Streaming on Twitch and YouTube has become a big business in recent years. Unfortunately, getting starting can expensive as quality production values can make the difference between a channel’s success or failure.
However, Razer is seeking to make things a bit easier with its new Kiyo webcam which is billed as “the perfect camera for professional streaming.” While we won’t go that far, the Razer Kiyo is an excellent webcam that can make any stream look better.
Razer Kiyo Review – The Design
It’s easy to dismiss the design of the Razer Kiyo as all webcams follow the same basic design of basically being a large ring, but, as with all of Razer’s products, the Kiyo drips with craftsmanship.
When the device is closed, it consists of a series of three discs laid on top of one another: the light ring, the camera, and two hinges which allow it to easily snap to the back of a desktop monitor or laptop. As with anything that features multiple hinges, there’s always the risk of something breaking, but the Kiyo looks to be a sturdy piece of hardware.
In the very center of the top disc is the webcam itself which is surrounded by the large LED ring light and an adjustable dial. The bright white ring is very large and impossible to miss, but it is one of the key features of the Kiyo. Offering built-in lighting, Razer promises that streamers won’t need to bother with setting up multiple lights in order to get high-quality video.
The bottom disc consists of a stand and support for tripods in case you’d rather not clamp the device onto your computer. The stand itself appears to be sturdy and tripod support is always a nice option as there have been some webcams that don’t offer it.
Overall, the Kiyo offers the same stellar design and build-quality we’ve come to expect from Razer, but there are a few issues that need to be addressed. First of all, the USB cord is a bit short measuring in at little under five feet. It’s also not detachable so this could be a problem for some people.
Razer’s branding is also rather prominently displayed on the webcam itself through the company’s snake logo is hidden on the back of the camera.
Razer Kiyo Review – The Performance
Of course, as good as the design is, none of that matters if the camera itself offers poor image quality. Fortunately, that is not the case. The 4-megapixel, 2688 x 1520 camera takes high-quality photos offering high details and bright colors.
The key word in that last sentence was “bright” as this camera performs very well in well-lit conditions. Unfortunately, even with the ring light turned on, images don’t look quite as good in low-light, but the image’s main focus is still sharp and clear. Items and people in the background are harder to make out, but this is still an impressive achievement considering the camera can be used without any external lighting aside from the light ring.
Considering that this is a webcam meant for streaming, you won’t be buying this camera to simply take photos and, even in low-light, the ring light provides adequate light for streaming purposes. This is helped by the fact that most streams simply include the streamer’s face in a small box near the corner of the screen. In these circumstances, the streamer’s face is what matters and the Kiyo captures that rather well.
The Kiyo is capable of streaming in 1080p at 30FPS and 720P at 60FPS. Lower resolutions are also supported at 30FPS, but we imagine most streamers will go with the HD options when applicable. In terms of lighting, the video quality appears to be just as good as the still images.
If there’s one chink in the Kiyo’s impressive armor, it is in the sound quality. The microphone is a bit too quiet, but, then again, most streamers will be using gaming headphones or separate microphone which is what Razer’s Seiren X is for.
Now that we’ve finished with the hardware, let’s take a moment to discuss the Razer Kiyo software. In terms of streaming software, the Razer Kiyo software is compatible with all the major pieces of streaming software so users will have plenty of options.
Most of Razer’s peripherals come with Synapse which allows users to control settings. Both the Kiyo and Serien X do not as Razer intended for them to be plug-and-play devices. This certainly makes the device easier to use, but it also means the camera is missing some nice quality of life features such as a way to adjust the ring light’s settings without manually turning the dial.
In the end, we think the extra functionally from Synapse would have outweighed the costs as the people who Razer is marketing these devices too are likely computer-literate enough to navigate Synapse.
Should you buy the Kiyo? The quick answer is yes. It’s a solid easy to use the webcam for the relatively low price of $99. The ring light can, for the most part, dispense with the need to invest heavily in lighting. Not to mention, the Razer Kiyo software is good too.
The longer answer is a bit more complicated. The Kiyo is not a perfect webcam. The USB cord may be too short for some users and Razer’s prominent branding may turn off some. The ring light is very nice, but adequate lighting will always make your videos look better and there are several quality alternatives in the same price range.
These issues aside, the Kiyo is a quality webcam that will make a good starting camera for new streamers so it’s well worth a look.