Review: Roxio Game Capture HD Pro
Product: Game Capture HD Pro
Original MSRP: $149.99
The audio review for this product is available on Episode 290 of the podcast.
Because I’m somewhat of a perfectionist, I spend way too much money on equipment and technology in general. Currently, I use two different solutions from BlackMagic Design to take screenshots, record video, and stream it to the Net (depending on if I’m using the desktop or laptop to do the work). From my experience in using these devices, I had certain reservations with the Roxio Game Capture HD Pro because the technical requirements didn’t say anything about having a RAID setup for recording HD video, and because it supports USB 2.0 instead of USB 3.0.
With the devices that I use, all of the video, audio, and even screenshots are recorded in an uncompressed format, which makes the files quite large but also top-quality. Also, because the data being written is so bulky, a single hard drive (not counting SSD) isn’t fast enough to write all of the data in real-time, so I have to use what’s called a RAID array to spread the work over multiple physical drives.
So like i said, I had my reservations when I connected the Game Capture HD Pro. First, it only supports Windows, so Mac and Linux users will have to look elsewhere. That’s fine for me though, since I use Boot Camp to use Windows 7 on my new Macbook Pro.
Relevant Laptop specs:
- Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
- Core i7 at 2.7Ghz (8-core)
- 16GB RAM
- Single Hard Drive running at 7200RPM
Setup is an absolute breeze, except for the fact that they use a software key and force you to register, which is just draconian in this day and age. Once the software is installed, and the device is plugged-in, the Roxio software does a lot of the work for you, but let’s back-up a step.
Available connections on the HD Pro include both HDMI and Component in and out (the Non-pro version allows you to record at 480p, and only has Component input/output.), along with stereo RCA connectors for audio and a USB 2.0 connection. Roxio claims that you can stream and record at full 1080p, but I wouldn’t recommend it since you don’t really see a benefit on any streaming service (YouTube, Blip,Twitch etc) when compared to 720p (at least in my opinion.)
For PS3 owners, you’ll be forced to use the Component connections (this is true for ANY capture solution available), since the PS3 is fully HDCP-compliant, which forces encryption on the HDMI connection and which the HD Pro can’t decrypt. The difference in quality is negligible though, and 99% of the screenshots, streams, and recorded videos that we post are all done via component. The PS3 debug that we possess allows us to turn the HDCP encryption off for the HDMI connection, and after using it, I honestly can’t see a difference when compared to component. 360 owners can use the HDMI connections since they don’t use HDCP encryption.
So, on your PS3, run the component cables to the device, then to connect to your display, you can use either component or HDMI. Both look about the same, but some displays only have one or the other. The Roxio software is built to really simplify any of the available features of the device, so when you start the software, you’ll have two buttons in front of you, “Stream” and “Record”.
If you hit “Stream” the first time, you’ll be asked to enter your credentials for Twitch.tv (one feature they tout prominently is the HD Pro’s compatibility with Twitch.tv). Unlike other devices that force you to get an .xml file with all of your settings for your channel, everything is automatically setup for you, with only a “Quality” slider available for tweaking. To actually stream, just hit the button and start playing. Video and audio quality are surprisingly good for only using USB 2.0 to connect to the PC, but everything’s not always perfect. One thing I’ve been noticing so far is a definite lack of audio quality in streaming and recording. It’s not “bad” but it’s definitely noticeable. Like I said though, the only thing that you’ll be able to adjust is the generic “quality” slider on the dashboard. Also, a lot of what you’ll be able to do depends directly on how much bandwidth you have available for upload on your Internet connection. I would say the minimum is a 1 meg upload speed.
Unfortunately, if you want to get a bit more ambitious by using something like XSplit to add a camera or any type of effects, you’re out of luck. I tried to get XSplit working for a couple of hours, and even though it’s detected, the HD Pro just won’t allow the actual output to work with anything other than its own software. If you’re fine with only using the Roxio software though, it works quite well. I will say though, you need to do some thorough testing, especially when playing with the quality setting of the stream. In my experience, my laptop is definitely powerful enough to top everything out, but when I was running my tests, my available Internet bandwidth was shaky, making the stream unstable at higher settings. It takes patience, but when you dial it in, the quality is really top-notch.
Recording is just as easy to accomplish. When you hit the “Record” button, a new window will appear with only a few choices available. Again, you’ll be able to move a slider to adjust the “quality,” and other than that, you’ll be able to setup the default location for the videos and screenshots to be saved in. If you’re on a laptop especially, which probably has a standard laptop hard drive running at 5200RPM instead of 7200RPM, you may have stuttering in your recorded videos. Unfortunately, I can’t directly test that. Again, it’s my belief based on what I see that the video and audio compression are being handled on the device, which explains the lag when the game footage appears in the window (it’s in realtime on the display device but delayed on the PC/Laptop.) The video that’s produced is AVI-based, but can easily be be converted to AVI/WMV/MP4, and all of them work well for uploading to YouTube etc (I suggest MP4 if you can use it, as it’s a bit more universally supported). The recorded video actually looks quite good and definitely exceeds my expectations. Unfortunately and as usual, when you upload it to YouTube, their process will definitely degrade the quality on their site.
Here’s a sample video that I recorded with the Roxio Game Capture HD Pro, completely edited with the included software as well:
Screenshots are quite easy as well, except again, since there’s a lag from what you see on your display and on the PC itself, you’ll have to get used to timing when you want to snap the shot. Screenshots are made by simply hitting a button. The shots are converted and written s to the hard disk in JPG/PNG/TIFF/BMP/GIF formats (whichever you choose), and are in the native resolution that you have your console set to (in my case 1280×720 which is 720p). As you can see, the shots look pretty nice, but there is a bit of artifacting and noise. The quality is again better than I expected though, and I would have no problem using these screenshots on our website.
The package also includes software to edit and release your recorded videos, and I have to say, it’s pretty nice. They’ve done a great job at making the software easy to use, but also have added a ton of features including transitions, visual effects, and adding text and overlays. The interface is extremely well laid-out, and is quite user-friendly for any skill level. I taught myself on some pretty expensive and complex software, but what Roxio offers in this package is really good. Exporting/Encoding options are excellent as well, and even offer options to directly export and post on your YouTube channel or to Facebook.
For the price, this is a pretty nice solution for those that want to stream and/or record their gameplay in HD. Like I said, when I saw that it was *only* USB 2.0. I got pretty worried that the performance would be pretty bad. By having the external device take care of all of the compression though, the bandwidth limitation of USB 2.0 is essentially eliminated. Setup is a breeze, and the interface is very user friendly. Also, setting-up to stream on Twitch.tv is amazingly simple, and the quality is pretty good.
If you plan on buying this, make sure that you check the system requirements here:
If you have an older PC, you may only be able to take screenshots, which would make $149.99 a bit of a waste at that point. In that case, you may want to check the requirements for the Non-Pro version of the Game Capture, which retails for $99. It’s limited to 480p, but in many instances, that’s definitely enough.
This is definitely a well thought out solution for folks that aren’t very “techie” when it comes to this stuff. The price is fair, although when compared to the Thunderbolt Intensity Shuttle that I have from Blackmagic Design, it might seem a bit on the high-side in comparison (the USB 3.0 version of the Shuttle is $50 more.) But, the Shuttle is really on the high-end, and requires very new hardware, additional hardware for recording uncompressed, and requires the user to play a lot more with the settings in every aspect. For someone that just wants the functionality without worrying about the small details, the Roxio Game Capture HD Pro is a great solution if your PC/Laptop can meet the requirements.
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