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The Pivo Max is an incredibly versatile device perfect for any independent content creators looking to enhance their content. Powered by AI, this camera panning gadget isn’t something to be slept on.

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Pivo Max Performance Auto Tracking Phone Holder, Horse... Pivo Max Performance Auto Tracking Phone Holder, Horse... No ratings yet £269.99Amazon Prime

Payload Capacity

When I was first introduced to the Pivo Max, the feature that caught my eye first was actually it’s impressive payload capacity. Being able to support 2kgs of camera equipment is genuinely impressive. My old Canon 750D with a 50mm lens weighs roughly 715gs, less than half the capacity, which should emphasise how much room users have to play with this. One of those big iPad Pros weighs 684gs, to put 2kgs into perspective. Exceeding the weight limit could lead to some jitter, but I would imagine you would have to try pretty hard to reach the 2kg limit.

After testing the Max with my camera and phone attached, I was pretty impressed with it’s acceleration control from the extra inertia and weight. It didn’t seem to struggle or overshoot any more so than when it’s holding just a phone. Pivo don’t recommend using a camera lens over 85mm, which I would imagine is either to do with weight or tracking accuracy. I used a 50mm lens with a 1.65x crop factor, and it worked fine, though I would recommend using a wider lens as it would be quite easy to wander out of frame for a moment before the Max catches up.

To safely secure the Max to a tripod, users can attach it via the ¼” UNC thread connector on the base. This is the same thread size you can use to attach your camera at the top of the Pivo Max after unscrewing the universal phone mount. There is also a grippy rubber pad on the top and bottom of the Max to help keep your devices secured when the device is in motion, too.

My 3 favourite uses of the Pivo Max – in no particular order:

3D scanning

Being able to 3D scan items with the Pivo Max is truly thinking outside the box, and it’s not a use I would have originally thought of. By utilising the stable, repeatable movement of the Max itself, users can use the Pivo Play app to scan whatever trinkets and do-dads their heart desires. The Pivo Play app exports a video or gif of your model, which can be looped or interacted with depending on your intended use. There’s a bunch of speed/frame settings, too, so you can fine-tune the clarity and smoothness of your video. This is amazing for creating interactive images for online sales, or enhancing your 3D modelling potential (with the help of some third-party software).

To use this feature, though, Pivo recommends to purchase their 3D scanning bundle, but you can create your own lightbox and 3D print your own platform if that’s more your style.

360 room scanning

In a completely opposite use to the 3D scanning platform, you’re also able (upon purchasing the app) to create 360 panorama shots AND house tours with the Pivo Tour app. You’re still able to take panoramic photos with the Pivo Play app, but the Pivo Tour app lets users create virtual tours throughout the landscape.

It’s not really a hobbyist app per se, but it’s still an incredible feature and use of the Max.

AI tracking

Obviously, I have to include the easiest, most impressive (and also the scariest) feature of the Pivo Max. I say ‘scary’ because it’s a little disconcerting the first time you turn it on, and it whips around to track your face. Once you get used to it, the AI tracking is so effective and useful; you can set and forget and know you’ll always be in the shot. Well, it does seem to get distracted sometimes and will track other creatures or beings that cross it’s path, but there are some settings you can use to limit tracking-based confusion.

Pivo+ App

Within the Pivo+ app, you can find four different modes, photo, video, meeting, and webcam. Each feature uses the same AI tracking settings but has a couple of other options. The tracking features only work within the Pivo apps, so you are required to install them to get the most out of the Max. Additionally, you’re also required to create an account or login with Google to access the Pivo+ app.

With the photo mode, you can either use the 3s timer or the Bluetooth remote to control the app. With autozoom turned off, you’re able to control the zoom via the remote and take pictures, but not much else. There seems to be a bunch of buttons labelled in the manual, but I couldn’t manage to get any of them to work, sadly.

The video mode is clearly what the app has been designed around, it’s as simple as the photo mode, with the same controls and use of the Bluetooth remote.

Using the meeting mode allows external users to join and control the camera remotely via a remote link on either Chrome or Safari. If selected within the Pivo app, the guest can opt-in to control the pan and zoom of the camera and is able to record the meeting for up to 20 minutes.

The webcam mode allows you to stream from the Pivo+ app to your PC using a third-party program called the NDI Core Suite so you can use your phone as a webcam. I had to Google this to find it out, it’s not in the manual or app, unfortunately.

No matter the mode you choose, you still have access to six different speed and acceleration settings: slower, slow, normal, fast, frenzy, and turbo (beta). Users also have the option to use autozoom, predictive follow, and target exposure settings. This gives a wide variety of customisability, and you are able to create preset settings of these options above. However, to change the recording resolution, you have to go back to the apps main menu settings and find the options there.

Also within these four capture modes are four tracking modes: face, body, horse, or dog. It’s certainly an interesting mix of options which seems to have varying results. As you can imagine, face tracking is good if you’re relatively close to the camera, then as you move away from the camera, it would be wise to swap to the body as it struggles to identify a face in the lower resolution. I also found the ‘dog’ mode works on cats, too – just as a fun fact – but I don’t have any horses to test the third tracking mode on, alas. There is also a fifth tracking mode, ‘none’ which I found very useful, as there is no way to turn the tracking off when you’re trying to set up the camera. The Max will constantly try to wrestle itself from your grasp as you try to align your shot if you don’t have the ‘none’ mode active.

Battery Life

Another point worthy of note is the impressive battery life. The Pivo Max can last 10-12hrs on a single charge, which provides users with the peace of mind that they don’t need to watch the clock on a shoot. Additionally, the Max has a USB-C out charging port on the upper section, so users are able to connect their phone directly to the device for a little extra juice.

Bluetooth Remote

Included in the box with the Pivo Max is a Bluetooth remote control to connect to the device directly. This can be used as an alternative to the features within the Pivo Apps but will still work with some modes of the companion apps. The remote lets users turn the Max at different speeds, and you are also able to set it to constantly spin in one direction.

Other Pivo devices

The Pivo Max is actually the biggest of the three Pivo devices, with the Pivo Pod Lite and the Pivo Pod being its smaller variants. They all seem to do the same job in principle, but the lighter, smaller, cheaper Lite version seems more intended for kids from it’s “colourful and fun” description. There’s a great range of colours for the Lite version, but the Pod and Max only come in black because adults aren’t allowed to have fun (I made that last bit up). The Pod variant has a load capacity of 1kg and appears to be a good middle ground between the two other devices. This is especially true if you’re just going to be filming with just your phone, then you probably don’t need the heavy-duty Max. The Pod and the Max both can move at double rotation speed, so they can track a vast amount of things, like horses, if that’s what you’re into.

Attachments

There’s a whole bunch of attachments you can get from the Pivo store to accompany your device. Some are more specific tools designed for certain applications of the Max, e.g: the Studio 360 bundle. As I mentioned earlier, this bundle (or your homemade equivalent) is necessary to 3D scan objects. Similarly, to mount your phone on top of your camera on the Max, you’ll require the Smart Mount (or you can 3D print or find something on Amazon). You don’t need Pivo’s special addons; you’re completely able to acquire your own elsewhere, but Pivo does massive discounts on their bundles, so if you’re starting off, you might as well get the set. Additionally, though, I would recommend doing your own research on any audio and lighting equipment to make sure you’re getting the right piece of equipment for your intended application.

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Pivo Max Performance Auto Tracking Phone Holder, Horse... Pivo Max Performance Auto Tracking Phone Holder, Horse... No ratings yet £269.99Amazon Prime

Pivo Max Review

Summary

I really like the Pivo Max, and I think it’s a great tool to bolster the production value of a small content creator. There’s such a variety of applications for the reproducible movements it creates, just looking at the Pivo Play app gives some idea of what you can accomplish. It’s incredibly versatile, with an abundance of uses, and you are only limited by your imagination when using the Pivo Max.

Overall
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  • Overall - 80%
    80%

Pros

  • Massive payload capacity
  • Motor is super smooth and stable
  • Works with any phone and most cameras (with accessory)

Cons

  • Extra phone mount needed for cameras
  • Accessories and apps significantly add to the final cost

Last update on 2024-04-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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