If you're a fan of video games, then you've surely seen the never-ending barrage of gameplay videos posted on places like YouTube. You've likely also seen people set up their camera phones to record their televisions, resulting in something that is far from desirable. There has to be a better way. And there is, but up until now, many of the most conventional solutions involved using a computer as an intermediary.
It doesn't have to be that complicated. And that's where the AVerMedia Game Capture HD steps into the picture. In short, it lets you record all of your gameplay simply, easily, and without the aid of a connected PC.
Quick Feature Overview
The idea behind this product is beautiful in its simplicity. Place it as an intermediary between your game console and your HDTV, and you'll be able to record everything as you see it on the screen.
This is a standalone video capture box, but it is also capable of recording stills. The video resolution can go up to 1080i, but the only connectivity option is component video plus RCA stereo audio. It would have been a lot easier if it also accepted HDMI for input and output, but perhaps that's an upgrade their considering for a future updated version.
Included in the package is a multi-cable that will connect to your Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, or Nintendo Wii. Also included is a set of basic component and stereo audio cables that you'll use to connect the Game Capture HD to your television.
Getting It All Set Up
The setup and installation process is about as easy as it gets. If you can figure out how to connect your DVD player to your TV, you'll be able to handle this.
If you swing around to the back of the device, you'll notice one set of ports for the input and another identical set of ports for the output. As mentioned, your only option is component video and stereo audio. There's also the port for the power supply, of course. If you don't want to use the provided multi-console cable, you could just as easily use your OEM component cables.
The other half of the equation has to do with storage. After all, your recorded stills and videos have to be saved somewhere. The AVerMedia Game Capture HD has an internal dock for a 2.5-inch hard drive, supporting both 9.5mm and 12.5mm thick platters. Installing the drive is a simple matter of removing the bottom plate and sliding the drive into place. If it needs to be formatted, the software will do that when you turn on the device. There is also a standard USB 2.0 port in the front. You can just as easily plug in an external hard drive or a USB flash drive in this port and use it to save your gameplay videos.
After you turn it on for the first time, the menu will walk you through any other steps that you need to take. It is here that you can adjust the quality of the stills and videos, but most people will want to keep these at the highest settings.
Recording a Match
The actual process of recording gameplay couldn't be easier. There is an included remote control, so after you turn on your console, TV, and the Game Capture HD, you're pretty much set to go. You press the "record" button on the remote and--you guessed it--the recording will then begin. Hit "stop" when you want it to stop.
Shown here is an example video that I recorded using the Game Capture HD. It's an online match I had in Super Street Fighter IV over Xbox Live. I have not edited the video in any way and that is how it came straight out of the box.
You may notice some minor quality issues with the video, particularly when it comes to the crispness of the image, but the video is perfectly usable and the sheer ease of use makes it an absolute joy.
Instant Playback, But...
That said, this is not at all the best playback device. It works, but the audio and video got out of sync almost immediately. This is not unlike the issue I had with the Uebo M50 media player. In this way, while it's useful to review footage, you're much better off watching your recorded gameplay videos on a computer after the fact.
The second feature is that there is a built-in file manager. This makes it easy to move files between the internal storage (the mounted hard drive, not included) and external storage, including the ability to multi-select. If you're hosting a tournament at an event like LANcouver, then this is a good way to share those gameplay videos with the participants.
MEGATechie Pure Pwnage or MEGATechie Epic Fail?
At a retail price of about $150, the AVerMedia Game Capture HD is a solid investment for anyone who wants to share their gameplay videos online. It's so easy to use and the multi-console capabilities make it very flexible. It won't work with the Nintendo 3DS, but it could theoretically work with future consoles like the Xbox 720. Because of the component inputs and outputs, it can work with virtually any component source. That's a huge plus.
The video quality isn't exactly perfect, but PC-based solutions aren't necessarily much better either. The big win here is the ease of use: all you have to do is hit record. Whether you're looking to share your epic wins with the YouTube community or you want to offer game tutorials and other useful walkthrough vids, the Game Capture HD is easily one of your simplest and most affordable options. It's so much better than pointing a cameraphone at your TV.