Review: Roxio Game Capture HD PRO
Roxio recently released the latest in their popular line of game capture devices, this time in full HD!
We covered the Roxio Game Capture last year, it was great for newcomers to video capturing offering 480p capturing while playing in HD, the bundled video editing software worked just fine and was good enough to cut your teeth on. But a year is a long time in technology and since then other capture devices such as the Elgato have appeared on the scene, offering HD capture within a similar price bracket.
The Roxio Game Capture HD PRO (HD PRO from now on) is around an inch larger than it’s predecessor and around 2 inches larger than its competitor, the Elgato Game Capture. The device is still comparatively smaller than devices such as the Hauppauge series and will take up very little space behind your television for example. Support for both HDMI and Component is included, you will need to use Component if you plan to capture PlayStation 3 footage as it uses HDCP protection, this is standard for most capture devices. The device is powered and controlled by USB 2.0. One thing I noticed is that it *must* be connected to the PC USB, this includes your PC being powered on for it to act even as a video passthrough. This is quite an annoyance as the only alternative is to unplug the device and connect your console directly to the TV if your PC is not nearby.
The HD PRO allows you to record up to 1080p at 30 frames per second, with options for 480p, 720p and 1080i at 60 fps if you wish to use them. The bitrate (video quality) is customisable; lower bitrates give small file sizes at the expense of quality while higher bitrates have larger file sizes with better quality. Videos are captured to .m2ts format, no other formats are supported at the point of capture. A unique feature is that the HD PRO can livestream to twitch.tv from within the software, more on this later.
If you had the original Game Capture the software will be instantly familiar as the HD PRO is near identical. The main screen shows a few options to quickly change settings such as the video input, bitrate and the filename. The video display shows a delayed feed from your console, the 2 to 3 second delay is due to the processing of the video feed, we have a similar delay with other capture devices so this is nothing unexpected. A simple press of the button starts and stops the capture, livestream or screenshot, it is as easy as that!
Montage of captured footage using the Roxio Game Capture HD PRO
The captured video quality is comparable to that of the Elgato which we have been using since its release. One issue we did have was that importing the .m2ts video to 3rd party video editing software such as Sony Vegas can cause loss of audio in the video. This appears to be due to Roxio’s choice of audio compression used in the video. Hopefully it is fixable as the only alternative is to use the Roxio video editing software to convert the video to a more friendly format and import it.
The built-in Live Streaming software is something currently unique to the HD PRO. Live streaming is, as anyone who has tried it, often a challenge to set up – requiring use of 3rd party software such as X-Split. The HD PRO can stream to the popular game streaming service Twitch.tv, it requires very little setup, simply enter your username and password, choose the resolution and bitrate and you are good to go. The live streaming is a bit hit and miss, after some problems with the stream starting and stopping every few seconds, the software seemed to fix itself. One issue I experienced was that over time, the stream would lag terribly behind what I was currently playing. I am not sure what the cause of the issue is as I have plenty of upload bandwidth. I would recommend streaming at 480p as 720p appears to use a lot of CPU processing.
One great feature of the live streaming is that you can attach a microphone to your PC and use it to add live commentary as you stream, something that a lot of ‘streamers’ have quite literally been screaming out for. It works very well and with the right setup it is possible to record party chat on Xbox Live for example. Voice over is strangely missing when capturing video, I hope to see it included in a future update as it really does cut out a lot of time and work.
How to live stream with the Roxio Game Capture HD PRO
The bundled video editing software is a newer version of Roxio’s own VideoWave. It is a fully featured editor which allows you to import videos, edit them into clips, add transitions and text and so on. I use 3rd party software as this is what I am most used to using, but after spending some time with VideoWave I found it to work just as well. Some useful features include a handy voice over tool which allows you to record commentary and add it in to the video. Support for uploading directly to Youtube and Facebook is also included, as are standard export video formats such as H.264.
Some comparisons with the HD PRO and my current choice of video capture the Elgato Game Capture need to be made. The Elgato feels like a more rounded product, the software works flawlessly and feels more polished than the HD PRO, but it does lack a few features such as live streaming and voice over on live streams which are very tricky to get up and running! Both come with video editing software, though the Elgato editor is extremely basic in comparison to the fully featured HD PRO editor and this is something to consider if you do not already have video editing software. The video format issue is something that needs to improve, the Elgato supports native .ts format and 3rd party friendly .mp4 format while the HD PRO uses a less friendly .m2ts. Finally the USB power only working on a PC issue with the HD PRO is an annoyance, the Elgato can be powered from any USB as a passthrough such as your console or TV when not in use. The HD PRO costs $149 RRP versus the Elgato $179 RRP, there is little difference but you do get more bang for your buck with the HD PRO.
Given the choice between the HD PRO and Elgato I would have to base it on what I wanted to use it for. The HD PRO wins hands down for live streaming while the Elgato pips the HD PRO to the post for capturing use and ease. Both devices video quality are comparable with little difference. The video editing software bundled with the HD PRO is more than enough to start with if you do not already have software, this is a great positive and a money saver. For beginner to intermediate users I definitely recommend the HD PRO, for advanced users I would consider the Elgato as an alternative.
You can read more about the Roxio Game Capture HD PRO here.