A month ago, I talked about the battle for capture devices between Hauppauge and Avermedia with my review of the Avermedia Live Gamer HD. Sure enough, after I started working on reviewing the Live Gamer HD, I received the latest product from Hauppage, the HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition(HDPVR2).
If you read my review on the previous capture device from Hauppauge, HD PVR Gaming Edition, you can tell that I enjoyed the versatility of the product and ease of use that is fairly uncommon for similar devices. New to the HDPVR2 is the upgrade from component to HDMI. Can the HDMI upgrade keep Hauppauge in the fight with Avermedia?
Beautiful HDMI - Not only does HDMI look better than component, the HDPVR2 lets you record your gameplay footage at the highest quality, but it's so much more convenient to have. In the video below, you'll be able to see the higher quality video that HDMI brings to the table versus the component video from the original HDPVR. Not only that, it's so much easier to deal with 1 HDMI cable, that costs $1-5 online and is universal, rather than the 5 cables component has that is proprietary to the console.
Even Works with the PS3 - When I reviewed the Avermedia Live Gamer HD, I mentioned that due to the PS3's encryption via the HDMI cable, it made the console non-compatible with the device. The HDPVR2 gets around this problem by including a component adapter. Plug your component cables into the adapter, plug the adapter into the special adapter on the HDPVR2, and the HDPVR2 will connect to the TV with a HDMI cable. This will allow you to record your consoles at the highest quality, connect to your HDPVR2, with only 1 HDMI cable needed to connect to your TV.
Looks Different but No Need for a PC Upgrade - When the original HDPVR came out, it shared the same bulky design as the non-gaming version Hauppauge had been selling for years before. With the HDPVR2, Hauppauge went much thinner and smaller than before. It's smaller, lighter, and even has a quick record button top of it. As with the case of the HDPVR, spec requirements allows for PC's that are several years old(like mine) to use the HDPVR2 without any issues.
Annoying Interface - Hauppauge has decided to keep the Showbiz software, the same software from the previous HDPVR, for your capture and editing needs. You can use the software for some simple editing, although I wouldn't recommend it as a separate editing software like Sony Vegas, Cyberlink PowerDirector, or even Windows Movie Maker will offer much more editing options with less drain on your system. Where the Showbiz interface becomes frustrating is when you have both a PS3 and Xbox 360 hooked up to the HDPVR2.
Normally, when I have capture device hooked up, I'll leave everything connected so that if I'm playing a game, I can start recording pretty quickly especially with the new recording button on the top of the HDPVR2. Having both consoles connected, however, means that you're going to switch the console you're using via the software. So, if you were playing on the PS3 using the component adapter, and then felt like jumping on the Xbox 360 that's connect with HDMI, you NEED to switch option on the software from HDMI to Component. You would think that the device would be quick to switch back and forth from whichever source is currently running, but no, the software is what tells the HDPVR2 what source you're using. If you make the jump while your PC is off, well too bad, you better turn that sucker on. Neither of these problems were an issue on the original HDPVR making me quick to disconnect HDPVR2 once I had everything I needed for this review.
Forget About Recording Yourself - Since HDMI is an all-in-one cable, reducing the amount of cable clutter, that also means that you can't split the audio to provide a voiceover while recording. This may not affect everyone that plans to use the HDPRVR2, as most people will either record their voiceover over their recorded footage or they'll use their streaming software(like Xsplit) to combine the audio from the game with the audio from a mic. Being one of the analog age, I prefer to have my voice recording with the game audio as it's being recorded, something I could do with the Avermedia Live Gamer HD and the HDPVR.
The Hauppauge HD PVR2 Gaming Edition shows that upgrading to HDMI doesn't always make it better. With the troubles that HDMI has with the PS3, anyway you look at it a capture device is going to have some issues trying to be flexible between the different consoles. Although the HDPVR2 does let you record from your PS3 at high definition, there's a frustration factor that gets added into the mix. It also doesn't help that the Avermedia Live Gamer HD has all the features of the HDPVR2 with much less hassle. Only those potential buyers looking for a USB capture device that uses HDMI should consider the HDPVR2 while the original HDPVR and Live Gamer HD can offer a bit more versatility for those looking.
*This review was based on review sample provided by the manufacturer.*