Livestream Movi Hands-On: The Next Livestream Star

Livestream's Movi made some big promises, claiming pro-edited footage on the fly from a palm-sized camera, but it could mark a big change in live-streaming. Launched at CES 2016 this week, it not only beams out high-def video in real-time, but turns a connected iOS device into a portable editing studio.

The camera itself is surprisingly compact, a stubby cylinder dominated by a wide-angle lens on the front and a microphone. You'll probably want to pair it with the Movi Boost, however, an extension cylinder that contains a 10hr battery, ethernet port, and USB.

Either way, the functionality is the same. The Movi has a 4K video sensor but, using the companion app for iPhone and iPad, it can intelligently crop sections out of the frame for close-ups.

It's how straightforward that process is that makes live editing of streaming video – or, indeed, live editing of video you're recording – a real possibility. The Movi app defaults to showing the full field of view from the sensor, but you can tap on any part of the frame to crop in.

Pinch-zoom on a subject, meanwhile, and the Movi will do a smooth zoom in, complete with a little acceleration and deceleration at the beginning and end. The length of time you hold your fingers on the screen adjusts the length of time that the zoom itself takes: it's easy to do a snap zoom or, conversely, a long, slow crop over the course of several seconds.

Drag the virtual camera reticle across the frame, and you can create a slow pan across a scene.

Movi can automatically identify faces and show a grid of up to nine virtual cameras, switching the broadcast (or recorded) stream depending on which you tap on. Alternatively, you can select the subjects yourself, and the virtual camera will automatically track them.

Left alone, Movi will go into auto-curate mode, and switch between shots automatically. It can pick which virtual camera to feature depending on who is talking, or who is animated; if someone is talking for too long, it'll automatically switch to a wide shot.

Video can either be uploaded and streamed directly from the camera – it has a WiFi connection, or can tether through a nearby smartphone or, if you have the Boost, over ethernet or via a plugged-in USB 4G modem – or saved to microSD card. Unfortunately, you can't edit prerecorded video with a different series of virtual camera edits.

There's no denying that something like Periscope or Meerkat is more immediate and simplistic, but Movi takes instant streaming to a far more professional level. It'll ship in April, with a preorder price of $199 (and a final price of $399), while the Movi Pro version – complete with the Boost accessory – will be $399 during preorder, or $649 after that.