March 24, 2023

Somehow, during the pandemic, we’ve all become livestreamers, even if it just means rearranging our office shelves for a better Zoom backdrop. But the pandemic has also been a boon for customers with slightly more advanced needs, such as those who need specialized hardware, whether that’s fancy streaming lights, capture cards, or entire live production setups. Atem, Elgato, and company probably never saw as many searchers on their sites as they did in mid-2020. Another player in this space is YoloLiv, which provides hardware and software tools for creating live productions. The company recently rolled out a number of interesting software updates, and sent us the YoloBox Pro to give it a try.

Image Source: Euloliv

What makes YoloLiv boxes stand out is that they are self-contained devices that you can use to run live productions with multiple cameras without needing a dedicated desktop or laptop for streaming.

You can basically think of the YoloBoxes as very chunky Android tablets (in fact, they do run Android). The Pro version is the flagship model with an 8-inch screen, three HDMI inputs for incoming camera feeds, a USB port for connecting a webcam, and an SD card reader for importing pre-recorded video and saving recordings . There’s also a line-in port for incoming audio and a USB-A port that lets you use the device as a webcam and connect it to a computer and an HDMI-out port for dedicated monitors. To connect the Box to the internet, there’s an Ethernet port for wired connections and Wi-Fi, and it even supports LTE connectivity.

The system runs on a Qualcomm 660 chip and a dedicated media encoder, all of which worked as advertised at up to 60 frames per second in my tests.

Image Source: Euloliv

The company also offers a 7-inch YoloBox with two HDMI inputs and a USB port for a webcam, but there’s no way to use the entire unit as a webcam. The latest addition to the series is the 5.5-inch YoloBox Mini, which has only one HDMI port and a USB port for adding a webcam. This makes its potential use cases a bit limited, but unlike the standard non-Pro YoloBox, you can use it as a webcam. Most likely, this is because both the Pro and Mini use Qualcomm’s 660, while the YoloBox uses the less powerful 625 chipset.

The company is also about to release a new box – In-stream ads — Available for streaming on Instagram and TikTok, with a focus on vertical videos.

As someone who usually produces live streams using OBS or Restream Studio, migrating to YoloBox took a little getting used to. But I can definitely see the appeal of YoloBox. Setup takes a few minutes. Connecting the camera is a plug-and-play affair – once you’ve entered your YouTube, Facebook or Twitch credentials, you’re ready to go. If you want to get fancy, you can build your own picture-in-picture, side-by-side and split views and easily switch back and forth between them during a show.

Image Source: Euloliv

One thing that strikes me is that, during my beta phase, with every software release, the company rolls out useful new features. Lately — and most importantly for those who are recording live interviews or podcasts — you can now invite people to watch your show.

However, if you are using the device as a webcam, one thing you must keep in mind is that there is a slight delay in processing all video sources. We’re talking maybe half a second, but that’s enough to make the conversation more difficult, and if you don’t feed the audio through the YoloBox but through the computer, it’s out of sync. This isn’t the most likely use case for these devices, but it’s worth keeping in mind.

The device glows when you use it to produce live events. Setting up different views is easy, you just use the touchscreen to switch. You can set the lower third or any other text on the screen and input and output it as needed, give the presenter a name, etc. There’s also a scoreboard for streaming school football games. Of course, there’s a built-in countdown timer and pretty much everything else you’d expect. Writing down a third of content on a touchscreen is going to be a bit outdated after a while, and I’d like to see more features that make it easier to recycle them from stream to stream, but that’s a small problem.

A few days ago, YoloLiv launched a version 2.0 package for the Pro, which added some features that I missed with the device. Chief among them, at least for me, is the ability to duplicate, reorder, and prioritize overlays, and for those using it to stream sports (or esports), instant playback is now supported.

Not surprisingly, all of this requires quite a bit of energy. The YoloBox Pro is powered by a 10,000 mAh battery, which the company claims has a battery life of around 3 hours. I was close to more than two hours in testing, but I also tried a lot of features at the same time. For some features, including adding guests, YoloLiv recommends that you don’t use an external webcam and just use the HDMI input, which is correct in my experience. Webcams seem to require more computing power, and some of these new features really push the device to its limits.

Still, I’m impressed with how the company clearly listens to user feedback and improves the device with each update.

There is clearly room for such a device. For almost $1,300, you’re either a very dedicated hobbyist or a nonprofit that doesn’t need a larger setup, but if you’re happy with the amount of input, I can’t really think of another one that’s easy to carry around like this solution (unless you want to bring a laptop and switcher and more). I’m sure professionals always prefer the hardware control of Blackmagic’s (or its larger equivalent) ATEM Mini Pro. But as an all-in-one machine, the YoloBox Pro currently doesn’t have many competitors.

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