Nov. 2012 — In today’s YouTube-obsessed world, it’s only natural for folks to be interested in recording their own video game exploits. Whether it be nuking your annoying cousin in Halo 4 or — oh, I don’t know — really nuking your really annoying cousin in Resident Evil 6, preserving your video game hijinks for posterity has a lot of appeal. Now, recording game footage usually requires having a powerful computer that not only is capable of grabbing video from your console but also processing all that data at the same time. Then you have solutions such as Hauppauge’s line of external PVR recorders, which requires a simpler setup that also frees your computer from doing all the data crunching on its own. With high-definition HDMI connections now being the norm for game consoles, Hauppauge has decided to refresh its lineup. One of the results is the Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition, which I’ve been putting through the paces for quite some time now.
Hauppauge was quite generous when it came to adding accessories for the Hauppauge HD PVR 2. In addition to the device itself, the package also comes with two HDMI cables as well as a component cable for the PlayStation 3. This allows you to output video by connecting the device to an HD TV with one of the HDMI cables while also acquiring footage by connecting a game console such as the Xbox 360 — or even a second laptop or computer — with the other HDMI cable. PS3 owners will need to use the included component cable due to copy protection issues associated with HDMI. Sadly, there is no direct connection option for older systems that use a standard yellow/red/white cable.
Set up requires plopping in the included disc to install drivers as well as the Arcsoft program required for data capture. Apparently, the ease of this step varies depending on your computer. For my Intel-powered ASUS G74SX-3DE gaming laptop, installation went off without a hitch. For my older AMD-powered HP Pavilion laptop (which still had the required specs), the installation bugged out in the middle and I had to manually navigate through the installation disc to finish the process.
Once you have your software installed and cables connected, you can launch the capture software, pick your connection input (e.g. HDMI or component) under the capture tab, and start recording. Setup was easiest with devices connected via HDMI. Setting up the PS3 was a bit of a pain because I also had to switch my connection preferences via the PS3 menu from HDMI to component and had to deal with a blacked-out TV screen while figuring out what was going on. Note that you need to also change your video input settings via the capture window when switching from an HDMI source to component source and vice versa. Unfortunately, this is something you’ll need to do everytime you switch recording from, say, your Xbox 360 to your PS3 because the Hauppauge PVR 2 doesn’t recognize this automatically (though a future update might change that).
The good news is that once everything is set up, you can use the Hauppauge PVR 2 as a delay-free, pass-through device, even when you aren’t recording. Keep in mind that doing so requires the PVR 2 to be connected to a power source. Also, while there is no delay when viewing your game through the TV, there is a delay when viewing the game through the capture display, so make sure to factor that when recording. (On a sort-of related note, I found out that the “stereoscopic 3D” option disappears from the “Doom 3 BFG Edition” settings menu when using the Hauppauge as a pass-through, so don’t freak out if that happens to you.)
The recording quality is quite good and you can capture video up to 1080p. Sound quality for recorded videos is also excellent. On the downside, the device does not come with instructions that clearly explain its various settings. This is especially an issue when recording fast-moving games such as Japanese “shmups” like Trouble Witches Neo for example. If you have no clue about adjusting the bit rate to the max, you’ll end up with a grainy mess for fast-moving objects and environments.
The editing software is a bit limited but gets the job done for simple edits or uploading content to YouTube. You can also save your video in three formats, including MP4 for editing in programs such as Sony Vegas. Capture format wasn’t an issue when using my gaming laptop but my HP Pavilion kept crashing when I try recording in MP4 format.
Despite its share of issues, the Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition provides a quick and easy solution for recording video games from high-def sources such as the PS3 or an HDMI-connected device without the need for a top-of-the-line computer. If you’re searching for options to record video game footage, then the Hauppauge is worth looking into.
Looking for a gaming headsets? Don’t forget to check out our Gaming Headset Roundup.