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Obsbot Tiny 4K review: a well-designed and AI-enhanced webcam

Here's a closeup of the Obsbot Tiny 4K resolution webcam.
Obsbot Tiny 4K Webcam
MSRP $269.00
“The Obsbot Tiny 4K has its intuitive gimbal motions, now with a super-sharp resolution.”
Pros
  • Subject tracking works well
  • AI-driven pan, tilt, and zoom
  • No downloads necessary
  • Noise-canceling microphones
  • Innovative gimbal design
Cons
  • More expensive than a 1080p webcam
  • Few programs capture in 4K

The Obsbot Tiny 4K is an advanced face-tracking webcam with a high-resolution image sensor and gesture controls that set it apart from most other solutions. The Tiny 4K is a well-made device with an original design and special abilities that allow it to maintain the full 4K image quality, even when you take advantage of its pan and tilt capability.

The freedom to move around at your desk or within a room helps to reduce meeting fatigue and adds a more natural feel to your videos. It’s pretty extra for a webcam, of course, but if you need something beyond a basic camera, the Obsbot Tiny 4K will take your video conferencing game to the next level.

Design

The Obsbot Tiny 4K webcam is mounted on a MacBook Air's screen.
Alan Truly / Digital Trends

The Obsbot Tiny 4K has an unusual but attractive vertical design, standing 3.5 inches tall and 2.25 inches wide. This is, in part, due to its two-axis gimbal. The camera is supported by a small arm on the right side that sits atop a tapered, round body. The circular shape is important because the Obsbot Tiny 4K can physically swivel and tilt automatically to track your face and your position in the room.

An interesting and intuitive privacy feature is possible thanks to the gimbal. You can grab and point it downward to switch off the camera, guaranteeing that no one will see what’s happening in your personal space. When the Obsbot Tiny 4K is active a colorful LED on the front shines green while a blue LED indicates that the webcam is trying to recognize a gesture.

The Obsbot Tiny 4K feels substantial in your hand, weighing about 6 ounces. This suggests a sturdy design, yet it still balances easily on a laptop’s screen. A sticky pad is included with the Obsbot Tiny 4K’s mount so it can be attached more securely to the back of your display in case you live in an earthquake region, a space with lots of activity, or if you’re an active gamer that might get enthusiastic with the controls and jostle your monitor on occasion.

The Obsbot Tiny 4K webcam includes everything you need and comes with a carrying case.
Alan Truly / Digital Trends

The device is powered by a USB-C cable and a USB-A adapter is provided as well. A USB-A power cable is also included so it’s compatible with older computers that might not provide enough power from a single USB port to power a webcam. It’s a very thoughtful and complete package that fits neatly into a carrying case that’s convenient if you travel with your laptop.

AI performance

A key feature of Obsbot’s Tiny 4K webcam that makes it somewhat unique is its two-axis gimbal. An artificial intelligence system tracks your face with remarkable skill and precision, adjusting motors to automatically pan and tilt the webcam. Even if you make quick movements or turn your head, the tracking is quick and accurate, identifying your position and keeping your face in view. It’s hard to escape the Obsbot Tiny 4K’s watchful eye unless you wish to do so.

A huge portion of your room can be covered with this versatile webcam.

Tracking can be switched off and on with a simple gesture, placing either hand beside your face with the palm facing the webcam. If you hold up your thumb and forefinger in an L-shape beside your face, the system recognizes this as a command to begin a slow zoom-in. The default is a two-times zoom; however, you can change the gesture-activated zoom level from one to four times, with fractional steps in between. A lower setting might be preferable if you don’t anticipate moving very far from the computer. The default setting of two times provides a close-up of your face while you sit at the computer. The four-times zoom might be nice if you think you could be walking across the room.

Repeating the same L-shaped gesture will zoom out again, but your hand must be visible on-camera for the Obsbot Tiny 4K to see it. An interesting detail is that face-tracking is built into the webcam itself and doesn’t rely on downloading an app. It’s convenient and reliable, even if you’re in front of a complicated background.

The Obsbot Tiny 4K webcam has a pan and tilt gimbal.
Alan Truly / Digital Trends

The gimbal can pan up to 150 degrees. The tilt range is from 45 degrees downward to 45 degrees upward. A huge portion of your room can be covered with this versatile webcam. If you move beyond the 150-degree pan, you can simply grab and physically swivel the Obsbot Tiny 4K on its magnetic base to get back in the frame. That means you can even move behind the webcam and still be in the picture.

All of that works great, but the Obsbot Tiny 4K isn’t the only webcam with this handy feature. Obsbot has a 1080p model, simply called the Obsbot Tiny, and there’s also the new Insta360 Link.

The Obsbot Tiny 4K’s gimbal is a rare example of a moving part that’s incorporated into a webcam, and there is a chance that the motors could begin to wear over the long term. However, as a relatively small and lightweight device that probably won’t be exposed to a harsh environment, the Obsbot Tiny 4K should last for many years without trouble. There’s a greater chance that you’ll want to upgrade to newer technology long before this webcam wears out.

Image Quality

The Obsbot Tiny 4K, as the name implies, offers a 4K webcam resolution that retains sharpness and image fidelity, even when panning and tilting, to track your face as you move around at your desk or even when standing and walking around the room. The high-quality image when using the pan and tilt features is possible thanks to the physical movement of the webcam when tracking your face rather than using a digital effect to simulate camera rotation.

The wide 86-degree field of view captures more of the scene with enough resolution to see fine details in your hair. While 4K resolution at 30 frames-per-second (FPS) is the default, the Obsbot Tiny 4K also supports 1080p, 720p, and 360p video at 60FPS. Something to keep in mind when considering webcam resolution is that most streaming apps only support 1080p or less and also compress the video, reducing quality further.

That means the extra sharpness that a 4K webcam provides is somewhat lost when used during a video call or meeting. On the other hand, that extra resolution does allow the digital zoom feature to be used without losing as much detail as you would see when starting with a 1080p or 720p webcam.

Image quality drops somewhat in low light, with noise becoming more visible the darker the room gets. A similar loss is inevitable with any webcam I’ve ever tested, so it’s still important to find an area with enough light or to add more if needed. Since the Obsbot Tiny 4K has a smaller aperture (f/2.2) than the Inst360 Link (f/1.8), for example, it won’t perform as well in poor lighting. In good lighting, the quality should be quite similar. To be clear, Obsbot’s f/2.2 aperture isn’t bad. For most webcams, that isn’t even a specification that’s given, suggesting the f-number would reveal a disappointingly small aperture for light to enter the lens.

Image brightness, contrast, and color can be adjusted using the Tinycam software that you can download from Obsbot’s website for free, allowing fine-tuning the picture. The Tinycam app works with Windows and Mac computers with versions for Intel and Apple Silicon-based Macs. You can adjust Obsbot’s face-tracking, gimbal controls, and default settings within the app. By default, focus and exposure are optimized for your face but can be set to consider the entire scene.

You can also control the digital zoom with a slider, move the webcam’s pan and tilt gimbals with a virtual joystick, and manually focus with a slider. Up to three preset locations can be saved, providing a shortcut to shifting the webcam down to show something on your desk, for example. It’s a versatile and easy-to-use app.

Audio quality is also nice, featuring two omnidirectional mics with noise reduction. That said, no webcam can compete with the fidelity of a dedicated microphone. If you’re serious enough to buy a 4K webcam, you should consider getting an external mic, and one or more lights to complete the package.

Compatibility

The Obsbot Tiny 4K has built-in compatibility with most devices. The webcam works not only with MacOS and Windows but with most other computers as well. As part of this review, the Obsbot Tiny 4K was tested on a MacBook, Surface Book, Chromebook, and even an Android phone. Obsbot’s Tinycam app is only available for MacOS and Windows, but face tracking and zoom gestures are part of the webcam’s electronics, so you can use gestures to control the advanced features of this webcam from almost any device, without installing apps or drivers.

The high-resolution image sensor makes a big difference when zooming in.

Obsbot’s Tiny 4K works as expected right out of the box, and you can select it from webcam settings in video calls and meetings when using Zoom, Google Meet, FaceTime, Microsoft Teams, and other streaming apps. Screen recording apps, such as the free and open-source OBS Studio, recognize the Obsbot Tiny 4K as a valid device for both video and microphone input, so it can easily be combined with screen recordings for split-screen or picture-in-picture effects if your software supports those features.

The extra sharpness that’s possible with a 4K webcam shows up most noticeably when recording video. Streaming services automatically reduce resolution and compress the video for reliable internet streaming. The high-resolution image sensor makes a big difference when zooming in on your face when using a video streaming service. Since video calls and live streams are compressed, there is little or no quality loss with a two-times digital zoom when you’re streaming with the Obsbot Tiny 4K.

Price and availability

The Obsbot Tiny 4K was originally priced at $269 and has a rare sale offering big savings, but it’s now available from the manufacturer’s website and several online retailers for around $200. That’s a nice saving on a high-quality 4K webcam with advanced face-tracking and gesture recognition. It’s hard to beat that value.

While you can use almost any camera as a webcam, it’s much easier to get a dedicated high-quality webcam that can stay on or near your computer with no setup required. 4K webcams were once rare but that’s beginning to change rapidly. The Logitech Brio 4K Pro makes most top ten lists, along with Dell’s UltraSharp. Among the latest 4K webcams, Insta360’s Link borrowed a page from Obsbot’s book and features similar face tracking action with gimbals to maintain quality. If you like the design of the Obsbot Tiny 4K but don’t need such a high-resolution webcam, there’s a more affordable 1080p version called the Obsbot Tiny as well.

Is the Obsbot Tiny 4K right for you?

The Obsbot Tiny 4K sat at the top of our list of best Mac webcams, but the recently released Insta360 Link presents a strong challenge. With remarkably similar AI tracking gimbal technology and a larger image sensor, Insta360’s Link has better image quality, particularly in low light. It isn’t immediately obvious which would have the best sound quality, durability, or tracking capability. Obsbot has been researching face tracking for many years, so it seems likely that its AI might be more advanced, but we haven’t tested these two webcams head-to-head. The current sale pricing available for the Obsbot Tiny 4K makes it a much better value, saving you nearly $100. This discount is unlikely to disappear given the strong competition from Insta360’s Link webcam.

The Obsbot Tiny 4K is a high-quality webcam that gives you the freedom to move around while in a meeting or video call without disappearing from view. Its gimbal can also be controlled manually and with an option to save gimbal positions to quickly shift the camera down or to the side. Privacy is easy and intuitive with the Obsbot Tiny 4K, rounding out a complete feature set and thoughtful design. We recommend it to anyone that wants to move around while using their webcam.

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