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Review: Livestream Mevo

If you frequently produce live or on-demand videos for social media sites, Livestream Mevo can help you produce more polished and engaging videos. While there are some rough edges in version 1.0, and there is a learning curve for operation, Mevo is an essential tool for any organization seeking to leverage the power of video in its social media marketing.
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Livestream Mevo (Figure 1, below) is a 4K camera/iPhone app combination that lets you stream or record an entire 4K image, or sections of that image, to simulate a multiple-camera production.

Figure 1. The Mevo, front and back. Click the image to see it at full size.

Imagine a band on stage, with the ability to frame the entire group, or switch between one or two band members, or focus in on their instruments (Figure 2, below). The camera, of course, is static, and all switching and configuration options are managed through the iPhone. Framing and switching can be manual or fully automatic, guided by facial recognition and other cues.

Figure 2. Creating a two-shot in the Mevo iPhone app. The frame in the upper-right corner is what’s being recorded, streamed, or both. Click the image to see it at full size.

The base Mevo camera comes with a mount for a microphone stand, an AC adapter and a long USB cable for charging or powering the device, plus a 16GB micro SD card and adapter. Battery operation is rated at about one hour, and the USB connector on the camera is used only for power; you can’t connect a USB microphone or other peripheral to the Mevo. Those requiring longer battery-powered operation can buy the Mevo Boost accessory for $249, which includes an internal battery that can power the camera for up to ten hours, an Ethernet port, and a USB port for charging or for deploying a USB 4G modem.

You download the free Mevo app from the Apple App store; there is no current Android version, though one is planned. Once installed, you connect your iPhone to the Mevo in one of two ways. On option is to configure the Mevo as a mobile WiFi hotspot, and choose the Mevo as your WiFi in the iPhone settings. Any live streaming in this mode will use your iPhone’s 4G service, making it appropriate primarily when WiFi isn’t available or is too slow. Alternatively, you can log your Mevo and iPhone into the same WiFi network and communicate over WiFi, in which case all streaming occurs via your Wi-Fi connection.

Hardware Specs

The Mevo comes in black or white. Our test unit was black, like the unit shown in Figure 1. The unit is about 2.5" high with a diameter of 2", and it weighs 4.6 ounces, well under half a pound. You turn the unit on and off via a button on top of the camera, with the front side dominated by a fixed 150mm f/2.8 glass lens and microphones and speakers behind a small grill. The Mevo comes with a small base you can screw into a microphone stand and lock to the camera. Alernatively, you can run the camera from a tabletop or any flat surface.

On the back of the Mevo you’ll find WiFi signal level and battery-level indicators, with feedback supplied via a 24-color LED light ring on the top with colored flashing lights that looked cool, but that I found hard to discern. Fortunately, you get more than enough operational data from the iPhone app itself.

The camera uses a 4K Sony sensor with a resolution of 12.4 MP, capable of capturing 3840x2160 pixels at 30fps. Camera controls via the app are extensive (Figure 3, below). For example, you can set exposure to either auto or fixed, and you can set white balance to auto or choose from four presets: incandescent, sunny, cloudy, or fluorescent. You can apply three filters (B&W, vivi, and sepia), choose from three levels of sharpness, and adjust brightness, contrast, and saturation separately. Unfortunately, you can’t see the video while making these adjustments, which complicates operation. This is a problem that other camera manufacturers have solved, and Livestream needs to solve it as well.

Figure 3. These camera adjustments are great, but it would be useful to actually see the incoming video while using them.

In my tests, auto modes worked well enough, and Mevo proved adept at working in low light with good brightness and minimal grain. At times, the camera would noticeably pulse through exposure adjustments in dim lighting, though this never happened during actual shooting and recording--just when I was testing and learning how to use the camera.