Well the slow month of January is finally about to pass us and we can start to see some actual new video games being released quickly with a few big-name titles like Final Fantasy XII-2 and Soul Calibur V. Until then I’ve got one more hardware review for you to hold you over. AVerMedia contacted me last month and told me about their new Game Capture HD device stating that I could record game footage without the use of a PC. Being that I currently use a Hauppauge HD PVR that DOES require a computer connection, I was immediately interested, so the company shipped me out a unit to review for you.
First and foremost, because the Game Capture HD does not use a computer to record the game footage, this device cannot be used to stream your games online. So if you are using an HD PVR for this purpose, you’re going to want to stay with that device. I also want to point out that during the testing of this device I upgraded the firmware to the 1.5 version which I downloaded from the companies website and installed to the device using a USB memory stick.
The Game Capture HD can record snapshots and video at resolutions ranging from 480i up to 1080i. For all intensive purposes with online video though, I would only recommend using 720p to avoid the interlacing of 1080i. The device comes with a component and composite audio cable to connect between the Game Capture HD and your television, as well as a custom component cable that connects to the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and the Wii – so you won’t need to go out and purchase any additional cables if you don’t already own them. This means that it does not support an HDMI connection and thus will not record or allow you to play games at full 1080p resolution. The device lacks optical audio connections as well which means that you aren’t going to be recording the best surround either. I was able to avoid this situation and at least enjoy 7.1 surround sound while recording straight stereo audio by placing a 7.1 Sony receiver between the consoles and the Game Capture HD and using optical audio cables.
A remote control comes with the device with included batteries that actually allows you to manage your files using an interactive menu system, as well as take snapshots and record your videos all with a single press of a button. This is a big advantage of the Hauppauge HD PVR, which includes a remote that cannot be used to record game footage. The Interactive Menu allows you to modify settings like the quality of your recordings and power options, as well as actually watch all of your recordings right on your TV.
The Game Capture HD can record in 1080i on a 1Tb hard drive for between 125 and 200 hours depending on the quality and bit rate you decide upon and on a 2Tb hard drive for between 250 and 400 hours, so you can really record a TON of footage with this thing. Both NTFS and FAT32 file systems are supported as well but it’s worth noting that the device does NOT come with it’s own hard drive. The files are recorded in an AVI format with H.264 and MP3 hardware compression. The device also supports pass-thru, which allows you to play your games even when the device is turned off. The Hauppauge HD PVR does not do this
If you remove a cover plate on the bottom of the device you can actually install a 2.5” SATA Hard Drive or you can use an external USB 2.0 Hard Drive. I used a Toshiba 500gb External USB 2.0 Hard Drive for my testing and had a very positive experience overall. Over the weekend I recorded an entire 13-hour play-through of Dark Souls which only took up 61Gb on the drive at 720p resolution with the optimal 15Mbps bit rate for the best quality recording. If you’re interested in getting an idea of the quality of the video, you can head over to my other channel ZGRWhyUDead and check out the Dark Souls walk-through that I’m currently uploading daily. It’s important to note that the footage has been compressed to an MP4 format to avoid ridiculous upload times on YouTube so it doesn’t represent the exact quality of the recorded video.
For the most part the quality of the recorded video looks wonderful. I did have a few recording issues at times when fast action sequences were being displayed on the screen, the quality of the recorded video deteriorated a bit which I am guessing has to do with the speed of the USB 2.0 connection, but I can’t confirm that. This didn’t happen all the time though. The device locked up on me a few times as well that required me to completely unplug and plug it back in to get it working again.
Overall I had a great experience with AVerMedia’s new Game Capture HD. Having the ability to record game footage without the need to have a PC connected to it is huge. I really enjoyed how I could simply disconnect my external hard drive from the device and bring it to a computer in my home to start editing the footage right away. The built-in H.264 hardware compression allowed me to have ridiculous amounts of recorded game footage without worrying about a full hard drive. The fact that I can’t use this device to stream online games is a letdown, and I know will deter some of you from purchasing it. But for those of you looking to record your game footage and don’t have access to a PC close to your consoles, it’s certainly a device I would recommend, despite the few technical problems I experienced. You can pick the Game Capture HD up for about $150 online now and to me, that’s absolutely worth the price.
Product: Game Capture HD
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii
Resolutions: 480i, 480p, 576i, 576p, 720p, 1080i
Format: AVI (Codec: H.264 and MP3)
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**This product was provided to me free of charge from the manufacturer to review for you.