Divoom has a habit of mixing screens with speakers, backpacks, and anything else under the rainbow. This time around, they've taken a picture frame and given it a retro flair, by giving you the power to customize any sort of pixel art onto it and hang it on your wall. Is it the best budget-friendly option for creative pixel-artists, or is it overshadowed by Divoom's other, more featured-packed products?
After having seen the Tivoo-Max and the Timebox-Evo, the Pixoo is very minimalistic and simple compared to its brethren. Coming in a no-frills box, packed alongside a few stickers, it looks exactly like a regular digital picture frame. There's two buttons on the Pixoo: one to turn it on, and another on the front to cycle through the various built-in options, such as mood lighting, clock, hot art, and others. It can even display the weather, which makes it a pretty useful little tool.
The Pixoo is alright on its own, but it's when you get the companion app that it really enhances what you can do with it. There's a variety of cool features packed within the app, which seamlessly syncs to the Pixoo through Bluetooth. There, you'll find a full gallery of fan and "pro"-created pixel art, cutesy games like magic 8-ball and pixel slots, and a grid that lets you draw your own designs. Since the grid fits 16x16 art, it can be a bit difficult to fit your favorite pixelized creations onto the screen, but at the same time, it feels almost like creating a design in Animal Crossing, where you have a small space to pack as much creativity as possible into.
Anything you make can be saved and uploaded to Divoom's public gallery for others to use, or you can save them to be edited later, which is useful if you're trying to make an animation. While you're browsing the app, you might come across more intricate artwork--ones with far more pixels than the Pixoo can handle. That's because those specific designs are made with the fancier Pixoo-Max in mind, which boasts a 32x32 grid, allowing you to create much more detailed art--almost like the NES vs the SNES in terms of a visual upgrade. It feels a little disappointing when you get inundated with incompatible art that looks extra cool, only to be met with a message that says you can't display it on your smaller Pixoo screen.
Where the Pixoo feels like it falls a little short is in its most important feature: the screen itself. If you're not comparing it to anything, then the colors look merely alright; however, if you put it next to, say, the Tivoo-Max, you'll notice that the colors on the former are far more washed out and greener in hue than the latter. Considering that the Pixoo doesn't have any other features to fall back on other than its screen, it's a little baffling why they chose to go with a lower-quality panel, unless it's meant to keep the price down.
Left: Pixoo / Right: Tivoo-Max
On the other hand, while the colors may not be as vibrant, they're also not as "blurry." A concern that some have previously shown for Divoom's other pixel products are geared towards the uneven nature of the lights behind the screen. To some, the individual "pixels" don't appear to be equally bright, or that they have a muddled look because the lights don't look equal. That's where the Pixoo shines (literally) because while it won't get as bright, the more diffused lights behind the panel make the artwork seem crisper. It's a trade-off: do you want the screen to look sharper but less vibrant, or more striking, yet less accurate?
I could see the Pixoo being a good option for those not wanting to spend over $50 on a gift, or for those who enjoy pixel art or drawing and want something to have fun playing around with. The Pixoo is certainly cute, but with its slightly duller LCD and limited 16x16 grid, it feels like you'd be better off grabbing one of their more "premium," yet cooler options.