Hands-on review: Zumy webcam laptop light
Image credit: Zumy
Get ready for your conference call close-ups with this foldable USB light source.
While the Covid-driven days of full-time WFH are largely behind most of us, the hybrid nature of work now still means a lot of video calls and meetings from home.
For many of us, this means finding a suitable home office space in which to participate in these virtual gatherings, a place in our homes where the crucial crossovers of comfort, good Wi-Fi and flattering lighting best align.
If you can tick the first two, but sometimes struggle with the third, the Zumy webcam laptop light could be just what you need. While there are (plenty of) other fill-light options out there, the Zumy has a few neat tricks up its foldable sleeve that may sweeten its appeal.
Initiated as an Indiegogo campaign in December 2020 – perhaps understandably, during the peak period for pandemic lockdowns – Zumy started shipping in the US earlier this year. It's now more readily available to UK buyers.
Essentially, Zumy is an additional light source that can clip onto any USB-A or C-equipped laptop or desktop computer monitor, using the adapter included where necessary. It is designed to throw a bright yet soft, warm and even light onto your face that flatters skin tones, removing strong shadows and toning down exaggerated areas of contrast.
With a stated maximum illumination of 500 lux, and four adjustable lighting levels (100-400 lux), it's easy to find an optimal degree of additional light to suit your space and the time of day. Zumy's stated colour temperature is 3,500K. It's not like a Gestapo interrogation lamp searing into your eyeballs. It's a pleasantly illuminating experience, both for yourself and for everyone else on the video call.
Neither a big thing (1.5in L x 6in W x 8.5in H), nor a heavy thing (220g), Zumy features a collapsible, accordion-type design, making it easy to fold away after each use, as well as more convenient to store and carry. Zumy's design exploits the space created by the expanding envelope of the body to separate the light source from the diffusion layer, thus producing that softer illumination that is the desired effect.
The light head also pivots on a socket housed in the body of the clip (which, incidentally, has protective foam padding inside the clamps, so there's no need to fear unsightly damage to your top-of-the-line £3,000 MacBook Pro), so this can be angled up or down (slightly; nothing dramatic) to suit your sitting or standing position in front of your device's camera.
There's also an extra port on the cable so you can attach a second USB-powered device while using the Zumy. That's a nice touch: when you're short on ports, every little helps.
Obviously, this light is useful in any video conferencing situation: not just work Zoom calls. Clipping it to a laptop screen or slotting it onto the bundled sticky pad attachment 'Desktop Monitor Mount', anything you need to do on video will now look better. You can also clip it to any solid object near your computer, as long as the USB cable reaches.
As we said above, it's hardly a theatre arc light, so it's not going to illuminate the entire room at distance, but for the natural position, sitting at typing distance or a little further back from your machine, Zumy will light you up nicely.
Being powered by USB, there are other possible creative uses for Zumy. It won't run directly from a smartphone – as it requires power over USB – but it can be plugged into a USB wall socket and positioned as appropriate. You could even use it as a collapsible lamp. Some other devices with USB sockets have also been known to unexpectedly (or at least, undocumentedly) supply surprise power to Zumy: that's more of a suck-it-and-see scenario. You may get lucky.
Zumy's primary objective, however, is to illuminate your headshot via a laptop or desktop computer. In this regard, it works perfectly. The light it casts is indeed pleasant and flattering, as intended, and its portable nature lends itself well to taking it everywhere your laptop goes (a protective bag is in the box).
Using Zumy is not a night and day, dark/light, difference. That would hardly be the point. That, in fact, is the problem with some other similar lighting products: too much light! Or at least, too obvious a light. Ideally what you want – and this is what Zumy provides – is a subtle, hopefully natural, brightening all round in the appearance of your visage on screen for others to see.
It's also not terribly expensive, for such a useful tool that will solve any niggling lighting issues you've been suffering with over the last two years. Let's face it, video calls are here to stay. We may as well all look our best for them.
Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.