Obsbot Tail Air review: The most premium 4K webcam with AI features on the market

With streaming and remote meetings becoming more popular than ever, it’s no surprise that there has been an influx of new webcams over the past few years. Obsbot has a history of producing high-end webcams, and its previous product, the Obsbot Tiny 2, is easily one of our favorites. This year, the company is back with an even more impressive product, the Obsbot Tail Air.

The Tail Air packs everything we love about the Tiny 2 into a standalone device that can be accessed wirelessly. It adds many new tracking modes and can even detect animals and objects. After using it for a week, I couldn’t find any deal-breaking flaws with the webcam — well, besides the super high $499 price tag. That makes it an expensive investment for those looking for a new webcam. Nevertheless, it’s easily the best webcam for content creators and live streamers who don’t mind paying that premium price.

 

A transparent render of the OBSBOT Tail Air webcam

 

OBSBOT Tail Air

The best webcam for live-streaming

Great quality for a super high price

The Tail Air is Obsbot’s new flagship camera that combines solid video quality and AI-tracking features with a standalone design. The built-in battery and support for microSD cards allow you to use the webcam away from the desk, and its huge selection of ports, NDI support, and wireless connectivity make this the best camera for streamers.

Brand
OBSBOT
Resolution
4K 30FPS/1080P 60FPS
Rotation
Pan: ±160 degrees, Tilt: ±90 degrees
Wide Angle Lens
92 degrees
Connection
Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi, Wired (USB Type-C)
Aperture
ƒ/1.8
Mounting
Tripod-mounting thread included
Sensor size
1/1.8-inch CMOS sensor
Additional features
AI-tracking, NDI support, wireless connectivity
Ports
1x USB Type-C, 1x 3.5 mm AUX, microSD, 1x micro HDMI

Pros

  • Can be used as a standalone camera
  • Supports NDI HX3 streaming format
  • AI-tracking features are better than ever
  • Image and video quality are amazing

Cons

  • Very expensive, especially if you plan to use a multi-webcam setup
  • Lack of an official monitor mount makes it difficult to fix it to a monitor or laptop

Pricing and availability

The Obsbot Tail Air was launched as a Kickstarter project earlier in September and was officially released on Nov. 21, 2023, after successfully raising more than $1 million. Currently, it can only be purchased directly from Obsbot’s website for $499, though we expect more retailers to stock up over the coming weeks. If you want to enable NDI, you’ll need to purchase a license key for an additional $99. Finally, Obsbot offers discounts on certain webcam bundles, with the most expensive Multicam Combo being priced at $2,215.

Design

A sleek exterior with plenty of portsThe OBSBOT Tail Air 2 mounted on a tripod

Obsbot went all-out when designing its most expensive webcam. With a metal body and a matte finish, the Tail Air feels more premium and sturdy than most webcams out there. At 12 ounces, it’s pretty lightweight, and the upper half that houses the sensor can be folded away for travel in your backpack or its official case.

While the Obsbot Tail Air has a minimalist exterior, it houses a decent supply of ports. It has an SD card slot, a micro-HDMI port, a 3.5mm audio connector, and a USB Type-C port that, depending on your requirements, can be used to charge or connect the webcam to your router and/or PC. On the bottom of the camera, you’ll find the magnetic interface for an official 360-degree charging dock alongside a 1/4-inch 20-screw thread that’s compatible with most tripods. There’s a power button above the USB Type-C connectors. Finally, the camera has some small lights that display the battery percentage, and an LED bar that can change colors to indicate errors or changes in the camera modes.

Just like its predecessors, the Obsbot Tail Air ships with a hard carrying case that’s sturdy enough to protect the camera on your travels. It also includes a couple of accessories, including a USB Type-C to Dual USB-C splitter, a USB Type-C cable, and a USB Type-C to Type-A adapter. I also received a remote and a USB Type-C (male) to Ethernet and Type-C (female) adapter that’s useful for NDI setups.

One of my favorite features of the Obsbot Tail Air is that it can be used wirelessly. Besides reducing the wire clutter on my table, the lack of cables makes it easy to reposition the webcam.

Image and video quality

The 1/1.8-inch CMOS sensor makes all the difference

Since the Obsbot Tail Air is powered by a large 1/1.8′-inch CMOS sensor with an ƒ/1.8 aperture, the video quality is miles ahead of what you’d find on a typical webcam. Over the past week, I’ve used the camera for most of my meetings and video calls, and I’ve been amazed by its performance.

Aside from HDR support, the camera has 4x digital zoom, and the image quality doesn’t deteriorate when you fully zoom in… at least under normal lighting. While the camera works well under low-light conditions, zooming in my face made the image noise quite noticeable in a dark room.

Since the Tail Air houses a built-in battery and supports microSD cards, I decided to take it away from my PC. The battery on the device lasted for a little more than 90 minutes outside, which is in line with Obsbot’s claims. I used it to capture some panoramic sights, and with the quality, you’d think it was built to be used away from the desk.

The webcam can capture high-resolution 4K video, though the frame rate is limited to 30FPS. For a smoother 60FPS video, you’ll have to turn down the resolution to 1080p. It also includes two built-in microphones with noise-reduction capabilities.

I’ve used the camera for most of my meetings and video calls, and I’ve been amazed by its performance.

The two-axis gimbal on the Tail Air supports a 160-degree pan and a 90-degree tilt. Sadly, you can’t access 360-degree horizontal rotation without purchasing an additional dock that costs a whopping $399. But if image quality was all that mattered, you could go for a slightly cheaper webcam. It’s actually the AI features that make the Tail Air stand out from the rest of its competitors.

Tracking and AI features

AI tracking, Director Grids, and gesture controls work really well

Obsbot has a solid track record with AI integrations, and the same holds true for the Tail Air. The new webcam packs the solid AI-powered tracking capabilities of the Tiny 2 with a host of further quality-of-life improvements. The AI features may sound gimmicky, but they’re pretty useful and worth the premium price.

Starting with auto-tracking, the Tail Air uses its gimbal to follow you if you go out of frame. The AI tracking works well for the most part, but the camera got confused when I stood near a large obstruction or when too many moving subjects (both humans and animals) appeared in the frame. Luckily, using the gestures and manually tilting the webcam to focus on me got rid of any tracking issues. I’d also like to point out that the tracking works under low-light conditions, and unless you stay in a dark room with absolutely no light, the webcam won’t have any trouble honing onto your position.

The AI features may sound gimmicky, but they’re pretty useful and worth the premium price.

Obsbot also added new object and animal tracking modes, and while I’ve only used the former, it’s a pretty neat feature if you want to track a slow-moving object.

A screenshot of the AI Director Grid feature in the OBSBOT mobile app

However, the AI Director Grid is hands-down one of the Tail Air’s best features. It leverages its powerful chip to split the video output of the webcam into multiple camera angles in real time. Depending on how far you are from the webcam, it can create more than five different camera angles, and you can cycle between them by tapping on the grids in the mobile app.

Finally, the webcam lets you use gestures to control most of its functions. For example, making an OK sign initiates or stops a recording while holding your palm up enables AI tracking. The gesture recognition is usually spot-on, though the sensor can get baffled if two or more human subjects in frame make the same gesture.

Software

The mobile app is pretty capable, and the one on PC is even betterA screenshot of the OBSBOT Tail Air mobile app

The Tail Air has two sets of apps: one for smartphones and the other for PCs. The particular models I received needed a firmware update before using them with a PC, so I’ve used both sets of apps.

Setting up the Obsbot Start app was a straightforward process, and within minutes, I paired the Tail Air with my smartphone. For some weird reason, the app requires you to enable location services before connecting to the webcam. Otherwise, the mobile app works as a hub where you can fine-tune the webcam’s video settings to your liking. This includes everything from the exposure settings to the saturation values to recording modes and even the type of gestures you want to enable. The mobile app also includes the AI Director Grids feature I mentioned earlier. Finally, you can also perform the firmware upgrade and NDI activation via Obsbot Start.

Once you’re done upgrading the firmware, you can use the Tail Air with your PC, and that’s when the world of streaming opens up. With the Obsbot PC app, you can not only access the image settings available in the mobile application, but you can also modify the tracking speed, modes, and gimbal settings. Additionally, the software lets you blur your background, add filters, and even change your appearance via the Beauty tab.

The Tail Air’s compatibility with the NDI HX3 format makes it a godsend for streamers with multi-camera setups.

While most of these features were already available on older Obsbot webcams, the Tail Air is compatible with the game-changing NDI protocol. Simply put, NDI, or Network Device Interface, lets you stream high-resolution videos from multiple cameras (in this case, up to three Tail Air webcams) over the Ethernet with minimal latency.

Setting up NDI streaming seemed like a jigsaw puzzle until I realized I had to use the USB Type-C to Ethernet and Type-C (power) adapter for this purpose. Once you enable NDI with a (paid) activation code, the webcam will be ready to stream content through the NDI HX3 format. The only drawback here is the fact that your desk will become pretty unorganized with all the wires hanging around, especially if you use all three Tail Air cameras. Otherwise, the Tail Air’s compatibility with the NDI HX3 format makes it a godsend for streamers with multi-camera setups.

Should you buy the Obsbot Tail Air?

An image of three OBSBOT Tail Air webcams in an NDI setup

You should buy the Obsbot Tail Air if:

  • You want a webcam with high-quality video capturing and exceptional tracking capabilities
  • You’re willing to spend a fortune on an NDI-supported webcam
  • You’re searching for a standalone webcam with the best live-streaming capabilities

You shouldn’t buy the Obsbot Tail Air if:

  • You want a budget webcam to upgrade your laptop’s front camera
  • You just want a headache-free plug-and-play experience from your webcam

Clearly, there’s a lot to love about the AI-powered Obsbot Tail Air webcam. It has a fantastic sensor, automatic pan and tilt facility, gesture and voice recognition, and wireless support, and that’s just scratching the surface.

That said, its $499 price makes it hard to recommend to the average consumer. Sure, you’ll get more than your money’s worth with the camera, but most users don’t need its advanced features and would be better off picking a cheaper alternative like the Dell Pro Webcam. But if you’re a professional content creator and need a powerful webcam for your video-capturing needs, the Obsbot Tail Air is hands-down the best option on the market.

A transparent render of the OBSBOT Tail Air webcam

 

OBSBOT Tail Air

The best webcam for live-streaming

The Tail Air is Obsbot’s new flagship camera that combines solid video quality and AI-tracking features with a standalone design. The built-in battery and support for microSD cards allow you to use the webcam away from the desk, and its huge selection of ports, NDI support, and wireless connectivity make this the best camera for streamers.