As a tech journalist who has previously reviewed both the iOgrapher and the Padcaster, I couldn’t resist doing the same with the new Rover when it was offered. Rover from Mathews is a similar yet higher priced device which reminds me of Zacuto. To test the Rover, I did my first-ever walking standups with Memo Sauceda and his iPhone 7 Plus. I used dual-system audio with three different body-mounted microphones: the RØDE HS2 headset microphone, the iRig Mic Lav from IK Multimedia and the MXL MM-160. There are short four videos ahead, one from the manufacturer, and three others.
How I discovered the Rover
The above video was supplied by the manufacturer
I first discovered the Rover when Filmtools offered to lend me one for review. For those unaware, Filmtools is a company which belongs to Moviola, which has been the parent company of ProVideo Coalition magazine (the one you are reading right now) since the beginning of 2016.
About the Rover
Both the respective manufacturers of the iOgrapher and the Padcaster describe this category of product as a “case”. Although I certainly like the products from both companies, I never really loved the term “case” to describe them, although I never came up with a better term either. Mathews Studio Equipment (the creator of Rover) calls it a “professional smartphone camera cage”. It is very high-end looking and lightweight, as well as very modular.
I applaud iOgrapher, MXL, the Padcaster and Mathews Studio Equipment for using the proper term (cold shoe). It is a pet peeve of mine when some reviewers incorrectly describe a cold shoe a hot shoe. It should only be called a hot shoe if it has electrical contacts to accomplish a particular purpose, i.e. audio connection, flash sync or power.
For comparison purposes:
- the iOgrapher for iPhone 6Plus/6s Plus contains two cold shoes.
- The Padcaster for iPad Mini 4 includes one cold shoe, but you can add more for US$29.99 each. The Padcaster’s slogan when offering an extra cold shoe is: “Grab a cold one!”
- The Rover comes with one cold shoe, although you can add more as part of the US$150 accessory kit, although it may be available separately.
Variable or fixed size for camera device?
- Most iOgrapher “cases” are molded to match the corresponding devices to the near millimeter. However, the company also offers the iOgrapher Go for GoPro/Android/iPhone, with variable size. It includes a cold shoe.
- Most Padcaster “cases” are molded to match the corresponding devices to the near millimeter. However, the company also offers the Padcaster Cage System which fits: “GoPro, DSLR or just about any small to mid-size camera out there” which includes three cold shoe adapters.
- The Rover has variable size to cover devices up to 15.62cm x 8.25cm x .76cm (6.15” x 3.25“ x .3”). Among the tested devices listed are the iPhone 5/5c/5s/6/6s/6 Plus/6s Plus/SE, 7/7 Plus. Google Pixel/Pixel XL/Samsung Galaxy S5/S6/S6/EDGE+/NOTE 5/HTC One/Nexus 5.
Photos I shot of the Rover
Three videos shot by Memo Sauceda
Memo Sauceda put his iPhone 7 Plus (Amazon link) into airplane mode and mounted it into the Rover. Likewise, I put my Google Pixel XL (Amazon link) into airplane mode. Memo shot the video with the scratch audio (for later auto synchronization in Final Cut Pro X) at 1080p ±30 fps for later conforming to 29.97p (and yes, that’s a rounded number too). (As explained in prior articles, video recording on iOS is with variable framerate, only with a target. Final Cut Pro X and Adobe Premiere CC are capable of reading this variable framerate and conforming it to the target framerate, which must be set manually when creating the project. Do not use the automatic option to set the project framerate).
In my Google Pixel XL, I recorded mono 48 kHz uncompressed WAV from each of the mentioned microphones.
Walking standup with Rover and RØDE HS2 head microphone
Walking standup with Rover and IK Multimedia iRig Mic Lav microphone
Walking standup with Rover and MXL MM-160 lavalier microphone
Thanks to Memo Sauceda for the handheld videography. I normalized all video to -16 LUFS before importing it into Final Cut Pro X, synchronizing it with video, and then muting the scratch camera audio. I used no compression or equalization. Please comment about the audio quality comparison below.
From the lowest priced and lightweight iOgrapher line of products, to the mid-priced Padcaster line, to the highest-priced Rover, they all do the job: they hold the camera device and at least one cold shoe mounted device. Starting with the Padcaster line and up to the Rover, there is more modularity to add more cold shoes, and in the case of the Rover, more MICROgrip heads and rods. The Rover also has a level of sophistication that may allow you to bill a higher amount for your projects.
Visit the main website at mseRover.com.
Visit the two Rover products at FilmTools (who lent me the review unit) by clicking here.
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