The Swivl is basically an IR tracking unit. The user wears the marker and the base unit tracks the IR signal produced by the marker. The base unit can be mounted on a tripod via the universal mounting screw on the bottom of the base unit. The base unit also has four rubberized feet for a firm grip on any classroom surface. The unit is able to swivel (get the name) 360 degrees and has the ability to tilt 25 degrees. The Swivl web site says it has a 30 ft range. I have found that claim to be conservative based upon my use of the Swivl in my class. The Swivl also has a rechargeable battery and can run without external power for about five hours, thus far in my use this claim has also proven itself to be accurate. I must admit though I keep my base unit plugged it in my classroom, and the run time limitation is based solely upon the marker's battery.
The Swivl can mount any OS device I have tried including: an iPhone 4, iPhone 5, iPhone 6 plus, iPad Mini as well as the iPad Air 1 and 2. So the base unit can accommodate any tablet or phone a user may have. There is also a way to mount a DSLR or traditional video camera, but it will require an additional adapter which cost an extra $49.
The Swivl robot is only half of the equation, there is also a companion app that is specifically designed for recording via OS devices. There is also an Android app, but I have never used it. The Swivl app allows a user to set the record quality, tilt, and microphone source. The app also gives the user access to the Swivl cloud service. This service allows the user to save the video onto a platform that is accessible to anyone that the user invites. The cloud service also allows the user to upload slides to the video presentation. This is particularly useful for those people using Keynote to support their lectures and presentations. The free basic package of cloud storage allows unlimited uploads, but a limit of 200 minutes of storage. If you want more storage space the web site offers several different subscription options. I recommend checking out the web site for all of the details. (www.swivl.com) If you don’t want to store your video on the cloud the app will also output your video to your photos on the recording OS device.
I have owned my Swivl since May and I have been very impressed with the robot/app combination. The tracking ability of the robot is excellent. It keeps up with me as I move around the classrooms with no problems. When I turn away from the unit it does momentarily lose its lock and stays focused at the last point the marker was located, but it reacquires quickly once the IR signal is re-established. The sound quality from the Bluetooth mic is excellent. I have always hated the acoustics of the classroom when recording videos the room either sounded like an echo chamber, or muffled and unclear. This mic reproduces my voice clearly with little or no distortion.
I also have to give a big thumbs up to the Swivl support service. My marker developed a problem and would not charge. I emailed the company, and they fixed the problem. Initially, a very pleasant woman gave me some advice on how to fix the problem, when those suggestions did not work, the company replaced the tracker. I respect a company that stands by its product, and this type of support inspires my loyalty to a brand. Nice work.
The uses of the Swivl are limited by the imagination of the user. I have recorded classes. I have taken this device to conferences to record presentations (I then had to give an impromptu presentation on the Swivl itself, because the other educators in the room found the devices unspeakable cool.) I have also used this to record class discussions by passing the tracker student to student. I have used my Swivl a great deal, and I feel like I have only just started to discover the potential uses of my Swivl. In short, if you need to record anything, the Swivl can do it, and do it well.
What you get:
The Swivl is not cheap. Starting price is $399 for the robot, marker, lanyard, and phone/tablet grip adaptors as well as the lowest level of cloud support. This a bit expensive for the average classroom teacher. The question you should consider before purchasing this device is will you use it enough t justify the cost. I do. I have not regretted the purchase at all. The device is solidly built and the support is excellent. Which makes the price a little easier to accept. I have never opposed buying quality. I wish I didn’t have to pay an extra $49 dollars for a carrying case, but it is necessity so make it a part of your initial purchase. I was able to purchase one from Amazon for $39. I love the Swivl, if you use it, you will too.
Official Swivl website: www.swivel.com