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Hauppauge HD PVR 2 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £130
inc VAT

Great if you want to record yourself playing games, but a lack of HDCP support means you must use a component cable to record PS3 footage

The Hauppauge HD PVR 2 is a compact device that intercepts the video output by your PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 before it gets to your TV and records it to your PC’s hard disk. Once recorded, you can then edit your videos to provide tutorials to other gamers or demonstrate an exciting feature. You can then upload the videos to YouTube using the included software, burn them to disc or upload them to your preferred site. It could be that you simply want to capture footage for your own amusement or take screenshots of your favourite games. All of this is possible with the HD PVR 2.

Conveniently, the HD PVR 2 uses a pass-through system, which means you can play your games normally while the HD PVR 2 records your console’s output.

Ostensibly, all you need to do is hook your games console to the HD PVR 2’s HDMI input and attach your HD TV or monitor to the HD PVR 2’s HDMI output, but there’s more to it than that. You’ll also need to install ArcSoft’s ShowBiz video capture and editing software and tell it which input you’re using, although you can use other applications if you prefer, such as Hauppauge’s StreemEez.

Hauppauge HD PVR 2

Sadly, the HD PVR 2 doesn’t support HDCP input, which means you can’t connect a PlayStation 3 to it using a HDMI cable; instead, you must use a supplied component cable and adaptor. This is disappointing, because we like the simplicity of the all-digital HDMI solution. You only have to use the component cable with the PlayStation 3, though, so you should have no problem connecting your Xbox 360 to your HD PVR 2 via HDMI.

It’s worth noting that the maximum resolution you can pass through the HD PVR 2 is 1,920×1,080 interlaced, not progressive. You can, of course, set lower resolutions.

Such quirks made the HD PVR 2 a little confusing to set up, and although the installation sheet is helpful, we’d prefer a proper manual in the box.

Once set up, you can view the content on ShowBiz’s Capture screen, which also lets you define the source of the video and audio, and open dialogs to set video and audio bit rates among other options. It’s easy to capture video using ShowBiz, and you can either start video capture by pressing a large button on the HD PVR 2 itself or by clicking an onscreen button within ShowBiz.

Whichever method you use, you’ll have to start capture around a minute before the scene you want to record, as it takes a while for recording to start, even if ShowBiz is already open. If it isn’t open, it starts automatically when you press the HD PVR 2’s record button.

You can save videos in either M2TS, TS and MP4 formats, and you can choose the format using large buttons on the left-hand side of ShowBiz’s Capture screen. The default recording bit rate is 8,000, but you can increase this to 14,000 and choose between constant and variable bit rates.

Hauppauge HD PVR 2

We had no problem recording video or taking still images of our PS3 games in ShowBiz, and the HD PVR 2’s video pass-through had no ill effect on the video that went through to our TV. There was, however, a delay of around a second between the video that appears on your TV and the video that appears in the Capture screen of ShowBiz. Conveniently, you can record catch-up TV played on your PlayStation 3, but make sure that you can do so legally before you do.

Hauppauge doesn’t make much of it, but you also record the HDMI video output of your laptop, which makes the HD PVR 2 incredibly handy if you want to record tutorials of desktop applications, as well as record yourself playing games.

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Price £130
Rating ****

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