Roxio Game Capture HD Pro review by Stephen “Shanghai Six” Machuga
I have been meaning to upgrade my Hauppage 1212 high definition game capture device for some time now with an HDMI model, so when the good folks at Corel allowed me to try out their latest, the Roxio Game Capture HD Pro, I was secretly excited to see if I would notice a difference between being forced to use composite cables and shelling out hundreds of dollars on a computer-based capture card.
First thing I noticed right out of the gate upon cracking open the plastic container? The whole thing weighs less than a pound. The black plastic cover for the device along with the plug outlets give the appearance like the whole thing is going to fall apart with a stiff gust of wind, but the little guy is surprisingly durable. A hell of a difference from the giant box housing that is the Hauppage 1212.
As I also got a review copy of Dishonored from Arkane Studios this weekend, I figured that it would make the perfect time to bang out some walkthrough and gameplay videos using the Roxio Game Capture HD Pro to see if I could detect a difference in how I was accustomed to recording gameplay. If you’re recording Xbox 360 (like I usually am), it’s fall-off-a-log simple. HDMI from the Xbox to the Game Capture HD, HDMI cable from the Game Capture HD to the TV, then plug in the USB 2.0 plug into the back to provide power to it and download a copy of their software from the Roxio site, and boom. You’re in business.
Things got complicated when my copy of Dishonored arrived and it was a PS3 version of the game. As I was soon to find out, the PS3 does not allow for HDMI capture of their system for copyright/piracy issues with having a Blu-Ray player (not a Roxio issue, just the way it is). So, out came the PS3 composite cables, and I was back to where I started as far as going from “shiny new HDMI 1080p” to “probably perfectly fine composite 1080i” recording, but boy did it require a handful of more cords.
Also, another issue with the Roxio Game Capture HD Pro is that it does not have an optical port in the back like my Hauppage does. What does that mean? Well, for those of us hardcore out there who enjoy having 7.1 surround sound set up to their television or their Astro A40 headset plugged in while capturing/livestreaming, you’re going to have some trouble. Of course, my giant 42” television I practically stole from Newegg it was so inexpensive that it also doesn’t have an optical port (need to fix that), I was somewhat stuck having to get creative to plug my headset into my television. Not the best solution, but again, I’m in a special case here. Just something worth noting as someone who has grown accustomed to the Hauppage with its half dozen extra plugins and ports for cables. I could also just be ignorant at the proper set up of my home entertainment center, but having plugged countless cords into countless outlets, I’d like to think I know how to run cables (turns out upon further inspection of the Hauppage HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition, it ALSO does not come with an optical in/out as well. I’m apparently missing something here that the designers are trying to tell me…).
The software that comes bundled with the Roxio Game Capture HD Pro is a proprietary game capture software which is aggressively simple to use. Load it up, push “capture” and when you see the image on the screen of your game, push record and you’re off and running. One of the issues here is that the default recording format is a AVCHD and there’s no way to change it. Again, I’m accustomed to being able to record using MP4/H.264, which has been my bread and butter for sometime now. As AVCHD is a format created by Sony, you would think it would be a little friendlier in Sony Vegas…but no. The raw files have no audio when I pushed them over to Sony Vegas despite sounding fine when I played them back in preview. Good ol’ Sony. Of course, Roxio must have known what a pain in the ass this format was to work with in 3rd party editing software, because it also includes a proprietary video editing tool that you can use to format your recordings to your heart’s delight in a variety of crazy formats.
As Dishonored was embargoed this weekend, I was unable to try out the “one button push livestreaming” button on the recording software. Having set it up and played around with it a touch, I imagine it’s just as simple and intuitive as the recording software itself is.
As for the final product? Well, I’ll include my seven minute speed run of the final level of Dishonored to give you an idea of what the final product rendered down to a Windows Media Video looks like:
Not the greatest quality, but as the Youtube limit is still 2GB and I’m typically recording for longer sessions, I crank out my final product using the WMV format and am able to squeeze in a whole lot of gameplay without sacrificing a lot of quality; again, not a Roxio issue, this is just how I do it. There was an issue of Youtube regularly attempting to auto-brighten my default videos I’d posted, but again, there are settings within Roxio’s software to adjust lighting before rendering the footage.
That is something my original Hauppage 1212 did NOT come with, and as most people know about video production software, it does not come cheap. Without knowing if the Hauppage HD PVR 2 comes with its own video editing software (it doesn’t appear to), the hands down winner is the Roxio Game Capture HD. The value add of the Roxio proprietary video editing suite is definitely a great addition if little Timmy doesn’t have the $499 to shell out for professional video editing software (or the where-with-all to figure out how to pirate it off the internet).
Here’s the deal. The Roxio Game Capture HD Pro is cheaper than its direct competitor, the Hauppage HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition (but not by much, $149 vs. $169). The Game Capture HD Pro unit may require a little finagling when it comes to PS3 recording (as do they all), but the Game Capture HD Pro really is a great blend of competitive pricing by a relative newcomer to the gaming arena. Folks who may want to give this whole “livestreaming” gig a try but don’t need all the bells and whistles of a more expensive product will definitely get everything they need to get started, including the software to edit their own videos…because you need to make sure you watermark that video with your gamertag, “W3ed4Life420xxx” so no one steals your leet videos.
Interested in finding out more about the Roxio Game Capture HD Pro? Check out the Roxio web site for more details!
Oh, hey, you like our Dishonored gameplay videos? Check out other videos I recorded using the Roxio Game Capture HD Pro!
Editor’s Note: Front Towards Gamer received a review copy of a Roxio Game Capture HD Pro unit.