The populations of both content creators and work from home people are getting bigger. Demand for live streaming is growing with them. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a dedicated device to help make it all easier?
Well, there is such a device. Ender the Yolobox from Yololive ($1000 @ Amazon or B&H).
Looking at the Yolobox, it would be easy to dismiss it as an odd chunky tablet. Surprisingly, this little device is a full live streaming studio crammed into a small package.
Not only the box inputs video from multiple sources, but it also allows provides multi-view and switching capabilities. Oh, it also streams over 4G if you got a sim card. This feature-bundle, which needs no computer, makes the Yolobox a unique device.
What’s in the box:
- The Yolobox device
- two HDMI cables
- one USB cable
- a Power Plug
- A sim tray pin
- a hot-shoe mount
The first thing you will notice with the Yolobox is the 7″ touch screen. You really can’t avoid it, as it takes up most of the front face, and it’s how you control the device (there is one physical power button, but it does not really count as control).
The display itself is lovely, with excellent viewing angles. At 300nits, it’s also bright enough for most uses; it might need some shade in bright sunlight. One thing it does lack, though, is the ability to manually adjust the brightness, which would be handy for working in darker environments.
Moving onto the top of the unit, we see most of the inputs: two HMDI input ports, a USB port for webcams, an HDMI out, an ethernet, a 3.5 audio-in jack, and a USB-C socket.
If you need three HDMI inputs, then a 3rd camera-in can be added by plugging a webcam into the USB port. Or even using an HMDI capture device into the USB port.
The Audio-in requires a powered microphone or other high-level input to work, but there’s no way to set a delay, so audio won’t sync with the video as HDMI has a short delay. You could connect the audio out from say a phone or mixer to play background music, though.
On the bottom, we have Audio out, Simcard slot, 1/4-20 screw mount, and sd card slot.
Build quality is nice, although it’s best to keep it out of the rain with all those open ports on top. Weighing in at 480g, it is a bit heavier than a similar-sized external LCD screen, but this does have a built-in 5700mAh battery, which lasts around 3 hours of use—using the USB-C port, though, you can use it for more extended periods.
Starting up the device, you need to connect to the internet and create an account. This is quick and easy to do and is required to make the Yolobox work.
Connecting to the internet, we have three options, Ethernet being the best and most stable option for streaming, but you can also connect via wifi or 4g using the Simcard slot. Using 4g, the Yolobox can also act as a wireless hotspot, which can be handy.
After connecting to the internet, it’s time to create your YoloLiv account or log in, sadly there is no offline mode, so this is required to make the device work.
Next up, you create a session; for example, here I created a “Test”.
The next screen I feel isn’t required as while it lists your new and old sessions; there’s no way to access one that has been closed. A missed opportunity here; it should have been a list of saved presets that you can jump into at any point.
After selecting the scene, you can start configuring the live stream; here, I’m using the new 3.0 firmware.
Here you can select video sources from up to 5 locations. However, only two are from HDMI inputs, one from UVC devices such as webcams using the USB port, Video files from the SDcard slot, and the ability to import another stream.
I set the Yolobox up with three HMDI inputs: PS4 to HDMI 1, Sony A7ii to HDMI 2, and Sigma fp to USB via an HDMI capture card.
The display defines two halves, with the video inputs displayed on the left. They are all displayed in a lovely tiled arrangement with the live feed that would go out at the top and smaller preview windows of the other feeds. The previews run at a lower frame rate but allow you to see what the frame looks like before switching.
Tapping on the main window allows you to adjust the stream’s resolution and is the only option; at 720, the output is 2.5 Mbps, around 1GB/Hr with 480p and 1080p available depending on how much bandwidth you have.
On the right, there is an options menu. Currently, I have this set to the audio controls. You can select Automatic, which will switch the audio to whatever feed is the main, or select one feed, say HDMI1, and that’s where the audio will always come from. Sadly there is no ability to mix audio channels as of yet.
The Yolobox also supports other features such as Picture in Picture. You can access this by pressing add video source and getting to this screen:
Then after pressing “pip video”, you select a main and a secondary input. Lastly, you can adjust the pip video’s position by dragging it into place and changing its size using a scale slider. This procedure adds another video stream to your multiview window.
Another cool feature of the Yolobox is its ability to overlay graphics; these could be PNG logos loaded onto the sd card.
Here you can see the YoloLiv logo overlayed on top of a video clip from the SD card. Placing and sizing the overlays is just the same as the picture in picture menu.
You can also create some overlays on the device using an onscreen keyboard. This includes lower 3rds and scrolling text.
There’s even an ability to create scoreboards if you so wished.
Streaming from the Yolobox is pretty simple. There are no settings you can change other than the output size from 480p to 1080p, as covered above. Everything else is automatic, which keeps things simple.
However, you have to link your streaming platforms to your Yolobox and allow it to have the permission to stream. Currently, Yolo supports Facebook, Youtube, and Twitch, with Twitter coming soon.
Once you have linked your accounts, you can broadcast them simultaneously and record the stream to the SD card. To stream onto any platform, toggle it on the list.
Next, you can press the red circle button on the main video window to start streaming. You can also hit the record icon on the top right. You can see them better in the full view mode.
As you can imagine, there are many uses for such a device, from DSLR live streaming, where it can act as an external screen through live-vlogging and game streaming.
Or set up muti camera scenes to broadcast events like live music or conferences. You could even hook the HMDI out into a projector to display part of a live event onto a large screen and use the Yolobox as an HDMI switcher to switch between cameras in real-time.
The Yolobox is kind of its own thing, but looking at some other streaming platforms that we covered, It’s interesting to compare and contrast.
Unlike the L1, the Yolo can steam stand-alone, including 4G, so it can be a tiny package for when you go out. It also records internally and can pull files off an SD card. It does cost $700 more, but if portability is critical for you, it’s a no brainer.
Unline the Atem series, it has a decent size LCD. It also gives you previews; again, the cost is higher, but there is also more value.
Unlike both, it only supports 2 HDMI-in ports (or three if you want to deal with a capture device which defeats the entire point of using a stand-alone streaming device in the first place)
This is such a unique product, certainly not the only streaming tool available but the first to wrap everything into such a small package with an excellent display to keep things truly mobile. The fact no computer is required and its ability to stream over 4g using a sim card make this device stand out even more.
sadly its not without some limitations:
- Lack of brightness adjustment for the screen and little red led.
- No internal mixing of the audio channels; while it supports picture in picture, you can only hear one input at any given time.
- Could do with audio or video delay options so that you can synchronize audio and video.
- Only two HMDI inputs without using an HMDI capture card into the USB port, not many people will use a USB camera?
- The Yolo needs to be online to work. Sadly, there is no offline mode that you can use to view and record multiple cameras. Without logging in, you are locked out of the box.
- It is not possible to jump back into a closed session or save scenes longterm.
One last thing is that not all cameras are fully supported. While most cameras will work, there are a few that don’t display correctly or don’t work at all. My Sigma fp, for example, did not display correctly, and I had to use a USB capture card. It would be best to double-check that it will work with your current camera system.
The good thing is that YoloLiv seems committed to updating, adding features, and fixing support for cameras via a firmware update to the Yolobox so things keep getting better over time.
Still, even with some of its current limitations, I’m sure the Yolobox will work really well for many people, and its great we have such unique options. The photo at the top gives you some proportions of the Yolobox next to my hand. It is a genuinely portable mini live streaming studio for $1000.