As streaming has become more popular, companies are fighting over control of the capture device market. Two companies that have been going head-to-head are Hauppauge and Avermedia. Avermedia recently released their Live Gamer HD card that tries to provide the highest quality recording capabilities with the lowest system requirements. Will Live Gamer HD be worth the $200 price to upgrade or should you keep looking elsewhere?
Simple but Effective - If you haven't dealt with the capture software included with a capture device, I can tell you that there is a very good reason why people uninstall it right away; its usually buggy or devoid of any worthwhile functionality. In the case of the Live Gamer HD, its software, RECentral, is designed to handle all the variations of capturing video game footage. You can setup RECentral to record your games off your console at a crisp 1080p via HDMI, it can guide you through setting up a live stream, or it can even record games straight off your PC. Not only is it versatile, but it has options for every kind of user. If you're new to capturing, then it's a fairly simple: pick the source you're recording and off you go. The more experienced user will be able to customize resolution, audio inputs, and other options to optimize your recording. I also like the fact that the software actually gets upgraded on a regular basis, unlike the software that often comes with these devices.
Easy on the Power - One reason I've preferred USB capture devices versus internal capture cards like the previous Avermedia cards is that they take less power to run. Being that my computer's CPU hasn't been upgraded for 6 years (I know, I'm a terrible human being), internal cards tend to be a bit much for my PC, which has caused me to avoid them altogether. Thankfully, Avermedia has realized that not everyone has a designated PC optimized for streaming so lowering the system requirements make the Live Gamer HD far more attractive than other cards on the market. When capturing gameplay, my PC doesn't completely slow down to a crawl and heat up to the point where I could cook a Hot Pocket in it.
Even Has an Easy Button - To make things even easier for you, Avermedia added an big red button to give you quick access to recording with the Live Gamer HD. Plug the button into a USB port, and once you're ready to record, simply hit the button. Once you hit it, it'll start up the program and begin recording the PC or console game that you have as your default setup. While it's not a chore to start up the program, if you're going to be recording/streaming on a daily basis, having one-button access is convenient. It's also works well when you're playing the game of your life in Call of Duty or Halo, and you want everyone to see your greatness without having to stop what you're doing.
DOESN'T CAPTURE SONY'S HEART
No PS3 for You - Due to the additional encryption that the PS3 uses, the Avermedia Live Gamer HD is unable to record straight from the PS3. I did get confirmation from Avermedia that they are working on this issue, but that patch has yet to be released as of this writing. Naturally, anyone looking to stream PS3 games will have to look for another capture device for now. This also puts a damper on those looking for a capture device to stream fighting game tournaments, as the PS3 is the preferred console for multiple fighting games.
So is the Avermedia Live Gamer HD worth the $200 price tag? Absolutely. Similar to the Hauppauge Gaming PVR, the Live Gamer HD is great for users that need a lower powered solution to record/stream their games. It arguably has the best quality along with being easy to use. Granted, it's not portable like the Hauppauge but it makes for much less clutter to deal with. PS3 users will unfortunately have to find an alternative for their needs.
*This review was based on review sample provided by the manufacturer.*