Pivo Pod Review: A Camera Assistant for Aspiring Social Media Stars


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I’ve always gone to great lengths to snap selfies of myself hands-free—stacking boxes on top of books on top of tables, setting timers, and angling my smartphone just right. Asking someone for help is out of the question because I think I’m photogenic until another person is in the room. Then I suddenly can’t even smile without looking like I’m in pain. But a little device called the Pivo Pod has changed everything—my self-photographed dreams have come true.

The Pivo Pod is a small cylindrical and wireless gadget that can rotate 360 degrees. You mount your smartphone on it, and through a variety of creative modes you can capture fun photos or videos and have the little device do all the hard work. It takes the guesswork out of timing your shots, editing, and even positioning, so all you really need to do is pose. It’s a bit pricey at $159 for a rotating little puck, but if you’re a burgeoning TikTok or YouTube star, it’s a great helper if you’re riding solo—or if you just can’t have someone else in the room to watch your shenanigans.

Strike a Pose

Pivo Pod’s Many Me mode.

Photograph: Pivo

The Pivo Pod is about 3 inches tall with a mount attached to the top. The mount grips your phone in portrait or landscape mode, and it sits on a disc that rotates 360 degrees. There’s also a level to keep your phone resting straight. A remote is also included, and you can use it to activate the shutter on your phone, switch between modes, or adjust the position of the mount.

There are two versions: the Pivo Pod and the Pivo Pod Silver. The latter has improved auto-tracking and can rotate twice as fast, but it’s a limited edition and not the model I tested.

Thankfully, it’s all fairly simple to set up and get going. You’ll need the Pivo app (iOS, Android), and it uses Bluetooth to pair the Pod to the phone. The app walks you through each shooting mode, and if you weren’t paying attention the first time around, it’s easy to get a quick refresher.

This shot was captured using Pivo Pod’s Tiny Planet mode, which uses the 360-degree capability to turn your surroundings into a small planet.

Photograph: Pivo

There are currently 12 shooting modes, including regular photo capture, panorama, as well as motion timelapse videos. This is where the Pivo Pod shines. Some of the modes are effects that might otherwise take you a little bit of time and effort, but there’s nothing you need to worry about other than striking a creative pose.

Among my favorites are Many Me, which takes multiple photos of you and stitches them into one shot, and Double Take, a video feature that’s a nice way to show off makeup or costume reveals. There’s also Versus, another video effect that records, rotates, and then records another video (up to five times) for when you want to show off a new outfit or toss the video to a friend and back.

Even better is an automatic face tracking mode, which does a fairly good job of following my face. And you don’t even need to use the remote control to start and stop recording. A special Smart Capture mode makes it so that you can snap your fingers, clap your hands, or say cheese, and the Pivo will start a countdown before it starts capturing. If you wanted to start your own YouTube cooking show, this is a very easy way to do it alone.

A lot of this does depend on the quality of your smartphone camera, though if you have a mid-range to high-end phone from the last two or three years, the quality should be more than sufficient for YouTube, Instagram, or TikTok. Plus, you can always use accessories for a more unique look, like attaching mobile camera lenses from Moment to get a wider field of view.

Most of the Pivo’s functions are easy to use, it just might take a few tries for you to understand exactly how the mode works to get the perfect shot. And the modes themselves are customizable, allowing you to tweak settings for things like capture length, number of photos or videos taken, and how many degrees the Pod rotates. You’ll have to re-activate the shutter between takes, so for modes like Double Take, you can relax as long as you need in between shots.

For New Content Creators

Photograph: Pivo

If you want to spend your time in quarantine making social media videos for the likes of Instagram or TikTok rather than just watching them, the Pivo Pod is a simple way to get started. It lasts a while too—a little under 10 hours on a single charge, which is plenty of time for me to snap all the content I need. It’s a shame it uses the older MicroUSB port for charging though, instead of the more universal USB-C.

In the box, you just get the charging cable and remote, but there are a variety of other accessories you can add on, like bundles with a tripod, an action mount, and a portable photo studio with a lightbox. You can place small products on the Pod and have them rotate in place for some ad-worthy video clips. You can also use a tripod you might have already as it has a 1/4 thread on the underside of the Pod.

The Pod won’t make you a filmmaker or a camera whiz, and if you’re considering a career on YouTube, you should probably learn how to edit videos on your own without the help of a device. It also won’t rocket you into the halls of social media fame. But for people just getting started, it takes away the roadblocks of not knowing how to edit or how to use more professional cameras, and lets you jump right into content creation. For someone who has about six followers and nothing to prove, it’s been incredibly entertaining.

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