The Pivo Pod Active is a AI-driven, mechanized panning gimbal that, when coupled with various Pivo Pod apps, will allow your phone to automatically follow you while you create videos or take video calls. This means that, those creators out there looking to go hands-free and showcase or perform for the camera, can do that now without having to rely on a second person to hold the smartphone for them. The Pivo Pod comes in two basic flavors: the Pivo Pod Lite and the Pivo Pod Active. Both Pivo Pods are very similar in size and shape – the biggest differences being that the Lite version comes in a variety of colors and the Active version featuring a motor that is twice as fast for better action-tracking. The Pivo Pod Active was, until recently, referred to as the Pivo Pod Silver so you may still see it called that in various videos, etc.
Inside the box, you’ll find the Pivo Pod Active unit itself, a remote control, and a USB-C charging cable. It should be noted that the Pivo Pod Active is featured in several bundles on the Pivo website – some of which come with things like a tripod, travel case, smart mount, and more. However, in this review, we took a look at the basic Pivo Pod Active standalone package. The Pivo Pod Active itself is a black rubberized cylinder measuring about 2.5 inches in diameter and 3 inches tall. On the bottom side of the Pivo Pod Active, you’ll find three rubber feet that can extend out to the sides for greater support as well as a 1/4″ threaded mount for a tripod. On the front of the unit, you’ll find the on/off button with status ring light and, on the opposite side, the Pivo logo and USB charging port.
Pairing the Pivo Pod Active should be fairly straightforward if you are at all familiar with pairing Bluetooth devices on your smartphone. Once the Pivo Pod Active is turned on, just use the Pivo+ app to connect the device. It should be noted that sometimes the Pivo+ app will not detect the Pivo Pod Active even when turned on. It seems to have some bugs to work out still. That being said, using the Pivo Pod Active is not difficult and is overall a good experience. In fact, it is a bit too streamlined in some cases. For instance, there is no way to set your resolution, framerate, shutter speed, etc. It is all automatically handled by the app which might not work for your particular type of content. Attaching your phone to the Pivo Pod Active is accomplished via a knob-tightened clamp system that allows the phone to be mounted in either portrait or landscape orientations. It works well and doesn’t scratch your phone which is always a plus. It even includes a built-in bubble level to make sure the unit is angled where you want it.
The most confusing part of its usage is which of the five different apps to use for which situation. Unfortunately, they are all separate and it is easy to get mixed up between them. If Pivo decides to integrate them all into one app some day, I think that would be a good thing for the userbase. Pivo+ will probably be the app you spend most of your time in – that’s the app that simply handles recording video and tracking a subject. There is a lot of AI built into the app – it is even smart enough to track a horse, making it an outstanding choice out there for equestrians looking to record content. You can even set the Pivo Pod Active to “auto-zoom” which uses a digital zoom to keep the subject being tracked large enough within the frame. It’s a very cool feature. Aside from Pivo+, there is the Pivo Play app which records short videos using the tracking of the Pivo Pod to great effect in 12 different modes. This is where you can do things like clone yourself in a video clip – cool stuff. The Pivo Cast app is where you can do conference calling and social media casting albeit the app does seem to have some bugs to work out.
The Pivo Pod Active features about 10 hours of continuous use battery power – which I did not fully test as I couldn’t record content that long if I tried. But, it is nice to know that you won’t have to recharge it every day unless you are really taxing it. Using the remote control is easy and allows you to switch modes, start and stop recording, as well as manually adjust the rotation of the gimbal. The Pivo Pod Active is an outstanding auto-tracking smartphone gimbal for creators looking to present and record videos. While the app ecosystem is a bit confusing, the basic functionality of the Pivo Pod when coupled with the Pivo+ app is second to none. I highly recommend you pick up a tripod to go with your Pivo Pod, as that is a force multiplier when looking at replacing a camera operator with the automated system.