Hands-on review: Obsbot Me AI-powered mobile phone mount
The Obsbot Me is an independently controlled portable mobile phone mount that can track its target without the need for software or a connection to a phone.
Opening the box, you are presented with a black leather-look clamshell case and an envelope containing the surprisingly comprehensive multi-language user manual. Opening the zip on the case reveals the mount, the detachable base/grip, and a USB charging cable.
The device works completely independently from your phone. There are no wires, connections, or software to mess about with. The only wire included is a USB Type-C to USB Type-A that is used for charging.
Setting up is easy. The Obsbot Me comes folded up in the case, which just needs the mounting arm twisted up and clicked into place. The phone mounting arm can also be twisted around if the phone's rear camera is to be used.
The Obsbot Me is affixed to the base unit using a standard ¼" mount that can also be used to screw it onto a tripod if required. The base unit can be used either with legs unfolded to support the device or folded for handheld use.
The phone is held in place by a spring-loaded clip, which can be twisted for portrait or landscape (and anything in between). The mount doesn't offer much in the way of vertical tilt, so your subject needs to be about level with the phone for optimal use. Any fancy shots will probably need the use of a tripod with a bit more room for adjustment.
The back of the phone mount has a screw that can be tightened using a coin to stop the phone mount from spinning. The review sample still had a little bit of play due to the joint being a bit loose. Pulling off the glued foam on the phone mount exposed a screw that, once tightened right up, solved this issue.
With the phone in position, the device is switched on via a button at the front. There are two methods for initialising tracking. The first, useful if your target is a friend or yourself, is to simply raise your right hand as if you are about to wave at the device. The light ring around the body of the Obsbot Me will turn blue to confirm that it is tracking. Raising your hand again will disengage the tracking. The other method is just to press the button on the front of the device once it's already switched on. The light will either turn blue (confirming it is tracking) or flash blue, indicating that it is trying to locate a target.
Despite my scepticism, I was pleasantly surprised at just how easy the Obsbot Me can not only find its target but also track it. Even doing my best to lose the tracking, the device kept me in the frame. The device can track an object through a full 360 degrees. The motion is also pretty smooth, perhaps not to production quality, or even to the standard of a consumer drone, but more than enough for streaming video or chats.
The Obsbot Me does a great job of tracking objects for your phone videos. But also, it's worth noting what the device doesn't do.
A lot of the Obsbot Me's ease of use comes from the fact that it does not interface with your phone, but this also means that you will have to control your phone as you normally would. The sole button on the Obsbot Me is for switching the device on/off and engaging/disengaging the tracking function; it can't be used to take pictures or start recording video.
The device only tracks objects; it doesn't have a gimble offering a "Steadicam" function like you get with a drone. You are also at the mercy of the device in its framing of your target. A fast-moving target results in fast-moving tracking, which, if erratic, may look a bit jarring on your video. If you want more advanced camera tracking and stabilisation functions, you are looking at a device like the much more expensive DJI Osmo Pocket range.
The above, though, is a small price to pay for a device that can be quickly set up without fuss. And what the Obsbot Me can do, it does very well.
For video selfies and chats using your mobile phone, the Obsbot Me offers tremendous value for money. It's easy to set up and use. It's also very portable. Providing your phone microphone is up to the job, you could easily utilise the device for a remote presentation or demonstration. If you are after a phone mount for video recording or even a selfie stick, you should check out the Obsbot Me.