Review: YoloLiv YoloBox Mini
In this review I am going to be taking a look at YoloLiv's latest little box, the YoloBox Mini.
YoloLiv has already released two tablet-based video mixing tools that have multiple inputs on top. They can switch between multiple sources, they can stream to the internet via WiFi, ethernet, or built-in cellular. They can play back video clips, overlay graphics, create titles, generate a sports scoreboard, integrate viewer comments, and more. They have proven to be very powerful little boxes, whether you want to just put this on a camera and do some streaming, or use it in a studio.
What Is It?
You can use The YoloBox Mini for recording, or just a single source streaming out. A lot of people are using one camera, on location, to stream things out. That, I feel, is the primary use-case for the YoloBox Mini.
YoloLiv sent me a demo unit for this review. One of the key features that this Mini has is 1080p60, which is a high frame rate that the other YoloBoxes, including the Pro, cannot do. They are limited to 1080p30. YoloLiv says that the Mini has the same processor as the Pro. So maybe, in a forthcoming update to the Pro, we might see 1080p60. But right now, in early May 2022, the Mini is the only YoloBox that can do 1080p60.
Because of this higher-frame rate capability, I believe this is geared towards people on the sideline doing sports, for which a higher frame rate helps smooth fast motion. It's also useful for electronic gaming. You can use the YoloBox to be your streaming device off to the side where you can easily touch it and keep the game in the computer in front of you.
The YoloBox Mini ships with some screen covers, a quickstart guide, and a little friction tilting head, perfect for putting the Mini on top of a camera. This enables you to easily set the right angle, whether the camera's up high and you need to tilt it down, or the camera's low and you want to tilt the screen up. Also in the package is a USB A-to-C cable for charging the YoloBox because it has a USB-C connector for power. There's no A/C adapter in the box and you need a good 3-amp USB adapter to power or run the YoloBoxes.
YoloBox I/O, Buttons, and Controls
On the top of the YoloBox Mini, for I/O you’ll find HDMI video in, USB, a second HDMI for video out, ethernet, and for audio, line input, mic input, and a headphone output. Lastly, you’ll see the USB-C connector for power (Figure 1, below). This is not a data connection.
Figure 1. YoloBox Mini I/O
On the bottom, the YoloBox Mini has a power button, an SD card slot for recording and media, and a SIM card slot right next to a 1/4-20 threaded hole. Because I'm not going to be swapping out the SIM card, its proximity to the 1/4-20 threaded mount is fine. I should still be able to have access to the SD card while it’s mounted.
There are no connectors or buttons on either side of the Mini. On the back, it has a mesh opening where you can hear a small fan pulling in air and blowing air out. YoloLiv says this box has the same processor as the Pro. The Pro also has a fan for active cooling. So this little box is designed to be able to do some higher-end things.
As you start up the Mini, first you choose a language, then you set a time zone. Instead of just letting users select their offset from GMT, they've listed cities in alphabetical order, which actually makes it harder for me to find the right time zone because my city is never in the list.
Next, you need to set up your connection to the internet, ethernet or WiFi. I’ll choose WiFi. After I connect, I can either sign in to an existing YoloLiv account, or create a new one. Once I log into my account, it loads the different projects that I have created on other YoloBoxes. I see the same projects listed out on the Pro that I'm using to record this review.
I have a cloud account with YoloLiv, so I can create something on one device and have it show up on another device. These projects, or shows, can be set up with their own media–stills, video, graphics, titles, etc. But understand that you are responsible for moving the actual media between devices, on an SD card in the device, with the same file path. The YoloLiv account doesn't transfer media between the devices, and the devices do not have internal media storage other than the SD card you provide.
When you hit the plus (+) sign, it gives you two options: create a live stream, which means creating a project that will remain selectable after your stream is done; and Monitor Mode, which is basically the same as live stream, except you’re not creating a project (Figure 2, below). It’s a one-time use.
Figure 2. Choosing Live Stream or Monitor Mode
There's a bottom row of icons. With the first, I can create an overlay, like a lower-third (Figure 3, below). I can also create another overlay, a countdown timer. Next, I have my audio mixer. After that, I've got a sports scoreboard. Lastly, there's a limited amount of general settings.
Figure 3. Overlay options
Next you choose encoding settings, including bitrate, frame rate, CBR/VBR (Figure 4, below). There's a slider for Program Out which enables you to select whether you want the HDMI out to be a multiview screen, or whether you want it to be your program feed. Lastly, there are settings for SD card management.
Figure 4. Encoding settings
I can see the Mini working perfectly on top of a camera on the sideline of a little league soccer game, football, baseball, etc. It's a nice 5-inch monitor. You can add a SIM card, or connect the WiFi to the hotspot in your phone to push directly from the YoloBox to whatever destinations you want.
The Mini also has access to YoloLiv's included multicasting service. You can send one stream out of the YoloBox and then it goes to up to three destinations, or you can send it to one directly.
On top of the unit, the YoloBox Mini has line input and mic input. If you had a mixing board, you could bring the line audio into the Mini. By adding a directional microphone, you could get sounds from the playing field instead of people talking on the sidelines. I can run a microphone directly into the YoloBox or I can feed it into the camera. In the video review, I’m using a directional microphone here in the studio, and it runs into the camera that comes into the YoloBox via HDMI.
Inside the YoloBox, there is an audio mixer (Figure 5, below). I can see the USB video is on and I can see the meter moving in the upper-left-hand corner. That is the audio that this webcam is receiving. I have the ability to turn it down and I can see the meter goes down to nothing. I have the ability to crank it up even louder. I can see there's a separate level control for mic input, line input, HDMI input. I have the ability to control where I want the audio to come from. I can turn this off and then turn the other source on.
Figure 5. Mixing audio sources in the YoloBox Mini