Not that long ago, if you wanted to do something as daring as record your videogame footage you’d need an insanely powerful PC, stacks of spare hard drives for storage (probably configured in a complex tiered RAID configuration) the actual capture device itself which was usually an internal card in your PC and enough cables and adapters to connect everything together. Leaving you with a somewhat degraded signal through miles of cables, a card which would probably be prone to overheating after a short while and a file which would weigh in at roughly a gigabyte per minute of footage.
Then something strange happened in the technology sector, we seemed to master the dark and mystical arts of video encoding, we managed to harness the use of HDMI output through current generation games consoles and suddenly video capture was, whilst not exactly cheap, much more accessible to the average consumer and no longer the bespoke realm of video professionals and high level games journalists. Now, anyone could produce high quality video with brands like Hauppauge.
Hauppauge started life in the early 90’s creating motherboards so it’s obvious that they have been around computers for a while. They are mostly known for their line of WinTV television tuner cards for PC’s but have recently made the move into the gameplay capture market.
Of course this isn’t Hauppauge’s first time in this particular dance, they have previously released the Colossus, the HD PVR (including separate Gaming Edition) and now their latest generation, the HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition and this one appears to be the most successful yet.
So what do you get with the Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition other than carpel tunnel syndrome from having to hold the Shift key down when typing the name down? Well surprisingly you receive literally everything you would need to begin recording straight out of the box. You get:
The Hauppauge HD PVR 2 device
6v Power cable
2 x HD Cables
1 x PS3 Component Cable
Now, that PS3 cable, let’s talk about that for a moment. The wise folk at Sony have decided that they would encode their HDMI output to prevent people from making copies of Blu-Ray movies (which is pretty obsolete as anyone with technological insight will tell you that Blu-Ray movies are ‘rips’ not captures) but Hauppauge have included this cable out of the goodness of their heart, it’s something that they didn’t need to include, they could have created this entire package without that cable and let you figure this out for yourself but they appear to have gone that extra mile. What’s also refreshing is the level of detail that the enclosed manual goes into – people without any technical knowledge will have a fairly easy time understanding this booklet and it even goes into minor detail about Sony’s encryption decision and why they have included the extra cable. A rare marvel indeed.
Setup is ludicrously easy too, just plug your wires into the respective devices, change your visual settings on your console (as outlined in that excellent manual) and get ready to hit Record. Speaking of which, there is also a handy little ‘Record’ button on the corner of the Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition which automatically activates its recording software, a must if you don’t have chance to switch over to your PC and click on Record (if you were just starting a game of CoD or a particularly impressive cutscene just started for example) You can also import your own watermark onto the video with the included software, simply choose a logo, set the transparency and position it, I kind of wish it were more difficult than that so I had more to write about it but it really is that simple.
So that’s enough of me gushing about boxes and cables like some wire-obsessed lunatic, lets talk Quality…
In video recording there’s a golden rule – the more MBPS you churn through your machine from your source (the video game you’re playing) the better the quality will be. The Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition lets you crank this setting all the way up to 14mbps which obviously offers you some excellent quality video but leaves the video size considerable larger than lesser values:
Below is a quick video showing the different quality that the different levels of mbps can achieve.
Using my favorite subject of all time, Rayman, you can clearly see how the different levels of quality – disk space wise the *roughly* 3 minute 720 Resolution 7mpbs video weighs in at about 171mb however the larger 1080p 14mpbs video – again – roughly 3 minutes long comes in at 297mb. As you can see it’s not exactly the hard drive busting encoding we have come to expect from software like FRAPS in which a simple video of a few minutes can easily breach the 2GB mark.
So in conclusion the Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition is a great device if you want a no nonsense, easy to set up package in one box. The only downside I can think of is that the video editing software it comes bundled with can be slightly difficult to navigate if you’re already practiced with another platform but if you’re a budding YouTube star or simply want video proof of your best Super Meat Boy speed run, I heartily recommend the Hauppauge. You can find out more information such as authorized retailers on Hauppauges website.
Hauppauge provided Slimgamer with a Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition for review purposes.