05.15.20 - UPDATE - The Roland GO:LIVECAST app now allows you to broadcast to your FB pages, not just your profile. Big difference, and now it's got all the functionality we had hoped for.
When we saw the new Roland GO:LIVECAST unit back in January at NAMM, we were pretty excited about it. The unit itself was lightweight, looked reasonably simple to operate, and seemed like it could level up live streaming with your essential mobile gear like smartphones and tablets.
We finally got a unit for review and got all set to use it at this year's Winter Music Conference. Then boom - the Corona Virus pandemic hit, and everything went on lockdown. We are finally getting the chance to open up the box and take it for a real spin, so here are our thoughts.
Construction/Design - For $250, it seems a little flimsy now that we have had some time to engage with it a bit more. The all-plastic construction does make for a light piece of gear, so that's the one plus with the build quality, it just seems like it should be closer to $150 for what you are getting.
Build quality aside, the overall design is user friendly with two knobs and ten buttons to implement functions like music drops, image overlays, camera switch, etc. If you have even a basic understanding of live streaming, know how this device won't take too long to get dialed in.
Functionality - The unit works in conjunction with an app that allows you to type in text overlays, drop-in pictures/videos, and get your live stream service set up. The unit itself will enable you to plug in an external mic and sound source like a music player, keyboard, etc. and features a headphone out so you can monitor yourself.
The unit has a 5V power input that can be run off an outlet or via a portable battery. This is ok, but it's designed for mobile users? Why it didn't come with an onboard chargeable battery, makes no sense. The need for an external battery just makes things more clunky then they need to be when you already have wires out to your phone, headphones, and any inputs you might be using. What's worse is the USB charging cable they give you is only a foot long or so, which makes it very difficult to use if you need a power outlet.
Overall, while a bit clunky, the device will get the job done and is compact enough to port around with you. The fact that you can up the level of production with two cameras (via smartphone or tablets), an external mic, sound effects, text overlays, and live cuts to images and video makes it a game-changer for hobbyists. This is by no means a pro rig, but it's decent enough for vloggers, bloggers, and indie content creators who are looking to take the next step with their live stream content.
Functions with: FB Live (limited), Youtube, Twitch and others...
See UPDATE at top - this has been fixed. WARNING - A significant issue with the GO:LIVECAST app is that it does not let you stream to a business/fan profile page on Facebook, only a personal profile. Another big fail out of the box, but hopefully something they can remedy with an app update. So if you are someone that is trying to build a brand or a business with FB Live content, you might hold off until this issue is sorted out.
We are excited to see the evolution of these types of products and think this type of tech will only get better in the years to come. Roland did an ok job, but for us, the unit's lack of FB Live business/fan page functionality, build quality, and external power needs make it hard to recommend for the price tag.
You might try some other solutions like Ecamm with your laptop and some external web cameras if you are looking for an inexpensive solution for more pro looking content.