www.makeuseof.com Rode Vlogger Review: Is It Really Worth $150?
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A top-of-the-line vlogging kit for those who are serious about vlogging or making movies on a smartphone. This kit includes the Rode VideoMic Me-L microphone and several accessories that make it easy to film on the go. With the MicroLED light, light filters, and DeadCat wind filter, you can film and record anywhere you feel creative.SpecificationsProsConsBuy This Product Rode iVlogger VideoMic Me-LShop at Amazon
The Rode Vlogger makes it easy to upgrade your smartphone recording experience for YouTube, TikTok, and vlogging. But at a price point of $150, is it worth it? After all, there are cheaper vlogging kits on the market. But, other kits don’t have the name recognition that Rode has.
Note: there's a separate iOS and USB-C version of the Rode Vlogger—we reviewed the iOS version.
What's in the Box?
The Rode Vlogger Kit comes with several accessories that work together to make a handheld vlogging device.
Related: How to Start Vlogging: Tips for Absolute Beginners
The first accessory and the main attraction is the Rode microphone. Rode makes high-quality microphones for cameras, and its specialized iOS microphone plugs directly into your iPhone.
Next up, we have the MicroLED light that attaches to the top of the kit. This light comes with a charging cable and seven color filters. These colors are red, blue, yellow, dark green, light green, dark orange, and light orange. It also comes with a white light dimmer, which is great if you need to make the light less intense.
While the microphone attaches to your iPhone, your iPhone and the MicroLED light attach to the tripod. The tripod comes in two pieces and has a gimbal tripod head. The tripod is a handheld tripod but also folds out to stand on its own.MAKEUSEOF VIDEO OF THE DAY
The top piece that connects to the MicroLED light and holds your iPhone can attach to any other tripod. This gives you options if you want a more stable tripod but still want to keep the accessories connected.
One surprise was that the kit also came with a "dead cat", which is a microphone windshield. This is something that wasn’t advertised in the listing. The windshield attaches to your microphone to reduce wind noise when recording outside.
Setting Up the Rode Vlogger Kit
While the Rode Vlogger Kit came with a detailed instructions sheet, it wasn’t needed. Setup is easy and takes under three minutes.
The setup included screwing the top tripod piece onto the gimbal head and adding your iPhone, microphone, MicroLED light, and the windshield.
Everything is self-explanatory and the only difficult part of the setup was the MicroLED light. The MicroLED light was flimsy at first and didn’t seem to tighten correctly. However, two screws appear to be one but actually separate. Use one to tighten the top to make it more stable.
If you do need a setup guide and don’t have one, you can download an official guide on the Rode website.
Rode VideoMic Me
The microphone included in the Rode Vlogger kit is the VideoMic Me-L, the iOS version of Rode's popular mobile microphones. These microphones sell for more than half of the cost of the vlogging kit alone, so it’s the most important accessory in the kit.
Related: Rode Wireless Go II Review: More than an Upgrade, It's a Game-Changer
The microphone connects to your iPhone in the lightning port, and can be positioned for either front or rear-facing recordings.
At first use, it appeared that the microphone was bent slightly inwards. However, that wasn’t the case. The Rode microphone has a slight angle so the microphone points towards you when you’re speaking. The microphone also has a headphone jack, so if you’re recording other subjects you can monitor the audio.
Of course, the most important test is the audio test. After all, if the audio quality isn’t much different from your iPhone then the price of this kit wouldn’t be worth it.
Thankfully, upon testing the audio quality, there is a clear difference. While the difference isn’t completely overwhelming, it does make the audio sound more clear and engaging. Voices sound more natural and more like the user’s real voice. This, coupled with the directional microphone angle, make this microphone an exceptional upgrade over the built-in mic.
The MicroLED light at the top of the kit makes it easy to light up the subject when filming in a dark room. It also works for balancing colors when the surrounding lighting isn’t the shade you want.
The MicroLED light has four brightness settings. Without the color filters or dimmers, the light is bright enough to illuminate you and your surroundings when filming in the dark. It’s so bright that if you’re filming towards yourself it might be distracting as all you’ll see is the lights.
The natural color of the light is cooler and isn’t too appealing. It’s similar to fluorescent lighting. It would be very useful in darker settings, but not if you’re trying to balance color when filming in an already lit area.
Related: Backdrop Ideas to Try for Your Next Vlog
Luckily, there are plenty of filters that can help you change and balance color. The yellow filter works great for creating warm light tones, and the blue for cooler light tones. The dimmer also works great if you find the light too bright.
The MicroLED light has a battery power indicator which is a pleasant surprise. Similar devices only let you know when the battery is low, which is often too late.
As previously mentioned, the inclusion of a windshield was a surprise as the listing didn’t mention it, so given that, I wasn't expecting the quality to great either. After all, it did feel like a freebie that was just thrown into the box.
Yet, the quality of the windshield was exceptional. You can certainly use this to record outside and still get near-professional audio when the wind passes through. The windshield also fits the Rode microphone perfectly, so you won’t have to worry about it blowing off. You can even run with it and it still won’t slip off.
Gimbal Tripod Head
The sales page indicates a "gimbal" tripod head, which might be a bit misleading as a gimbal head is usually considered to be a stabilizing head that cancels camera motions. This isn't: it’s just a generic head that can be rotated. The tripod itself can be folded up for easy handheld use, or unfolded for use on a flat surface.
Even though some might expect more by seeing the word gimbal, it’s still a good mini tripod head. It can rotate up 90 degrees so you can film with your phone upright—perfect for TikTok and Instagram Live.
Unfortunately, the tripod doesn’t stand up on its own when it’s in 90-degree mode as the phone makes it too top-heavy. You will need to hold it if you plan to shoot at 90 degrees.
How Does the Rode Vlogger Kit Compare to Its Competitors?
The Rode Vlogger Kit isn’t the only vlogging kit on the market. There are tons of alternatives, some as cheap as $40. It can also be hard to compete with a selfie stick if you’re not concerned about audio quality, as those run for $20 or less
While there are cheaper competitors on the market, the Rode microphone is the best quality microphone you can get for your smartphone. Many other vlogging kits seem to offer cheap or no-brand mics that won’t have the same quality as a Rode mic.
The closest competitor in terms of microphone quality would be the Movo iVlogger Kit, which sells for $100. The Movo kit comes with a MicroLED light and a microphone, but no light filters. It also doesn’t come with a windshield, though it does include a pop filter. One other significant difference is that the Movo iVlogger Kit has a carrying case that perfectly fits all of your gear. The only downside with the Movo kit is that the mic connects to your lightning port through an adapter. Meaning it doesn’t have a dedicated lightning port and could lead to reduced audio quality.
Rode Vlogger Kit Reparability & Warranty
The Rode Vlogger Kit has several different parts, all of which might need repair if something goes wrong. Luckily, Rode offers a one-year manufactured warranty for all pieces in this kit. If any part breaks, you can contact Rode for a repair or replacement.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that you’ll be able to repair any of the components yourself as parts aren’t available for sale individually. If your warranty is expired though, you can always buy a component of the kit from Rode to avoid purchasing a new kit.
As for the durability of the kit, every part seems to be pretty solid for the most part. The tripod, while made of plastic, has pretty thick parts so it would be difficult to break. The MicroLED light is also solid and has a raised bar around the lens to avoid damage if it hits something.
However, there is one exception and sadly, it’s the microphone. The microphone lightning port seems flimsy and with it already being at a slight angle, can easily break if you aren’t careful. In fact, this seems to be the most common complaint.
Should You Buy the Rode Vlogger Kit?
The Rode Vlogger Kit is an incredibly handy device and it gives you the tools to make professional videos at home. While the iPhone camera shoots exceptional quality visuals, the sound recording isn’t great. Shooting a quality video also requires quality lighting.
With the Rode Vlogger Kit, you can make these improvements to your smartphone with one purchase. While the $150 price point is a bit much, the closest competitors don’t have the name recognition Rode has. If you need a cheap vlogging kit, this one might not be for you as there are plenty of cheaper kits that have the same accessories.
However, if you want a top-of-the-line vlogging kit for your iPhone, then the Rode Vlogger Kit is the way to go. This kit would be for those who seriously want to make and edit movies with their iPhone. If you’re a beginner and don’t know if you’ll like vlogging but want to give it a try, maybe go with a cheaper alternative first.
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Joe is a former web designer and current entrepreneur and freelance writer. He is passionate about making technology accessible for everyone. When not writing for MakeUseOf, he can be found skateboarding, hiking, and attending graduate school.MoreFrom Joe Cason
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