For years the Hauppauge brand has been THE go to set of products for anyone that wanted to deliver high quality gameplay videos. Just like anything though, nothing last forever and other companies like Roxio and Elgato have pushed into the market in recent years. This hasn’t necessarily been bad for Hauppauge, it just meant that they’ve had to fight a little harder for market share that was once a given.
The thing that makes the Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition unique from its predecessor is that while the previous units could be used to capture is a video game footage, as the name suggest this unit is specifically designed for that task. The unit features both HDMI and component video inputs and can capture video from all three major video game consoles (and most devices with a component video output as well).
When the Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition review unit arrived I decided to get right to it and get it set up on my PS3. That didn’t turn out to be as easy as I had hoped.
I’ve spoken to several folks that said that setting up the Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition was a breeze, but personally I can’t confirm that, at least not on PS3. At the time I had my PS3 connected via HDMI, but due to limitations related to HDMI encryption PS3 players will be forced to use component cables. I consider myself a pretty technically competent person since I do work in the IT industry, but after an hour of messing around with the instructions, I still couldn’t get the durn thing to work right. I ended up having to get on with Hauppauge technical support and at that point it took the technician less than 10 minutes to get me up and running.
The problem with this is that to get it to work, the technician told me to do something that was explicitly conveyed not to do in the instructions. Specifically, in order to get the display to work once the Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition had been plugged up, you need to plug in both the HDMI connection and the component cables into the back of the PS3 at the same time. Once you get the display to pick up on the component cables, you can then unplug the HDMI cable from the back of the PS3. I’ll assume that the Xbox 360 setup which can use HDMI is a lot simpler, but personally the setup wasn’t a high point for me.
The Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition uses a passthrough system, meaning it connects to your computer via USB port and outputs the captured video through its HDMI output regardless to whether your using a component or an HDMI input connection. The beautiful thing about the Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition is that it comes with everything you need to not only capture your video, but it also comes with software that allows you to process the video and make it worthy of submitting it to the masses. The Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition comes with ArcSoft Showbiz and while it’s not the latest or most advanced version of the software, it definitely gets the job done. It comes with all the tools and features you need to make some seriously awesome gameplay videos. As for the software itself, it’s simple and intuitive and even if you aren’t extremely tech savvy, you should be able to get the hang of it fairly quickly.
Using The Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition
Once you’ve completed setup, you are ready to start capturing video. Once the Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition is properly connected, you should see the screen for your game console inside of the ArcSoft Showbiz software. You’ll notice that there is slight lag on the video that is being captured, don’t worry that’s normal and even though it will look likes lagging to you, the captured video will come out smooth and just as you saw it on your television screen. There are two ways to start capturing video, you can press the record button that is situated on top of the device or you can press the capture button from inside of the ArcSoft Showbiz software. The important thing to note here is that if you press the button on the actual unit, there is a slight delay in when it actually starts to record (to help avoid accidental recordings). If you click the Capture button on the software, however, recording starts immediately. When you’re done capturing your video, simply press stop on the software or press the capture button on the unit again.
*On a personal note, seeing the lag on the screen and hearing the audio out of the laptop did start to throw me off a bit, so I muted the sound and closed the lid a bit. Doing this will not affect either your video capture or the audio for it.
Why Do PS3 users have to use component cables?
That’s a very good question and it has to do with HDMI encryption. Your PS3 encrypts its HDMI connection to protect movies played through the built-in Blu-ray player. From there its just a basic encryption problem, the Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition can’t break through the encryption, therefore to get around this feature limitation, PS3 players must use the provided component cables. This means that on PS3, the highest you can capture at is 1080i vice 1080p. The Xbox 360 on the other hand doesn’t have this issue and can capture up to 1080p through an HDMI connection. So PS3 players will see a slight quality drop when compared to 360 players, though even with this being the case your gameplay videos on either console should come out in stunning HD quality as long as your television support the higher resolutions. The Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition also supports composite and S-video, so if you want to capture some classic gameplay from older systems it can do that as well, though it will require you picking up an optional $15 cable.
While the unit is a little pricey, coming in at $150 on Amazon as of the writing of this review, ultimately it’s probably worth the price tag if you are serious about putting out high quality videos. With that said though, there are several alternatives on the market now across all price ranges that must be considered. There are units from Avermedia and Elgato just name a few, each unit having its own pros and cons. The Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition can more than get the job done, but I do think that other companies have raised the bar and Hauppauge must now in turn do the same. For years they had the market all to themselves and many had complained that they failed to innovate. With the emergence of other players in the market, I think Hauppage will be forced to go back and fundamentally rethink game console capture and come back with something that impresses us all.
*Check the video below for an example of what’s possible with the PVR 2, don’t beat me up too bad this is my first video!!