Roxio Game Capture HD Pro Review
In this age of YouTube, TwitchTV, and other video-sharing sites that are easily accessible to the masses, droves of gamers have taken to using these media outlets to show off their gaming prowess. Whether it be producing machinima, achievement hunting, scoring an awesome kill, or finding crazy bugs such as undead bone dragons burning villages across Skyrim, many people strive to capture these gaming moments and share them with the rest of world-wide web. While various companies offer some great units out there, oftentimes they’re lacking features to meet the needs of the high-def crowd. Video capture is often relegated to standard definition, or at best, 720p high-def. Also, many units only use component input-outputs (RGB cable) and lack HDMI that is so commonly used. Roxio’s Game Capture HD Pro is a device that not only has 1080p high-def capture capabilities through HDMI, but has these technologies in a device that is compact for easy transport. But does it really meet the needs of the gaming filmmaker?
The Roxio Game Capture HD Pro is about six-inches long, three-inches wide, and just under an inch tall. Aside from the RGB and HDMI inputs and outputs located on opposite sides (to avoid confusion), the unit also sports a USB port to connect to your PC through the supplied six-foot USB cable. The device is small enough to tuck away behind your entertainment center, if you so desire, in order to avoid the appearance of a spaghetti factory hanging out of it; however, if you decide to do this, you might want to head out and pick up a longer cable, because a six-footer does not give you much distance from your television after tucking everything away neatly.
Both the Xbox 360 and the Wii U can be connected to the device’s HDMI input for video capture, while the PlayStation 3 must be connected using the component cable. This is not a flaw of the device though, as the PlayStation 3 uses a type of security encryption through HDMI that prevents the device from capturing through that method. Instead, the PlayStation 3 can be captured via the RGB cables; however, you can still connect the video output to the TV using HDMI, but you’ll need to use RCA for the audio output.
Once you’ve gotten your entertainment center and cabling squared away, you can turn to your laptop or PC to install Roxio’s Game Capture HD Pro software. Once it’s installed, you’re presented with a menu to select the “Capture” or “Edit and Share” option, as well as a few handy tutorials at the bottom to get started. The capture software caps video in an M2TS format (Blu-ray Disc Audio-Video (BDAV) MPEG-2 Transport Stream) for best quality video. The software is essentially plug-and-play. For users that just want to get straight to capturing video, you simply hit the Capture button and the software begins recording. There is about a one-second delay between what you see on the TV and what you see on the PC monitor, and I highly recommend muting the preview audio so you don’t have to deal with the subsequent echo.
Also available in the capture software is the Live Stream option, which allows you to stream the video to TwitchTV as long as you have an active account. Other options in the software include being able to set the prefix of the file names (so if you prefer sorting your videos by game, you can do so), changing the directory where the files are saved, desired quality, limiting capture times to more bite-sized increments, and more. Once you’ve captured your golden gaming moments, you can go back to the menu to fire up the editing software under the Edit and Share option.
Roxio’s editing software is somewhat reminiscent of Adobe’s Premiere Elements. Like Adobe’s basic package, it features a timeline at the bottom for adding and cutting video, as well as inserting audio if you wish to narrate. The software also features transitions, basic effects, and the ability to add overlays such as your site logo. An interesting thing that I noticed is that unlike the Adobe software, Roxio’s suite runs the preview video butter-smooth without requiring you to render your workspace. This makes the editing process a lot less frustrating and far less time consuming. Once you have your finished product, you can upload the video straight to YouTube or Facebook. You can also save the video in an MP4 file that is NTSC or PAL friendly (or even both!).
It’s in the rendering phase that the software will really test the hardware that it’s sitting on, and Roxio’s Game Capture HD Pro suite does not disappoint. Running on my VAIO laptop with a Gen2 Core i7 processor (2GHz) at Nvidia GT540M graphics, the system ran at a consistent 35-36% CPU load, allowing me to work on other tasks while the video rendered. The out-of-the-box specs actually show that there isn’t a lot that is really required to run the software, as it only needs a dual-core 2.3Ghz processor, allowing a wide number of people to use the capture device without breaking the bank on system upgrades. It should be noted that streaming at 720p does require a 4.5Mbps connection or better.
The video quality is dependent on what level of quality you select at the time of capture, and provided your hardware can handle it, it looks absolutely fantastic when turned up all the way. I usually keep the quality slider at about 50% which still provides some excellent video, and is pretty much a perfect level of quality for uploading to YouTube. I did get some occasional fragmenting in the captured product, but it was not often, nor consistent, and it is more likely that another system process on my laptop ran briefly (causing the pixilation) than an issue with the software or the device itself.
There are some minor downsides to the Roxio Game Capture HD Pro: the supplied USB cable is only six-feet long, and if you keep the device hidden behind the TV, you’ll be looking at setting up your PC or laptop pretty close to your entertainment center unless you purchase a new cable. I found that a 10-foot cable was just about right for my room as it gave me a good seven-foot distance from the entertainment center to work with. The unit is also USB powered, and needs to be powered on at all times to pass the video through to the television, which means that unless you’re ok with constantly hooking and unhooking cables, or leaving it connected to a PC at all times, this can be an annoyance.
Overall, the Roxio Game Capture HD Pro is an excellent suite of hardware and software for the gaming enthusiast to share their accomplishments with their online peers. The $150 makes the setup an attractive buy, considering what you get. If you’re looking for something to get that gamer who buys every single game and console the day they release, then this is something you might want to ponder.
The Roxio Game Capture HD Pro receives a 4.5/5.0.
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