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The Minutiae of Mevo

Last week during my "How to Be a Hybrid Church" class, a participant shared that his church had had great success livestreaming its worship service with a Mevo camera. Someone representing another church, however, let us know in the chat that the Mevo hadn't worked for them.

Fast-forward just a few days and I found myself having a very similar conversation with my brother. He was exploring the use of a Mevo camera for his small church. Meanwhile, a longtime family friend who has managed the hybrid tech set-up for his church and tried out a Mevo device hadn't been impressed and recommended to my brother that he not pursue it.

So what's the deal with Mevo? Some people love it and others don't. But why? And what in the world is it?

The Mevo is an affordable product designed specifically for livestreaming. It works in conjunction with a smartphone or tablet and it looks nothing like a camera. It's small, cylindrical, and only three inches tall.

As I have conversations with churches daily about what it means to become an effective hybrid church, I thought a brief exploration of the pros and cons of the Mevo camera might be helpful.

The advantages of the Mevo are significant:

It's easy to use.

Because it was designed for livestreaming, it doesn't have any of the "extras" that some may find confusing if all they want to do is push their video to Facebook Live or YouTube. Its user-friendliness is key!

It's discreet.

The Mevo isn't going to distract your in-person worshippers. Its design ensures that it does its job without invading anyone's space.

It's affordable. Really affordable.

At just $399, the point made by the participant in my class who had had a positive experience with the Mevo was that one could "get a lot of Mevos" for the price of another camera I recommended. And he's absolutely right! Its accessible price point is the primary reason so many churches are exploring it as an option for hybrid worship.

It's smart.

The Mevo has a smart camera that detects people and tracks movement. You can use the app on your phone or tablet to customize shots while you're filming, too.

That all sounds exciting, doesn't it? Well, the downsides to the Mevo are fairly significant as well:

Its zoom function isn't great.

The Mevo was designed for small spaces and its zoom is digital, not optical. This means that when you zoom in on something, you can significantly reduce the quality of the stream (down to 720p).

Its resolution is quite low.

It has a very basic sensor with low resolution. From an optical perspective, most newer phones have higher recording capabilities than the Mevo. From Jonathan Boggs, founder of Parable Media, "I don't generally feel comfortable recommending something that isn't as good as what most people already have in their pocket."

It doesn't love low lighting.

Although recent improvements have been made to the Mevo, the camera still doesn't love low-light environments. In such situations, it will try to compensate with artificial light making the image grainy. (As a side note, it also isn't helpful for churches that have large windows behind the pulpit due to its limited manual control.)

It doesn't play well with others.

This is the complaint I have heard from most churches that have tried using Mevo cameras—that they don't work as part of a larger set-up. In other words, they can't easily be used in conjunction with other cameras and devices.

In my research and asking around, I came across more pros and more cons than I've shared here. I could have said a lot more, but I have come to this general conclusion:

If a church has a very limited budget and cannot access grants, has good-for-video lighting in their sanctuary, has few/no volunteers who are able and willing to help with hybrid worship tech, AND only wants to stream worship (doesn't want to use their cameras for anything else now or in the future): the Mevo is a good option.

The flexibility, sophistication, and longevity of the Mevo's technology, however, are all limited. My view is this: the Mevo is a decent right-now solution but not an effective long-term one.

Sometimes we need a right-now solution though or can't afford the long-term one. I get that. Every church has to decide what is within its reach and what meets its congregation's needs as it transitions to becoming an effective hybrid church. I hope this brief outline of the Mevo experience is helpful in making some of the decisions ahead of you.

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