If you are a gamer, you probably, at least once, found yourself looking for a desk accessory to spice up your setup. While there’s plenty of decorations you can choose from, there’s a surprising lack of tech gadgets that are desk viable. Even more so if you are looking for a gadget that looks great and has some useful features. Luckily, Divoom offers a substantial lineup of such products and I even had a chance to review some of them in the past. While all of their pixel products share the same DNA, each brings its own special little feature to the table and it’s no different with their newest Divoom Pixoo-Max. Besides still being a bold and beautiful addition to your setup, this one can even be taken on the road. How so? Read on for the full breakdown.
Divoom Pixoo-Max is available to purchase on Kickstarter and you can sign up here to keep tabs on the project.
Divoom’s lineup of pixel products humbly started with their Timebox Bluetooth speaker and has since grown to include over 10 different products. For almost all of them, the main centerpiece was always the screen that has the ability to display a ton of nostalgia-inducing pixel images and animations. The story, of course, isn’t different with the Pixoo-Max. Coming in at 172.8 mm in length and width, it’s doesn’t have the largest screen in the Divoom lineup, but it definitely has the brightest and boldest one yet. You see, the Pixoo-Max was not only designed to be used indoors to embellish your gaming setup but also as a sort of an outdoor billboard.
In that regard, the Pixoo-Max was made to be light and highly portable, coming in at mere 450 grams. Its backside is made out of plastic and while it doesn’t feel very durable in itself, the entire construction of the device feels solid enough to survive minor falls. In order to make it viable for outdoor use, Divoom made improvements to screen brightness and the durability of the battery. For the screen, they used an industrial grade 6000 cd LEDs in order to make the pixel-graphics be visible in broad daylight. In fact, the screen can be so bright as to require you to significantly reduce the brightness level when playing certain animations indoors. Outdoors, the screen is able to visibly display animations in all situations safe for the ones where the screen is exposed to a very strong, direct sunlight. In those cases, they’ll simply appear slightly dimmed but still fully visible. Of course, the visibility can depend on the complexity of the animation you have playing, but it’s safe to say that Pixoo-Max will clearly display what you want in all but the extremest of conditions.
The only button you have on the Pixoo-Max is the power button on its right-hand side. The upper portion of this button can be short pressed to check the battery life while the lower portion can be used to cycle between a couple of built-in pixel animations. Under that, you have the built-in microphone which is used for the music visualizer and voice commands which I’ll get to in a minute. Being very minimal, the only other design features to take note of are the ones having to do with how and where you position the Pixoo-Max.
Here you have three different options. The first one is to simply hang it on a wall in order to use it as a clock or a digital pixel frame. While this is a great way of having the Pixoo-Max being prominently displayed, it becomes an issue if you want to have it constantly up and running. Pixoo-Max does have a small trench leading to the Type-C charging port so it can flatly rest on any surface while being plugged in. However, despite the included cable being sufficiently long, having it run down your wall isn’t exactly a pretty sight, which will probably cause you to take the device down whenever it needs recharging.
The second option is to have the device standing on a desk or any flat surface which is how I see the Pixoo-Max mostly being used. This can simply be done using the included plastic stick which you simply pop into the socket on the back of the Pixoo-Max. Despite this stand method seeming a bit too simplistic and flimsy at first, it’s actually surprisingly effective at having the device be in a stable upright position. In essence, you don’t need to worry about it falling flat on its back or face, and even hits to the surfaces will leave the Pixoo-Max completely unfazed.
The third option is the car mount and is probably the most distinguishing feature of the Pixoo-Max. The car mounting accessories included in the package are essentially two suction cups which can simply be screwed into both the upper and lower side of the Pixoo-Max. You simply place these on a car windshield and pull the small lever to have the device tightly secured. While you might have second thoughts on letting your new toy be held in place by the mere power of the vacuum, these cups really do a great job of securing and keeping the device safely and firmly in place.
Once you do that, you can use the Pixoo-Max to display all sorts of animations to other drivers. Thank them when allowing you to merge, warn them of potential danger ahead, or simply make someone’s day by displaying one of the numerous quirky animations available in the Divoom app. To this end, Divoom even included a heavy-duty 3.5m car charger extension cable so you can go on a long trip without fear of running out of battery. While advertised solely as car mounting accessories, you can use the suction cups on any glass surface to, for example, display Christmas or Halloween themed animations on your windows or even use them as an advertising tool in shops or stores.
While the Pixoo-Max can be used autonomously to display the time and a couple of animations, its full suite of features is unlocked only in combination with the Divoom app. The app is very user friendly and is available on both the Google Play and Apple’s App Store and is connected to the device via the rock-solid Bluetooth 5.0 connection. First up, it’s here that you can play around with different settings of the Pixoo-Max. You can decide if you want it running in 24 or 12-hour mode, have it display Celsius or Fahrenheit, change the startup animation, turn on the car and power-saving mode and adjust the brightness level. You can even enable a nifty little option where you can shake your smartphone in order to increase the brightness in small increments.
Next up and probably the best part of the app is community integration. Since its creation, the app has managed to create a giant community of users that can upload their own designs for everyone else to use. This giant library of pixel presets and animations has it all – from simple yet effective to convoluted and creative ones. Coupled with the amazingly bright LED’s of the Pixoo-Max, these are an absolute joy to look at. There are emojis, cartoon, gaming and comic book characters, plenty of humorous and pop-culture related ones, and more. They are neatly placed into categories, all of the presets can be customized, and you can even save 12 of them to the device to be displayed even when the Pixoo-Max isn’t connected to a smartphone.
Like other Divoom smart devices, the Pixoo-Max can also be used as a small information and notification HUB. It has several clock presets to display the time but there’s also the current date, weather, and temperature animation. It will also display notifications for various apps like Whatsapp or Instagram should you receive them on the connected device. This functionality helps turns the Pixoo-Max to more than a colorful display but it definitely still has room to grow in terms of deeper app integration. Outside of receiving notifications, you can’t use it to display something like a subscriber count, full messages, or likes on your posts.
The channel tab also gives you the option to cover the entire screen in light depending on your mood, turn on animation shuffle, showcase amazing VJ effects, or even display a music visualizer that takes advantage of the built-in microphone. There’s plenty of other things to play around within the app. The “discover” tab in the UI has over 20 different functions you can use to further boost the already significant appeal of the Pixoo-Max. While some of these are self-explanatory in what they do, each one works in tandem with the device and has a corresponding animation. Setting up an alarm will display an alarm icon, the stopwatch will have a small bird jumping above the numbers, the countdown will have a bomb exploding animation and more.
Some of the more special functionalities are the ones where you can design and animate your own presets, display and customize your own text, play a coloring game, pretend to be a DJ, or even play some simple games like Tetris, snake or block breaker. While you could call these simple gimmicks that you’ll only use a couple of times, they add immense value to the Pixoo-Max that makes it stand out among such similar devices.
Furthermore, the app even has the voice command functionality, further boosting its convenience, especially when used in a car. Currently, the option is available only to the iOS devices with Android support coming down the line. With it, you can essentially assign different animations to display whenever you say a certain voice command. So for example, you can have a thumbs up animation playing whenever you say “Thank you”.
The last thing to mention, of course, is the 5000 mAh battery. While that’s certainly a heavy-duty battery, however long it will last will depend on numerous factors – the animation played, the LED brightness, and how often you use its advanced functionalities. I mostly used it indoors at 40% brightness level to display the time, notifications, and a couple of different animations. Depending on the latter, the Pixoo-Max went anywhere from 6 to 10 hours without needing to be recharged. On that note, I have to mention that the app doesn’t show the remaining battery life so if you want to check how much juice you have left, you need to get up to the device and press the power button. Furthermore, it would definitely be slightly better to have it shown as a percentage instead of just a vague pixel image where you have to approximate how much of the battery you have left.