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Turn your iPhone into a Monitor – Accsoon SeeMo HDMI Adapter – Review

October 25th, 2022 Jump to Comment Section 17

Accsoon has recently launched an interesting new product that can turn your iPhone or iPad into an amazing preview monitor (and even recorder) for your camera. We already have the new Accsoon SeeMo HDMI adapter in-house at our headquarters in Vienna. Of course, we took a closer look at it in this video.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I have been wondering about this for years: All of us are almost always carrying smartphones with super-high-quality screens in our pockets, but we can’t use them as preview monitors for our professional cameras.

The few existing solutions so far were cumbersome, with a lot of lag and often inconsistent performance that made them barely useable for professional work.

In comes Accsoon with their new SeeMo adapter, and changes the game completely (read our initial coverage here). For the first time ever, we are capable to get a video signal via HDMI into an iPhone or iPad.

Accsoon SeeMo HDMI Adapter
Image credit: Accsoon

Accsoon SeeMo HDMI Adapter

Here’s how it works: This tiny device connects to your iPhone using a custom Lightning-to-USB-C cable, and it connects to your camera simply via its HDMI input. You power it with a Sony-style NP-F battery, switch it on, and start the Accsoon SEE app (Apple App Store), and the image will show up within seconds. Super simple and it works very reliably.

Accsoon SeeMo
The Accsoon SeeMo workflow. Image credit: Accsoon

One of the most important and practical things: since Accsoon somehow managed to get the video signal via a cable connection into the phone, the lag is surprisingly low. This delay is definitely low enough to be able to use your mobile phone as a monitor to pull focus from.

I didn’t make a scientifically measured comparison, but while the Atomos Ninja V recorder has slightly less lag, the Accsoon SeeMo is not that much worse. So it really does feel like using a proper monitor.

Accsoon SeeMo
image credit: CineD

Accsoon SEE app

And that is also because Accsoon did a great job with their app – it’s fully featured and has almost all the bells and whistles you expect from a professional monitor. There’s focus peaking, waveforms, anamorphic de-squeeze, pinch to zoom, and even external preview LUTs can be loaded into the app. A lot of LUTs for different log types for different manufacturers are already built-in.

Now, there are limits, of course – the image we get is only 1080 with up to 60 frames per second. This means that the pinch in magnification is not that useful as you are zooming into a 1080 image, not the 4K or whatever higher resolution your camera is recording. So the camera’s punch-in is a lot more useful still.

Accsoon SeeMo
Accsoon SEE app. Image credit: CineD

The app’s navigation is simple and straightforward, there is just one practical problem: when swiping across the toolbar, you can accidentally end up going to the home screen or swiping between apps. An easy solution would be to move that toolbar onto the top of the screen and swap it with the toolbar that is currently there. I really hope they can implement this in an app update in the near future.

On top of the monitoring features, there is also a recording feature built into the Accsoon See app that powers their SeeMo device. This is definitely not replacing professional recorder monitors, however, but it’s a nice add-on tool for a monitor if you need to quickly grab a video from your camera to work with on your phone or send it to someone. When the Accsoon SeeMo records video, it can only do so, of course, at 1080p resolution. It’s also limited to 8bit and a maximum of 30MBit/s.

Accsoon SeeMo HDMI Adapter
Image credit: Accsoon

I think this feature would be absolutely amazing to generate proxies on the fly if it could use some of the camera’s metadata, like for example the file name and time code, but also have a record trigger from the camera. That is currently not the case, but I heard that they might be working on something like this.

Let’s hope it will be possible – nothing would be more convenient than having automatic proxies being generated and saved to your iPhone while you are using it as a preview monitor. This could help massively with editing speed by simply airdropping all proxy files from a shoot to an editor from an iPhone, before on-lining the edit with the original files for finalizing an edit.

Accsoon SeeMo
Launching the Accsoon SEE app. Image credit: CineD

On top of monitoring and recording, there is also a way to stream directly from the app. Hugely useful, of course – because this basically makes all cameras with an HDMI port live-streaming-capable. You will have to use stream keys for various platforms like YouTube and Facebook, so it’s not all automatic, but it’s simply great to have this option. That means one more function we don’t need a dedicated app or even an additional hardware device for.

Hardware

Let’s take a brief look at the hardware itself: The SeeMo device itself is tiny, it’s actually just a small box – which really makes me wonder if it can be put in a cable in the future. You can take it off the phone mounting bracket and also use it separately or put it elsewhere on your rig.

The box itself has no 1/4″-20 mounting point at the bottom or anywhere else, which means you’ll need to velcro it if you use it without the phone mounting bracket. Only the phone bracket itself has a 1/4″-20 mount at the bottom, with an additional shoe mount on top which allows for attaching a microphone, if you put this on top of your camera.

Accsoon SeeMo
Operating the Accsoon SeeMo app. Image credit: CineD

The build quality isn’t anything to write home about – it’s fully plastic, and I think people must take good care of the SeeMo to make this last for a long time. It does feel relatively solid, though, but I definitely wouldn’t want this to drop on the floor from a tripod level.

There is also a power-out option with 5 Volts, which is nice to have, but too low to power the camera itself. Unfortunately, the iPhone cannot be charged through the Lightning cable, which is a downside as you are draining your phone battery fast when using it as a monitor. I hope this is something that can be added with a firmware update, as I can see this being an issue, particularly when using older phones with a battery that isn’t great.

Phones vs. monitors

Talking about older iPhones – of course, the SeeMo not only turns a phone into a monitor – but it also turns a camera …into a phone! Joking aside, you should consider using a separate iPhone on the SeeMo if you want to seriously work with this as a monitor.

Accsoon SeeMo HDMI Adapter
Accsoon SeeMo attaching to the included phone bracket. Image credit: Accsoon

Because incoming calls or messages are very impractical and quite distracting when the iPhone is attached to the camera. A lot of people still have some older generation iPhones lying around that they can use with this device, and it might make more sense to do that. But of course, that’s up to you and depends heavily on how much you need your phone otherwise while you are shooting.

Conclusion

In my opinion, the Accsoon SeeMo is a great little invention and will definitely live in my gear bag for any future shoots, especially when I need to pack lightly. It’s priced at $179 – not a lot of money, but of course enough to buy you a super cheap knock-off monitor… which however will not have a screen as good as your phone at that price point, nor will it have any recording or streaming capabilities.

The SeeMo could be a great indicator of new, innovative things coming our way and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see this capability inside a simple cable at a point not too distant in the future.

Link: Accsoon website

What do you think? Would such a device find its way into your gear bag? Share your experiences in the comments below!

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