Ever since I started experimenting with my PlayStation 2 and a video recorder, I have wanted the ability to record gameplay from video games and play around with video editing. What's always held me back is the sheer inconvenience in manipulating the video directly from a video game console, since recording off of the television using a camcorder is pretty low quality. Even with some research, finding all of the separate equipment and software in order to create these kinds of videos takes a lot of time, coordination, know-how, and money. What Hauppauge has done is put all of the necessary hardware and software together in one box. However, since there's so much that's involved in recording content directly from a console, there's potential for a lot of room for things to go wrong, but Hauppauge looks to have this system in the bag.
The beauty of this product, as I mentioned before, is that all of the cords, hardware, and software are compiled into one box. After doing a little research, collecting all of the items necessary to emulate a similar recording process alone costs nearly $200. Then software is required if video editing is also on the agenda, which usually dedicates another $50-100. In box, Hauppauge includes two HDMI cables, a component cable, a component-in adapter, a Hauppauge High-Definition Personal Recording Device (HD PVR), USB cable, and AC adapter. The ability to record from HDMI is the one major difference between the first HD PVR, but the PS3 can't utilize this because of reasons I'll touch on later.
There are certainly a lot of parts compiled in the HD PVR box, but assembly is incredibly simple. Included in each box is a simple, but very detailed, outline that indicates the installation process, in regards to both software and hardware, very well. From start to finish, the entire installation process took me all of ten minutes. Aesthetically speaking, the HD PVR is a square with small, flattened corners, and the overall dimensions, in centimeters, are 15 x 15 x 4. The front, left, and right sides are slightly inverted, which makes the device look smaller. Though the PVR is all plastic, it doesn't feel flimsy. The structure is very solid, and the stoppers on the bottom of it help keep it in place on a desk. On the top of the PVR is a button that opens the software included with it and records the game automatically. With all of this in mind, the only thing that keeps this from being a desk decoration is the four cords coming out the back. If those cords are kept under wraps, the Hauppauge HD PVR 2 looks great on any work station or television stand.
In terms of software, ArcSoft Showbiz is provided in-box as well. Though fancier video editing software is usable for the content generated with this HD PVR, Showbiz works well enough to create videos by providing a decent amount of transitions and effects; though, don't expect high-budget renderings, such as a body moving across the screen changing the scene. As is traditional, video editing has two layout options, which are storyboard and timeline. Storyboard allows for each separate video to be seen as one item on its own, while time line shows all content in one string of video in the order in which it was placed. From there, content can be cut, copied, moved, et cetera. After video editing is complete, ShowBiz also generated AVCDH discs, video files, and uploads straight to YouTube. Syncing to YouTube ends up increasing the overall time spent creating the video, since this process includes internet upload. However, the time it takes to do each action separately is equivalent to the amount of time it takes ShowBiz to do them both.
The HD PVR utilizes a light on its side that indicates its state of connectivity with the rest of the hardware. All of the specific colors and their allotted meaning are enclosed in the instructional guide, but the different colors all have distinct and helpful indications. One color will show that everything’s connected and recording is working perfectly, while another will say that everything but the computer is connected, and another will mean that the connection to the console isn’t working. Coupled with the instructional guide, the HD PVR has all the tools needed to know exactly what’s wrong if something isn’t connected properly.
The performance while recording is something that should be assessed. Both the gameplay and the feed on the computer are both smooth, but the computer feed is about two seconds behind the actual gameplay. I wouldn't consider this negative, since I wouldn't want to play directly from my computer anyway (especially since I have a 46" TV sitting nearby), but this may be something that some people don't like. I can't say for sure how recording video directly through an HDMI cable is, considering the HDCP limitations from the PS3, but videos on YouTube have shown that recording through HDMI cables on Xbox 360 are recorded in real time. Again, the video quality is not hindered through the component cable, but it is a bit delayed.
One awkward but understandable quirk with the PVR is that is MUST be connected to a computer that's powered on. Since the intention of this device is to record gameplay, it's reasonable to assume that it won't split video feed as a secondary function.
Watching all of those videos of elite campers on Call of Duty own other players can make anyone want to start posting videos of their mad skills, and Hauppauge has provided a product which allows anyone to do the exact same thing; well, it allows anyone to record their games, anyway. It all starts somewhere, and the great group at Hauppauge has one of the best HD PVRs and customer service groups available. By pure chance, the first model that Hauppauge sent me had some sort of malfunction, but the representatives were prompt to respond to my issues and sent me a new one right away. Costing at most around $200, the slightly hefty price is easily countered by the simplicity of the PVR and the comparative separate costs of software and all of the parts needed to do the same thing without it.
-The Final Word-
The HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition brings the ability to record console games to every level of gamer interested in sharing their gaming abilities. The simplicity of installation and usage coupled with the quality of the resulting videos makes for a product that anyone wanting to make game videos should buy.
|Platforms reviewed : PlayStation 3|