Pivo Max review: This hands-free video tool shoots your workouts without needing a gym-buddy camera operator…
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$249.99 / £239.99, uk.pivo.ai
- Easy to set up and use
- Works with front and back cameras
- Makes solo shots easier to snap
- Struggles with fast movement
- Remote control can be buggy
- No mic access for iPhones in portrait mode
Ease of use: 4/5
Shot quality: 4/5
The Pivo Max auto-tracking mount for smartphones, tablets or cameras uses an AI-powered app to help you shoot more exciting, dynamic and professional videos of your lifts, lunges and workout routines without the need to rope in a gym buddy to play camera op.
Whether you’re interested in capturing workouts for TikTok fame or you simply want to analyse your deadlift form, this gadget is designed to make shooting solo fitness flicks easy. But does it? I put it to the test shooting everything from gym floor drills to my running technique to find out.
Pivo Max design
The Pivo Max is fairly heavy, but it’s well designed, robustly built and uncomplicated thanks to most of the controls living in the Pivo apps.
The pod mounts easily onto any tripod that has the standard 1/4in screw thread or can be set down on any flat surface. There’s an easy-to-use clamp that holds smartphones and tablets securely in place. Unlike some of the cheaper Pivo pods, the Max also supports heavier devices such as pro cameras up to 2kg.
There’s a remote control that lets you start and stop recordings and control the rotation of the Max, plus a built-in LED light ring on the Max makes it easy to see when you’re recording.
If you’re thinking of using it in a regular public gym, it’s hardly the most subtle set-up. For best results you’ll need to lug a tripod in your gym bag too.
Another small snag I encountered with the design was, if you’re shooting with an iPhone in portrait mode and you want to use a wired mic – well, you can’t. The way the phone sits in the mount means the mic socket is obscured.
On the plus side, the battery life is excellent. On paper it packs a 10-12 hour shoot time and I found it largely lives up to that. You can also use it to simultaneously to keep your USB-C devices juiced while you shoot. But only when the Pivo is plugged into the mains.
Pivo Max features
There are two main Pivo apps – Pivo+ and Pivo Play – where you access all the clever stuff. The Pivo+ app has more of your standard shooting tools with preset capture settings for activities such as sport and skating. Or you can create and save your own presets. You can do a bit more tinkering in this app with things like exposure too.
Meanwhile the Pivo Play app offers more fun and creative shoot modes, with all kinds of clever stills and video styles, from clone trails to panning panoramas, 50/50 video/photo content and auto pan footage.
It’s a bit odd to have two apps that offer some of the same features rather than just one that does it all, but they’re both fairly intuitive to use.
There are five different tracking modes: Face, Body, Action, Horse and Dog tracking. I only tested the first three (because I don’t own a horse or a dog).
The Action Tracking mode lets you track anything just by drawing a box on the screen to select your target. And you can tweak the tracking pace with six different rotation speeds. In every mode the AI kicks in to keep you or your target in the centre of the frame.
One of the big benefits of the Pivo Max is that you can shoot with auto-tracking working in full 360-degree rotation, so in theory you never move out of shot.
Pivo Max performance
The Pivo Max is relatively intuitive to set up and easy to use, even for a beginner. There’s a bit of a learning curve to familiarise yourself with the different modes and what works best for the shots you need. But the unit does its best to guide you through them, particularly in the Play app.
When it comes to shooting your workouts, the automatic tracking works really well for videos with slower and less vigorous movement. It’s good for active front-on shots like star jumps where you stay central to the frame. But the body tracking struggled somewhat with more dynamic side-to-side drills like lunges, and if you move too quickly you will find yourself out of frame. Don’t expect buttery movement capture when you move fast from side to side, as it will judder.
When I tried things like running through a panning shot, it worked well. But that’s not relying on the auto tracking.
Overall the video quality shot through the app is impressive, even from the front-facing camera. You can also control the Pivo Max with the remote while shooting from your device’s own camera, but then you’re losing the auto-tracking smarts and I found it hard to get flowing shots.
Pivo Max verdict
The Pivo Max isn’t perfect, and it’s far from a complete replacement for a human holding a camera. But if you shoot a lot of video solo, this is a good weapon to have in your gym bag. If you’re making videos of workout routines, it’ll bring some dynamism to your shots and largely ensure you’ll be in the frame.
It works best for locked off shots where you’re staying central and moving slowly and steadily – think yoga mat routines rather than fast-paced dynamic box jumps. Plus the Pivo Play app modes are also cool if you want something to help you create fun and engaging fitness content for social.