If you’re stuck working from home, chances are you’ve stumbled across at least a few examples of bad lighting when dialling in to important conference calls. Whether it’s the lack of natural light, or you’re backlit sat in front of a window, you might be thinking about upgrading from your grainy laptop webcam in an effort to boost your visuals.
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With support for HDR streaming and a bevy of visual customisation options, the new Razer Kiyo Pro could be just the ticket if your lighting conditions aren’t up to scratch. However, with a sky-high price and a 1080p resolution limit, is the Razer Kiyo Pro worth the added cost, or should you save your money and buy a budget webcam instead?
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Razer Kiyo Pro review: What do you get for the money?
Perhaps best known for its flashy gaming peripherals and luxurious laptops, it’s no surprise that Razer absolutely nails the Kiyo Pro’s ergonomics and overall design. The large, circular camera is an imposing sight, painted in solid black. A subtle Razer logo is placed underneath the lens and this is protected by a layer of scratch and scuff-resistant Gorilla Glass 3.
The webcam itself is hardly discreet, measuring 70mm in diameter and 45mm thick. It weighs a hefty 245g, too, so it isn’t best suited for being placed on a laptop screen, and the supplied 1.5m USB-A to USB-C braided cable isn’t especially long either. Still, the camera does come with a detachable privacy cover, which is nice.
A single tripod screw mount on the base of the Razer Kiyo Pro allows it to be attached to the included Z-shaped mount. Flexible enough to accommodate a monitor or screen up to 60mm in thickness, the mount also allows you to adjust the camera through 90-degrees vertically and also offers some side to side swivel. Since the mount can fold inwards, the camera can also be placed on a desk or table, and you still get a reasonable degree of adjustability.
Razer Kiyo Pro review: What is video and audio like?
Of course, there’s absolutely no point in buying a webcam solely for its dashing looks. Thankfully, we’re already off to a strong start in the quality stakes, since the Razer Kiyo Pro is more than up to the task in terms of technical specifications.
The Razer Kiyo Pro uses a Sony IMX327 CMOS sensor, something that, according to Razer, is currently only found in high-end surveillance cameras. The sensor uses Sony’s back-illuminated pixel tech – amusingly named “Starvis! – which supposedly helps boost image clarity in low-light environments.
The webcam has an aperture of f/2.0, a pixel size of 2.9μm and a wide 103-degree field of view, which can also be cropped to either 90- or 80-degrees in the camera’s settings. The Kiyo Pro can record and stream 1080p video at either 30fps (HDR) or 60fps (SDR) and can capture 1.2MP images. All of this might look impressive but it isn’t the sharpest webcam around. The £200 Logitech Brio Stream and the Brio Ultra HD Pro Business Webcam can record in 4K and offer HDR capture as well.
As for the actual quality of the footage, the Kiyo Pro pretty much lives up to Razer’s claims. The webcam works well in all-manner of lighting conditions, with HDR boosting darker parts of the image, such as my poorly lit face, without blowing out highlights like my LED lights in the background. There wasn’t much visual noise in my tests, either, and captured footage looked more richly detailed than my current webcam, the £130 Logitech C920 HD Pro.
The webcam’s autofocus can take a few seconds to adjust, however, and I noticed that the HDR setting applied an unnaturally warm tint to my skin tone in low light. It’s also worth noting that, since Windows restricts the camera to just one app at a time, you can’t adjust the camera’s settings via Razer’s Synapse software mid-conference call.
When it comes to audio, the Razer Kiyo Pro uses an omni-directional stereo microphone, which does the job well enough. It picked up my voice clearly while I was sat next to an open window close to a noisy building site and was sensitive enough that it even recorded the quiet yawns of my fiancée at the other end of the room.
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Razer Kiyo Pro review: Software
The Kiyo Pro’s settings are accessed via Razer’s all-encompassing Synapse software. From the Kiyo Pro menu, you can toggle HDR on and off, crop the view to either 103°, 90° or 80°, switch between auto and manual focus – there’s a handy focus slider to change the focus point – and alter a bunch of visual settings such as brightness, contrast, saturation and white balance. Clicking “Advanced settings” simply opens up Windows’ camera properties menu.
I had some problems with the camera. At the time of writing this review, I wasn’t able to adjust the webcam’s resolution or frame rate, which isn’t ideal if you’re planning on streaming at anything other than 1080p resolution. The Synapse app also failed to detect that the camera was plugged in a few times, something I was only able to fix by rebooting my PC.
As for supported apps, the Kiyo Pro can be used by any Windows-compatible video recording software, as well as third-party teleconferencing platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Skype. The two most widely used game streaming apps – Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) and XSplit – are also supported.
Razer Kiyo Pro review: Are there any good alternatives?
As you might have guessed, the Razer Kiyo Pro is hardly an impulse purchase and the price isn’t the amount you’d be willing to spend on a whim, either. Costing a lofty £200 at launch, the Kiyo Pro is pricier than all of the cameras featured in our best webcams article, bar one.
The Logitech Brio Stream is also on that list, which costs the same and has a maximum resolution of 4K, with HDR streaming at 1080p. There’s also the Logitech StreamCam (£200), although this doesn’t support HDR.
Razer Kiyo Pro review: Verdict
If you’ve got the money, and you’d like to give your Twitch streams a shot in the arm between conference calls, then the Razer Kiyo Pro is a worthy upgrade.
Buy Razer Kiyo Pro
It isn’t quite flawless but with top-notch video quality, a thoughtful design and a handful of granular settings in the companion software, the Razer Kiyo Pro is an excellent choice.