Our verdict of the Divoom Tivoo Max:
The Tivoo Max is a gorgeous pixel display and great bassy speaker, with a wide selection of features and massive library of pixel art–all wrapped up in a chic retro TV package. It’ll look fantastic no matter where you put it, and add a little magic to your room.
Pixels are making a serious comeback. Perhaps we’re just sick of the ultra clarity of real life, and yearn for the days when 256 dots were all you needed to make a convincing character. Whether you’re a child of the 80s or just love the retro appeal of pixel art, Divoom has the perfect desktop toy for you. The Tivoo Max is a gorgeous portable LED pixel display with built-in 40W Bluetooth speaker, all packaged in the style of an old CRT television.
It looks stunning and doesn’t sound half-bad either. With a huge library of pixel art, an army of artists, and a feature set that blows away any imitators, the Tivoo Max is a versatile device that would add a little magic to your desktop, bedside table, or shelf.
Join us as we take a closer look, and at the end of this review, we’ve got another one to give away to one lucky reader.
The Tivoo Max is available direct from Divoom, or on Amazon, for under $200.
Design and Durability
With a hefty bass speaker and 10,000mAh internal battery, the Tivoo Max weighs in at just under 1.5kg (or just over 3 pounds). That’s heavy enough that it’s uncomfortable to hold in one hand for long. This also means that you’ll do some serious damage to the case or front panel if you drop it.
So despite technically being portable, we wouldn’t suggest taking this out and about for partying. It’s really designed to sit on display and just look stunning.
The pixel display itself is a 140mm square, and the whole Tivoo stands at 185mm tall, 160mm wide, and 86mm deep. Four chrome feet sit on the base, with a chrome dial and button on the side, and four capacitive controls on top for volume, play, and alarm. The main body comes in red (as reviewed), white, or black.
As a Pixel Display
The main function of the Tivoo Max is a bright, customizable 16×16 pixel display. The Divoom app features a huge library of art, and you can save up 12 animations or pictures directly to the Tivoo on a custom favorites channel. Your chosen favorites will just play in rotation.
Turning the dial on the side selects other channels or features as configured from the app.
There’s a couple of pre-made “cloud channels” too: seasonal, hot, and cool. These appear to be selections of top or topical content drawn from the library, and I’d assume they update over time.
You can of course also create your own static pictures, animations, or text messages to be displayed on the Tivoo.
If you fancy yourself as a retro art creator, upload your work and you could earn points. And what do points mean? Prizes! Points can be exchanged for Divoom hardware products, so the best creators are rewarded with more than just internet karma. There are also monthly competitions to submit your pixel art creations, again, with real hardware prizes.
Or you can just download the hard work of others. There’s no shame in not being a creator! Divoom has been around a while, so there’s a lot to choose from.
As a Speaker
Featuring dual 10W speakers for stereo sound, plus a 20W subwoofer, the audio quality from the Tivoo Max is surprisingly good. It’s easily better than your Amazon Echo, but not quite as good as a Sonos One. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with the sound at this price point, that’s for sure. You can hear a sample in the review video.
There’s a visualizer channel too, so if you have audio playing through Bluetooth or the local SD card, you’ll get a selection of music-reactive animations to choose from. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to work with ambient audio, so if your music is coming from elsewhere, the visualizer will remain static.
The only slightly annoying quirk I found with the Tivoo was that as the primary purpose is to be a display, it was left on most of the time. This meant I had to micromanage the Bluetooth audio connection. With most Bluetooth speakers, you’d only turn them on when you actually want to use them, so the automatic connection is a time saver. With the Tivoo, you may need to turn your Bluetooth off if you don’t want it randomly redirecting your audio when you walk near.
While not truly being a smart speaker, in that there’s no Alexa or Google Home connectivity, the Tivoo Max can nonetheless run a selection of “apps”. Most of these actually run on your phone while using the LED display for visual output. At current count:
- A basic version of Tetris and Breakout, played a little awkwardly using the dial on the side.
- Magic 8-ball, and a dice roller.
- A Slot machine, where you can win actual Divoom points.
- Clock, alarm, weather, date display etc (these don’t require your phone).
- Daily planner, which alerts you at certain times of the day (also doesn’t need your phone).
- Stopwatch and countdown timer.
- Sleep timer with built-in white noise samples and night light.
- Volume meter.
- “DJ Mixer”, which is a collection of sound samples (bass, synth and vocal loops etc) with corresponding reactive pixel art.
You can also configure notifications of social alerts from your phone, though these consist of a large social icon flashing on the screen, and don’t actually read your messages. I’m not sure we need any hints to direct our diminishing attention to a phone screen, but it’s there if you want.
There’s lot of amusing distractions then, and apps that will prove more useful in different situations. As a desktop gadget, the daily planner would be great. For instance, I understand it’s all the rage now to have hourly alerts telling you to drink water, among those whose sense of thirst is broken. As a bedside clock, the sleep timer is obviously useful. And I’m sure you could amuse your nephew or niece for literally minutes with the games (while recounting stories of how computers used to be).
But most of us will probably just ignore these features, and use it as a nice speaker and incredibly good looking pixel display.
Should You Buy a Tivoo Max?
The Tivoo Max is a gorgeous and versatile device with features that suit various tasks around the home. Buut a large chunk of the price comes from the hefty built-in speaker. If you’re purely looking for a portable Bluetooth speaker, this probably isn’t it. You’re probably seeking something a little more durable, that you can carry around and won’t destroy by dropping it. Take a look at the UE Boom series if you’re not particularly invested in the idea of having a music reactive pixel display attached to your speaker.
On the other hand, if you’re really keen on a pixel display but don’t particularly need the speaker element, check out the Divoom Pixoo instead. It’s a lot cheaper (around $50), and the display is actually slightly larger.
However, if you’re after a magical desktop gadget or art piece for your home–which also happens to be a rather great-sounding Bluetooth speaker–the Tivoo Max is perfect. It’s the best sounding device in Divoom’s extensive range, but there are other options to suit every price point and feature set. Divoom are also currently running an IndieGogo campaign for their latest design, the Ditoo (review coming soon!)