Divoom Pixoo Backpack: Light Up The World (with Pixel Art)
The perfect portable pixel art display is also a spacious and well designed splash-proof backpack. You'll need to provide your own battery pack, but we suspect you've got one in the drawer anyway.
Need to broadcast your love of retro pixel art while out and about? Then there’s probably no better way to do it than strapping an enormous LED display to your back. Normally I’d tell you this is impractical, but apparently not anymore: say hello to the Pixoo Backpack, from the masters of pixel art, Divoom.
Luckily it’s not just an awesome pixel display–it’s also a rather nifty backpack. Join us as we take a closer look at the Divoom Pixoo Backpack–and at the end of this review, we’ve got another one to give away to one lucky reader.
Pixoo Backpack Specifications
- 10.8 x 5.9 x 15.1 inches (275 x 150 x 385mm)
- Made from polyester fiber, cross-linked polyethylene, EVA, and XPE
- Two-tone grey and black design
- 16×16 pixel 9.44 inch (240mm) square display
- 2-10W power draw depending on the animation
- No battery supplied
The Pixoo backpack is spacious, with more than enough room for a typical laptop and a large textbook or three. You’ll find one side of the interior lined with loose pockets and a flask holder, with the other housing a slim laptop pocket. On the side is rubber grommet for headphone cable to enter; while the side that lies against your back contains a further zipped pocket for storing valuables. Another zipped storage pouch can be accessed from the side, for less secure but easier access tickets and such. A luggage strap or “trolley sleeve” is provided on the rear for easy attachment to your suitcase when traveling.
In short: as far as backpacks go, this has all the storage features you could want.
It’s also splashproof, though not entirely waterproof so it cannot be submerged. The zip is protected, ensuring the contents remain dry during wet spells.
Out of the box, if you’re wondering how to turn it on… you don’t. There’s no internal battery. Instead, you’ll just find a short USB cable in the bottom right pocket. It’s attached to the bag itself, so don’t try to pull it out completely. You’ll need to find any old battery pack to power this. You might be thinking it’s a bit off to not include something built-in to the backpack itself; I’d argue it’s actually better this way. Not only will the backpack last longer because batteries are the first thing to degrade over time, but you’ll also likely have an old battery pack in a drawer somewhere that you can put to use. Divoom says the only requirement is that it can output 2A. Reduce your amount of e-waste by reusing old batteries!
We’ll address the expected battery life later in this review.
The Pixel Display
The rear of the backpack is covered with highly reflective grey material; it’s this that disguises the large 16×16 pixel display underneath. When not powered on, you’d be none-the-wiser. Running your fingers over the backpack will reveal a slightly bumpy texture, but otherwise, nothing betrays the fact that this bag can actually light up.
Sadly, the reflective material means the display isn’t visible at all in bright, direct sunlight.
In the shadows or overcast (ie. British) weather, it’s certainly visible, but with a relatively small viewing angle.
Indoors, in low-light, or at night, the Pixoo backpack truly comes to life.
The Divoom App
Like all Divoom products (of which we’ve reviewed the Tivoo Max speaker and cute little Ditoo display ), the Pixoo backpack uses the Divoom app extensively. The backpack will turn on and automatically play whatever is held in memory without requiring the app, but if you want to adjust the display, change the mode, or use anything interactive, you will need the app.
Thankfully, the pairing process is reliable, simple, and need only be done once. But if you have multiple Divoom devices, you will need to select only one at a time–you can’t simultaneously push animations to everything at once.
The primary feature of the Divoom app is a community hub to discover incredible pixel art, both static and animated, all of which can be downloaded for free, saved on your Pixoo backpack, or just favorited on your smartphone for later. There’s a huge archive available, with new animations constantly being added. Search and you’ll find your heart’s desire.
If you’re the creative type, you’ll also find it easy to design your own animations, and can submit them to regular competitions (with real prizes in the form of more Divoom hardware!).
In addition, there are some easily overlooked games and special features, such as a basic version of Tetris that plays on the Pixoo backpack and is controlled from your phone; a countdown timer; and a scoreboard app. You can amuse yourself for a few minutes with them, but it’s really the pixel art that you’re here for.
Since no battery is supplied, your battery life will depend mainly on the size of the battery you power it from. But it’ll also vary depending on your choice of animation; more white pixels will use more power. During testing I found anywhere from 2 to 10W of power was drawn.
For a rough calculation, let’s assume you’re using a 10,000mAh battery pack–this is a common size, while still being small and lightweight. Running at 5V (the standard for most USB ports), a 10,000mAh battery stores 50Wh (watt-hours) of total power. To work out the total battery life, simply divide this number by the power you’re drawing. For a simple animation with only a small amount of pixels lit up at any time, 50Wh / 2W = 25 hours. For animations with greater screen coverage, this may be as high as 10W; 50Wh / 10W = 5 hours. So from a 10,000mAh USB battery pack, you can expect anywhere from 5 to 25 hours of usage.
This lines up with my testing; I left a large poop emoji animation running from lunchtime, and it ran all day plus some of night–about 12-16 hours, given I was asleep when it finally turned off.
In reality, a full battery pack is likely to last for your entire event, and then some. Whether you’re dancing the night away or roaming the streets, you’ll likely collapse well before the Pixoo backpack powers off.
Do You Need a Pixel Art Backpack?
If you’re in the market for a new backpack anyway, the Divoom Pixoo Backpack is spacious, organized, and sure to get you noticed. You could broadcast a message, show off your own pixel designs, or offer your back for corporate sponsorship in our new dystopian society. Or just to display a poop emoji. Whatever, we’re not judging.
If you regularly ride at night (perhaps on your Kugoo ES2 electric scooter ), a large flashing red warning sign on your back could be genuinely useful. I wouldn’t suggest anything too flashy though, or you might conversely find drivers swerving into you.
For the rest of us, we’re probably better off with a nice Pixoo framed art display to put on the wall.