HomeReviewA webcam that always looks directly at you: OBSBOT Tiny

A webcam that always looks directly at you: OBSBOT Tiny

I see you!

My streaming setup consists of 2 Logitech C920 webcams and a Panasonic Lumix camera which usually points at something more important than my face. I never pretended to be great at multitasking (in fact I’m bad at it), so I usually point the webcams where my face supposes to be, while I focus on (pun not intended) the HDMI feed from the main camera. Despite owning several gimbaled cameras(Fimi Palm, Feiyou Pocket 2) none of them has a way of sharing their feed with a computer. OBSBOT Tiny (AmazonUK, AmazonUS, OBSBOT Store) is the answer to a question that only a few of you ever asked. What if I mate a webcam and a motorised gimbal?

What’s OBSBOT Tiny?

OBSBOT Tiny
I’m looking at you – OBSBOT Tiny

OBSBOT Tiny has one goal. To keep the frame of the camera centred on your face. It uses 2 axis gimbal to follow your face and keep the camera pointed in the right direction. It’s not a new concept for gimbaled cameras, but definitely a new feature among webcams.

In the past, similar features were offered by non-gimballed webcams which would use a wide-angle lens and reframe the picture (by zooming and therefore losing the resolution) to keep your mug central to the shot. OBSBOT Tiny uses small motors to move the camera and keep your face central without sacrificing the resolution in the process.

Hardware

Inside the box, you will find the webcam, a charging cable and a magnetic monitor mount. OBSBOT Tiny can stand on its own, (if you don’t mind people looking up your nostrils), be mounted on a tripod thanks to an integrated 1/4″ screw and placed on the foldable table-alike stand which you can erect on a laptop or desktop monitor to support the webcam. Each one of the options works well.

I’m a little confused about the I/O of the webcam. USB-C is perfectly understandable, but it’s paired with a 5V DC jack port. Looks like they try to account for all these USB ports not having enough power to operate the motors? OBSBOT Tiny worked well on my laptop and desktop computer without the external power supply. I was also able to use it by powering it directly via mobile phone.

Magnetic mount and 1/4" screw of the OBSBOT Tiny
Magnetic mount and 1/4″ screw of the OBSBOT Tiny

Gimbal can pan ±150° and tilt: ±45° which will cover everything in front of the camera. Your lovely face is captured at 1080p30fps and followed around thanks to built-in face detection and 2 axis movement. The webcam is nicely designed and gives the impression that it could withstand office rage.

Software

OBSBOT Tiny Cam Windows software

Like other webcams, OBSBOT Tiny is a plug & play USB device. No drivers needed to get it up and running. The webcam works well with all usual video calling programs. Thanks to face tracking being resolved by the webcam itself, you never have to worry about 3rd party software.

The webcam is compatible with a hardware remote which can be used to toggle the options and replace gestures, but as my unit came on its own, I can’t confirm how well this work. What I have access to is the additional OBSBOT Tiny software (tested on Windows 11).

The software lets you set the parameters like tracking, zooming and panning the camera around. An option that I appreciate is the ability to bookmark selected positions and point the camera at a specific location with a single click. Unfortunately, for now, position presets can be triggered from OBSBOT Tiny software.

Audio/Video

At $199, I would expect 1080p60fps however this is not the case. It’s hard to hide my disappointment, but OBSBOT Tiny has a couple of strong points worth discussing. You are limited to 1080p30fps max, but the actual sensor is pretty decent. In fact, it beats all the webcams I have at my disposal.

It handles itself pretty well in terrible lighting conditions and shines when there is plenty of light to illuminate your face. It’s a webcam so 1080p is enough for pretty much anything webcam related.

Audio

The device excels at audio. It gives my microphones run for the money. With active noise cancellation and a pretty well-placed microphone, the sound recorded by OBSBOT Tiny is amazing. I had a call with Peter Scargill who also has one, and I was impressed how well the OBSBOT Tiny handled his echoey room. Switching over to OBSBOT Tiny removed all that echoing and made the voice sound great. You won’t need another microphone that’s for sure!

Even at a distance (2m) the impressive audio experience persists.

Gestures & feedback

Always in the centre of the frame - OBSBOT Tiny
Always in the centre of the frame – OBSBOT Tiny

What I really like about it, are the gestures and LED lights that are used to let you know what’s happening with the camera. OBSBOT Tiny supports 2 gestures:

  • Zoom In/Out
  • Face Tracking On/Off

These free you from the usual webcamming position and let you venture around the room, knowing that the camera is pointing at the right location at the right zoom level. Thanks to the feedback from LEDs, you get instant information of your gesture worked or when the camera loses the track of your face. It works better where there is no clutter behind you, and in my busy NotEnoughTech HQ gestures sometimes were hit or miss. The situation changed, once I took the webcam to work and gesture recognition benefited greatly from plain white backgrounds behind me.

As the gestures require proximity of your hand to your face and act as toggles (the same gestures enable and disable the respective features). The webcam will let you know with a blue LED when the gesture is recognised. Keeping the gesture visible until the 3-LED bar fills in enables/disables triggered mode. This feedback is very valuable especially if you are just getting started with it.

Tracking is very good. OBSBOT Tiny can travel up to 120 degrees per second and it’s pretty good at following your face. You have to try hard to make it lose the track of your face. As previously mentioned OBSBOT Tiny software lets you control the zoom level of the gesture and the headroom for face tracking.

Content creators or home workers?

OBSBOT Tiny carries OBS in its name. An open-source broadcasting suite favoured by a lot of people (myself included). This made me think about who would benefit most from using this camera as their daily device.

OBSBOT Tiny vs Logitech C920 vs Papalook webcam
OBSBOT Tiny vs Logitech C920 vs Papalook webcam

Content creators

With great motion tracking and pretty good picture, OSBBOT Tiny is an interesting camera, but something tells me that creators will be put off by the lack of 60FPS. If your live stream and uploads don’t require that, I think my video proves that a camera is an interesting option for anyone who would like to take their live streaming a bit further.

I can attest to the usefulness of this, as I have to manage every camera myself, so having the benefit of not worrying about where the webcam is pointing throughout the stream is a big help.

Homeworkers

Considering the price of a decent 1080p webcam and a reasonable microphone that doesn’t make you look dorky OBSBOT Tiny isn’t asking for that much more money. While anyone working from home can get away with a cheap webcam for company meetings, customer-facing staff would score extra points for having a professional setup (possibly sponsored by their employer).

There is one more use case that comes to my mind. I loaned the webcam to my work so they could try it in the conference setting. Gestures were a little bit gimmicky, but the ability to link a remote controller and trigger preset positions opened up pretty interesting options.

Final thoughts

Creators like me will be disappointed with the lack of the 1080p60 mode, while home workers may struggle to justify the price tag of $199 (*at the time of the writing there is a sale on OBSBOT Store – $169). A 3rd customer could be interested in this: companies with conference rooms (mine included). It offers an interesting alternative to the usual panoramic solutions that cost 3 times as much. As for creators? Perhaps OBSBOT Tail is better suited for that task (if you can get over the price). I’m for one would be very tempted to add OBSBOT Tiny (AmazonUK, AmazonUS, OBSBOT Store) to my streaming setup, and see if I can make follow up reviews of the other products. Got questions? Let me know in this Reddit thread.

🆓📈 – See the transparency note for details.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Video
Audio
Face tracking
Gesture recognition

Disclaimer

This product has been sponsored, but I reserve the rights to a honest and unbiased opinion about the product.

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