Capturing video game footage is a tricky process that, until now, has required using a computer. You had to get a capture device, plug it into your computer, load the software, and record to your hard drive. The AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable changes all that. While it’s a perfectly capable video capture device that can record HDMI or component video to your computer, it’s much more useful than that. Thanks to an SD card slot and a PC-Free mode, you can capture what you play with the push of a button, without having a computer nearby. The $179.99 (list) box can be fussy at times, but it’s the smoothest, easiest way to record video from a game console or other source we’ve seen yet, and is our Editors’ Choice for video capture devices.
The Live Gamer Portable is red, black, and tiny. At 0.9 by 5.2 by 2.8 inches and weighing just 4.1 ounces, the plastic box is barely larger than my Samsung Galaxy S III. The face of the device houses a single large, round Mode button that glows to indicate what it’s doing. The only other control, along with every connection on the device, sits along the wide edge. There’s a switch for selecting modes, and a component video input (with adapter connection), an HDMI input, and an HDMI output. The narrow edges hold a miniUSB port for power and PC connections on one side and an SD card slot on the other. You should be careful to keep the included USB-to-miniUSB cable labeled and near the Live Gamer Portable at all times; I found some difficulty getting the box to work consistently with other miniUSB cables (though it handled all sorts of USB power adapters and USB ports without a problem, as long as the included cable was used). The box captures H.264 video in up to 1080p at 30 frames per second or 720p video at 60 frames per second (the PC-Free mode can only record up to 720p video). The device passes through video at its native resolution and frame rate, and doesn’t upscale; the resolution of the source is the resolution at which it will record.
Thanks to the PC-Free mode and the big, glowing button, you can set up the Live Gamer Portable and start recording footage in just a few seconds. Pop in an SD card (Class 10 or higher, so it’s fast enough to keep up with the video), plug in the miniUSB cable to a power adapter or computer, connect an HDMI cable from the HDMI output to the HDTV, and connect the video source to the appropriate port. The box can accept non-DHCP-protected HDMI signals, like those from a PC, Nintendo Wii U, or an Microsoft Xbox 360, so you can just connect it to either device with the included short HDMI cable. The Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition offers similar connectivity and has a similar light and button for engaging in recording, but it requires a PC connection.
For the Sony PlayStation 3 and other, DHCP-protected HDMI devices, you have to use the component video adapter connection. An included PlayStation 3 cable lets you hook the Live Gamer Portable directly to your console from the component output port to the component input port, without using the standard five RCA cable connectors typically used with component video. If you have another component video device, you can connect it the old fashioned way with the included five-tailed adapter. The PlayStation 3 cable is nice to have, because it simplifies the component video connection and makes it as easy as plugging in an HDMI cable. The connectors are even similarly shaped.
If you want to use your computer to handle recording or streaming, the Live Gamer Portable can accommodate that too. Just switch to PC mode, making the button glow blue instead of red. You’ll be able to access the accompanying RECentral software to both record and stream from your computer using any connected device. The software includes voice commentary support, and a TimeShift feature that lets you go back and start recording from buffered video onward. The Live Gamer Portable also comes with a 3-month subscription to XSplit Broadcaster, a streaming program and service that offers a more robust feature set than RECentral itself.
I did notice a bug with RECentral when I installed it on my computer. The preview window can appear blank or copy whatever window it is in front of. This is a known issue, and AVerMedia has a patched version of the executable that fixed the problem.
The Live Gamer Portable worked flawlessly when recording footage from the Wii U, Xbox 360, PC, and PlayStation 3 (the first three through HDMI, the latter via component adapter cable). If you want to record and stream e-sports action, FPS, fighting, or MOBA games like Counter-Strike, Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3, or DOTA 2, the device is well-suited to handle any of it. If you want to record something more retro, you might have difficulties. The Live Gamer Portable can only capture HDMI or component video signals, and I found that, even when using a composite-to-HDMI converter, it couldn’t capture video from my Nintendo GameCube, Nintendo Entertainment System, or Sega Dreamcast. Fortunately, composite and S-video video capture devices are available for a fraction of the price of the Live Gamer Portable, but none will work nearly as cleanly, with a PC-free, one-button recording feature.
For recording video games, the AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable is, well, a game changer. Its one-button, direct-to-SD-card, PC-free recording mode is fantastic for capturing footage for Let’s Plays, tournaments, and reviews. It would be perfect if the USB cable wasn’t finicky and if it supported composite and S-video for older game consoles, but it’s still the best video capture device we’ve tested. It makes the process simple and painless, which means you can spend more time gaming and less time worrying about recording.
|External Storage||SD GB|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc