1080p/30fps or 720p/60fps.
- Adjustable ring light.
- Built-in microphone.
- Supports XSplit and OBS (and most Windows apps that support webcams).
- Standard tripod mount.
That also makes it a superb choice for a streamer who's tight on space. If you're using a green screen, this light alone probably won't be enough, but it's really bright. It's also super easy to adjust, you simply turn the ring and it gets brighter or dimmer.
The image quality when the room is well lit is pretty good and looks quite punchy with plenty of contrast. Comparing it to my Logitech C922, the Logitech's image for both photo and video looks more washed out. Even without the ring light activated on the Kiyo.
Video wise, the Kiyo shoots 1080p video but it's limited to 30FPS. If you're pushing out a 60FPS stream and want your webcam to match, you have to drop the resolution to 720p. If you're only using it in a small box on stream though, even 720p is overkill. But the facility is there.
And if you'd rather not have it hanging off your monitor (more on that below), there's a standard tripod mount on the bottom. Although you'll have to supply the tripod (unlike with the Logitech C922).
What you'll hate about the Razer Kiyo
This thing is huge. It covers an entire tab in my web browser with the piece that hooks over the front of the monitor, and it's an all-around giant. It isn't particularly heavy, at least, but it's huge. This is less of an issue if you're using it on a tripod, but it's quite the thing to mount on your monitor.
What's also disappointing is that Razer hasn't hooked up the Kiyo to its Synapse application. There are no software controls for the Kiyo whatsoever, so you can't zoom, pan, tilt, or adjust white balance and exposure. Any tweaks have to be done in your applications, like XSplit or OBS.
The built-in microphone is pretty quiet, which for a streamer isn't the end of the world. But if you don't have an external microphone, or even if you're using this in a pinch for something real-world like a conference call, folks on the other end may struggle to hear you.
There's also a pretty aggressive auto-focus. You never want to be out of focus, so it's great the Kiyo is fairly fast, but in my testing even only small movements can trigger the auto-focus, so you see that shifting movement. It isn't the end of the world but if you do move around a lot, it's something to bear in mind. Especially since there's no companion app to set manual focus with.
Bottom line on the Razer Kiyo
For the target audience, streamers, the Kiyo is a great choice. Even if you have external lighting, the ring light illuminates your face evenly in even the darkest of situations, so you'll always be seen on your stream. The image quality is decent, and even though it isn't leagues better than competing devices, it's more contrasty and I think better looking than something like the Logitech C922.
There are drawbacks, mostly minor, like the sheer size of the thing if it's going to be mounted atop your monitor.
The biggest criticism is that there's no companion software, so you have very limited control. Apps like XSplit can adjust brightness and contrast as well as tint, but they can't pan or tilt the camera feed, and they can't enable manual focus. Considering Razer has Synapse for a ton of its hardware, it feels like a misstep not to have something for the Kiyo.
But for streamers, you could do a lot worse and if you're tight on space that ring light will really help out. It's super bright so you don't need it on full all the time, especially if you're quite close to it, but it does a fantastic job. You may look a little saturated if it's too bright, so make sure to adjust things a little in your streaming software.
It's less easy to recommend to a non-streamer, especially at $100, and if that's not your thing probably look elsewhere. But for who it's meant for, it's a solid choice.
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Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine