Elgato Key Light Neo Review – An Unbeatable Entry-Level Desktop Mic

Light on.

The Elgato Neo series has to be one of my favourite initiatives from the company in a while. After making huge waves (pun intended) in the markets for streaming gear in a bunch of categories, it almost felt like there was not enough room for improvement for Elgato to keep refreshing existing lines, so this side-step to a broader home office/content creation segment with a focus on affordable and environmentally-conscious products is a winning move.

In the spirit of recycling, you’ll read that same opening paragraph in my reviews of the company’s Stream Deck Neo, Wave Neo and Game Capture Neo, all of which share the same ethos of simple, clean-looking products that are made and packaged responsibly and put the emphasis on ease of setup and use while still packing great features. The Key Light Neo is no different, and if anything is the best lighting solution I’ve come across to date when you consider what it’s doing for under $150.

Similarly to the other Neo products, the initial unboxing and setup experience of the Key Light Neo is fantastic. The 100% recycled and dye-conservative packaging is thoughtfully-made and nicely laid out to ensure it’s all a breeze right out of the box and really sells the whole vibe of the Neo range. In the box you get the light itself, the monitor stand, a cable tidy bracket that clips into the back, USB-C to USB-A cable and a cable extender in case you need it. It’s a good appointment of bits, and means you’ll be set to go right away whether you’re planning on plugging the Key Light Neo into your device’s USB port or wirelessly. The latter option means even those who might only have USB-C available still have an alternative if a separate cable isn’t handy.

Setup is, again, super simple. The light panel screens onto the monitor stand, which then folds into position to stay stable on the top of your monitor and even has a residue-free adhesive portion to give it some extra security. You can also attach it to most arms and brackets if the monitor route doesn’t suit. When it comes to connecting it up, USB is a simple option that’ll get you going without any extra work, but you do become limited to 40% brightness whereas taking the time to link it onto your WiFi network means you can plug the USB cable into a suitable outlet and get full power. In my experience, 40% brightness is still going to be more than enough for most uses but it’s worth keeping in mind.

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Whichever way you go, you can easily tweak the warmth and brightness of the light using Elgato’s Link software, or the physical controls around the front of the Key Light Neo. In each corner you’ll find a power button, a dial for changing brightness and two preset buttons to quickly switch it to a cool or warm light. I do wish the software, which allows for a more granular control of the warmth of the light, also allowed you to save a preset to either of those two shortcut buttons though. As it stands, using either of them gives you 100% cool or 100% warm at 100% brightness which can be jarring.

As far as the actual light, arguably the most important part, goes, the Key Light Neo does a surprisingly good job for such a meager gadget. Using the same edge-lit design as Elgato’s other key lights, it shines onto a backplate and then passes out through a diffusion lens, which creates a really nicely uniform and soft light that looks great and doesn’t cause any kind of discomfort or eye strain for the person actually sitting in front of it. You definitely don’t need to crank it up to the 1000 lumens it’s capable of when plugged into a power source – I’ve had it just a fraction of the way up and it’s been perfect. 

Crucially, the Key Light Neo is small enough that I could easily see someone using this on the road with their laptop for web calls or on-the-go content creation, and because you can use it over WiFi with the Elgato app it’s versatile enough for just about any situation.

Conclusion
If you need a simple, portable and versatile key light that can support content creation at all levels and also do great work on the go, the Elgato Key Light Neo is incredibly easy to recommend. It might not have the full feature set and customisability of a bigger and more expensive light but it's great value for money and works in nearly any situation.
Positives
Compact and clean-looking
Easy to mount and position
Versatile connectivity and controls
Environmentally-conscious build and packaging
Negatives
Can't save presets to the physical buttons