This article is basically a re-posting of something I wrote up a couple of months ago. I have updated it with new information, regarding the use of component cables. Unfortunately, the handling of the cables in regards to PS3 output is lacklustre. This is described in detail below.
The Roxio Game Capture PRO HD card was the first capture card I ever owned. After having it for more than 3 months, what are my thoughts on it? Would I suggest it to the first time recorder? Well… Let’s start from the top.
First, let’s give credit where it’s due. The Capture card itself is a showpiece. It looks sleek and stylish, meant to pair nicely with a console right next to it. The card has three LED lights: one to let you know that it’s powered on (this device takes power from a USB port, so it’s plug-n-play) and two to let you know whether the card is capturing footage from the HDMI or Composite cable ports.
As for the hardware itself, it sends the video feed directly to your computer for processing. This explains the minimum 2GB of RAM and a Core 2 Duo Processor, although considering that this supports Windows XP, those requirements seem rather low. Windows is also the only system that the card supports. I haven’t heard anything about getting it to work on Linux or a Mac. It does have pass through ports at the back to send the video feed to a monitor or television. Useful, since the computer does not receive the video in real-time, but devices connected to these ports will.
While you can plug in any device via HDMI or Component cables, the device, thank you MPAA, will not let you record any consoles whose HDMI stream is copy protected (HDCP compliant). For the moment, that seems to be all PS3s and the PS4s which have HDCP enabled. The included quick start guide states a workaround, by using component cables, but many don’t have the cable, and aside from the USB cable, no other cables come bundled with the device, as you need the cable specific to your console. This tacks on $30 to the capture card’s $150 price tag… Not that you’d want to use it anyway, as the maximum resolution that the card supports via component cables is 1080i. Yes, it only supports 1080p on HDMI. What’s worse is that the card doesn’t automatically switch input modes, relying on the bundled software to tell it to do so.
Overall, HDCP content aside, the device itself deserves a decent rating; but it’s the bundled software, and one extra thing I didn’t tell you about yet that drags this product down a lot more. You see, while the hardware is OK at best…
The Software (And the annoying bit)
…not so good. The device comes bundled with video capturing, live streaming and editing software, fittingly enough, from Roxio. That in itself is not a bad thing. If you don’t have any of those things, they give those tools to you, free of charge, so you can get started. I, however, do, and it’s there where we run into a bit of a bump, but I digress. After the obligatory installation (Which comes on a DVD), you’re free to use the capture card by plugging it in to your computer via USB.
Launch the software and you get two options at start-up: “Capture” for all of your Recording and Live streaming needs, and “VideoWave” (or Edit and Share) Where all the magic happens. I haven’t used the VideoWave Studio portion, and I have no intention to, so let’s get into the meat of things and take a look at the capture portion… where everything wrong with this device’s software is demonstrated.
The UI is simple enough: choose your input, adjust quality settings, then it’s one click to record or live-stream… or at least it should be. While set-up and use is simple, it’s fine tuning the damn software that is a pain in the butt. While the defaults are good, the outcome may just leave you wanting more in the quality department… and here it comes. When you do go higher than the defaults, the capture software is decent at best with capturing footage, and slow to the punch at the worst. This confuses me, as my hardware is more than capable of handing HD recording. The back of the box says it uses a specialized codec which only renders parts of the scene that changed, but in a video game, does any part of the scene stay the same for even a split second? Not really. As a result, The software can’t keep up with the constantly changing scenes, while still trying to keep up. There’s no way to use your own codec either, so…
Oh, let me break up my wall of text. Anyways, you’re stuck with it. It’s not much better when live streaming. Doing a few test streams reveals that the software defaults to 240p for live steaming to Twitch or YouTube – with a modern day device. Yes. This is what I pay for. Forcing it to 720p reveals that the software Constantly Lags and improperly compresses the video before sending it to the servers, resulting in a near un-viewable blended mesh of pixels by the time it finally reaches the servers.
At this point there is just one final complaint I must raise to this software. If you thought it couldn’t get worse, then get this; Once you have captured your decent video, you can have the software save it as either a MP4 (Web Standard) or M2TS (Blu-Ray Standard) file… in theory. Notice a theme yet? In reality, the MP4 option does not work. This forces you to use M2TS, which, while it can be read by VLC Media player for playback, cannot be edited except for a couple of programs… And guess what supports this kind of file for editing? VideoWave. But what if you wanted to record using better software (Like Open Broadcaster software or XSplit)? Then, pardon the French, but you’re screwed more than when you get hit by a Lighting bolt, a Blue shell, a Red shell and some Star power in the last lap of a critical race. It just doesn’t work.
In essence, they try to lock you in to their ecosystem, and considering this excuse for a simple utility, it’s an ecosystem I have no interest in entering. Roxio had the opportunity to make the best live streaming and encoding software specifically designed for the hardware, and they blew it sky high. While I will refrain from using their software ever again…
… That doesn’t mean it’s a total loss. You’ll still have to install the software, but you don’t need to use it to use the capture card. Here’s my workarounds for the sub-par software.
Instead of the Capture mode – There are only two other pieces of software that can record from the Roxio. The monthly payment versions of XSplit’s software, and The Studio version of Open Broadcaster Software. (Both links open in a new tab/window, OBS Studio downloads to the right of the screen.) Both have the coding required to run the card in a simple way: It may take some fiddling to find out the quirks of using the card in the different software, but it is worth it, as the quality of both live and recorded video is vastly superior.
A note to OBS Studio users: To use the card in that program, start the bundled software’s capture mode, then close it. This will initialize the video stream for use with the program.
Instead of VideoWave – Surprise! Both the free version of VideoPad Video editor and The free, open-source, Shotcut can open, read and edit M2TS files, and, once again can potentially deliver better results than with the bundled one!
The Final Verdict
A decent piece of hardware, marred by terrible software. It’s devices like this that just proves that while you may have a great device, it must come altogether in the software, otherwise, it all just falls apart. Would I suggest that someone get this for their first card? I’ll let you be the Judge. Here’s a hint though: Nope.
Hardware: 3/5. The unfortunate inability to record from HDCP streams, combined with the arbitrary reliance on the bundled software to do even the basic things, breaks down whatever good that may come out of using this.
Software: 0/5. They had a chance to tailor make the software to perfectly complement the Roxio, but it turns out to be much worse than other, less expensive and better programs when put into practice with the Hardware.
Final Score: 1.5/5 – Decent Hardware, Good Ideas, Terrible execution.