As I’ve pushed on with my journey to try out as many video game capture cards I possibly can, I realised it’s high time I got to grips with Hauppauge and their top end device, the HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition.
The Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition has been the go to capture device for a lot of gamers looking to dive into the world of YouTube, but with next-gen now in full swing and everything leaning towards the golden digits of 1080p, 60 frames per second, just how well does it stand out in the over crowded market of capture devices?
Well, while its possible to capture 1080p footage, the HD PVR 2 unfortunately wont reach the lofty heights of 60 frames per second and instead sit at roughly 30 (forgiving the occasional frame rate drop). This isn’t a complete deal breaker for most but it’s worth bearing in mind should you be hoping to future proof your set up.
When it comes to setting up, the PVR 2 comes with a slew of connectors including HDMI in and out, allowing for pass through a TV, as well as an S-Video socket and a bunch of cables should you wish to connect your PS3 and older consoles.
This is a big boon to the device as there are very few capture cards out there with the ability to capture footage from the consoles of your childhood such as the Super Nintendo, Mega Drive, PS1 and more. Especially since the push for 60 frames per second led to a lot of redesigns that chose to leave out component ports and more.
You’ll be able to do this straight out of the box which makes things even easier, although be videophiles be aware that HDMI pass through for older devices is a little bit hit and miss so if you’re looking to go retro often, getting a video splitter cable may be a worth while investment.
It’s not all good news in the cable department however. While the PVR2 offers more connections, also the most cumbersome to set up thanks to the need for its own power supply, making the PVR 2 more awkward for those looking to use a capture card on the go. Although, in all fairness, taking its bulky design into account, I’m not sure it was ever designed with travelling studios/set ups in mind.
So how does it compare with other capture devices in the beauty department?
Well, the HD PVR 2 is a bulky box thats somehow manages to look fairly sleek thanks to the rounded edges and hourglass indentation carved around the sides that house a long strip of LEDs which will flash brightly to let you know when you’re live or not. A triangular button adorns one corner of the top facia, making recording as easy as pressing a button. It’s easily the biggest of all its competitors, even pushing Roxio out of the picture, yet it maintains one of the lightest available coming in at an impressive 34g. On the back you’ll find the power socket, a mini USB port, Component video port as well as the expected HDMI in and out.
This marks a significant upgrade since previous designs as the original PVR maintained the look of a small silver jewellery box with some extras wires, buttons and sockets thrown on top.
Like most capture devices currently on the market, capture isn't lag free so you wont be able to play simply through your computer monitor. I didn't find this a huge deal breaker as I prefer to play games through my 32” LED TV safe in the knowledge that my computer is doing the leg work as I play, it is however worth noting if you’re looking for away to make your iMac a monitor for your brand new PS4.
The HD PVR 2 comes with its own recording software, ArcSoft Showbiz, a suite which, as with most supplied with these devices, doesn't offer much more than the basics. It’s no bad thing though, it does what it says on the tin and allows you to capture game play with no fuss and a few settings to tweak video format etc.
Recording gameplay with the HD PVR 2 was relatively painless, with quality sitting at a steady 1080p 30fps with only a few drops in frame rate on occasion. Capture from a PS3 dips in quality simply due to the HDCP forcing you to utilise a component cable but this is issue lies with the PS3 as a console.
Overall you could do a lot worse than using the Hauppauge HD PVR 2 and it's such a great advantage being able to record footage from retro consoles, but coming in at such a hefty price while failing to offer 60 frames per second and having such a bulky, power supply dependant, form factor, you could definitely do a lot better for your money.