Is Pivo Pod X a worthwhile smart camera stand?

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7 min read
Pivo Pod X smart video stand

Are you sick and tired of always going out of frame when filming yourself? After countless takes, you finally nail the perfect shot but upon reviewing you notice a part of the body cut off. How annoying. You might think asking a friend to help might solve the problem.

It depends on how good your friend is with the camera and how well you guys work together. Otherwise you still get video takes with your head or limbs cut off, and you want to chop off your friend’s head or limbs.

Don’t put your friendship on the line. Leave this to someone you can trust more. Or rather, something you’ll trust more. Pivo Pod X is a phone camera stand that uses AI to help you take the perfect video. At least this is what Pivo wants you to believe.

With DJI‘s OM and Pocket series and similar products from Zhiyun and Feiyu, the claim by Pivo is a pretty tall one.

What is it

Pivo Pod X is a holder for your smartphone that rotates and tilts so that your phone’s camera can track people in the frame. It claims that this makes smart real-time adjustments through what it call Cinematic AI and Composition AI. Basically what a fancy name for using AI to keep the subject in frame and look good.

This proprietary AI tracking feature can track humans, animals, and objects.

It has what it calls Deep Color Fusion that is essential auto colour correction. The app also has Quick Create Modes that let you play with effects such as Clone Trails (basically cloning yourself as you move in the video) and Magic Edge (stitching two videos together).

Who is it for

If you are forever alone or are shy and dislike being on camera with someone operating the camera, this will help you take good videos. This would be a fun toy for aspiring TikTok creators to make some good content.

But wait, before you run off and grab your Pivo Pod X, you might want to check if your phone works with this pocket camera stand. As with things like phone mounts and cases, we always have to deal with compatibility for different phone shape and sizes.

Remember to check that it works with your smartphone, or you might have to get a phone that works with it. From what we see in the comments on their Kickstarter, they are not answering people’s questions asking if they support certain phone models like the iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Is it innovative

To be honest, Pivo Pod X is not as innovative as it looks. They try too hard.

Let me start off by saying that they have an innovative product by creating a device that comes with many useful and fun features. These might not be groundbreaking or innovative features, but the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

That said, there are some ways we feel they try to trick consumers. If you are a regular reader, you know that we Critical Bears hate this. If you have a bad product and resort to such tricks, shame on you. But if you have a good product and still use these tricks, it is a real shame.

First, let’s look at the Auto Tracking GIF. I’m sure they have a good auto tracking system that many users of the first Pivo Pod are enjoying. So, I don’t understand why they have to fake the effect in their video and the GIF.

The video that appears on the phone is definitely added in post-production.

  1. There are no controls on the phone screen.
  2. You can see the reflection move on the sides of the phone as it rotates, but there are no reflections on the screen.
  3. A video of a smartphone screen won’t be in such sharp detail.
  4. When you shoot with the phone from an the angle like this, you won’t get the full person in frame unless you shoot at a super wide angle.
  5. And we should see a video shooting upwards at the person, yet the video we see is shot at more or less waist height.
Pivo Pod X auto tracking demo

Next, we have the motion stabilisation demo.

In the GIFs below, the one on the left is the after video, and the one on the right is the before video.

I’m curious how the videographer shot the before video. How can you get such a shaky footage? Even if you are filming handheld, you don’t shake that much with such a simple pan shot with a phone camera. Go try it and see how much shaking you need to get the shaky effect of the video on the right.

But wait, this should be shot on the Pivo Pod X. Are they saying that the Pivo Pod X is so shaky that it requires a lot of software stabilisation? I have no answer for this and I hope the Pivo team can shed some light on this.

If you watch the videos frame by frame you can see that they are the exact same video with some supposed motion stabilisation. How do we explain this? Is the Pivo Pod X’s panning so unstable? Or is something fishy going on?

We asked our video experts and their consensus is that it is actually plausible that the video on the left is the original, and the one on the right is edited to create an exaggerate shaking effect.

Pivo Pod X motion stabilisation demo

Last but not least, we have something that is more of a somewhat misleading claim.

Pivo Pod X has a Deep Color Fusion feature that it claims to be great for content creators because, “Never settle for less-than-vibrant colors for your videos with Pod X.”

This would attract beginner video creators who want their footage to have a punchier look. But once you advance a little in videography, you know that you don’t want any colour correction. You want the original footage that you can then do more colour grading in post-production.

Pivo Pod X Deep Color Fusion demo

Is it worth it

The Pivo Pod X is selling for $159 on Kickstarter. The price will go up after the campaign ends. It is a reasonable price when you compare it to the DJI OM 5 that sells for the same price on Amazon. But bear in mind that the DJI OM 5 is a 3-axis stabiliser while the Pivo Pod X only tracks on two axis.

The direct competitors to DJI OM 5 are Zhiyun Smooth Q3 that retails at only $89 on Amazon and the Feiyu VLOG Pocket that sells for $69 on Amazon.

Is the Pivo Pod X really worth being in the same price bracket as the DJI OM 5? We’ll only know when backers start to get their Kickstarter pledges. Maybe someone might put it to test.

What are the alternatives

There are many gimbals and camera stands in the market. The three biggest players DJI, Zhiyun and Feiyu all have pocketable versions of their gimbals, so Pivo Pod X doesn’t really have an advantage in this regards.

Of the three brands, DJI has the most mature software. It is the market leader when it comes to video tracking and stabilisation algorithm. It would be my first choice and if it goes for the same price as the Pivo Pod X, I find it hard to choose Pivo.

Conclusion

Despite its high price point, I was ready to show more support for Pivo. They designed something that looks less daunting for beginners who want to take videos. And the Pivo Pod X has features that would benefit a lot of beginner video creators.

However, their attempts at misleading consumers left a bad taste in my mouth. Shame on them. If the team thinks I’m mistaken, do get in touch and I’ll be happy to clarify things.

Before they do, I can only conclude that the so-called demo videos are actually video footage edited with a red rectangle around the the subject to give you the impression of the tracking effect.

Big Cat the lion bear

Hi, I’m Big Cat.

I’m a young lion that identifies as a bear. Not a brave lion. No cat jokes.

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