Hauppauge’s HD PVR 2, designed specifically for gaming use, lets users stream or record high definition footage straight to their computer. Hauppauge boasts that this PVR allows for video to pass through the box from your TV right to your screen with no delay. Which is not entirely true.
Rather than record and store footage on the PVR itself, it acts as a middle-man of sorts between your TV and computer, saving the captured footage directly onto your selected storage or streaming through your client of choice.
Setting up the Hauppauge PVR proved a little tricky. It connects to your computer via USB, and to your TV display by either HDMI or component cables. Because the PlayStation 3 is HDMI protected, you won’t be able to record footage from that system unless using a component gaming cable. Other input/outputs include S-video, composite, and stereo audio.
After setting up the default program, Arcsoft ShowBiz, there were some difficulties with getting it to display the proper TV output. ShowBiz isn’t the most intuitive program and didn’t always allow changing sources and video quality. There is another program available that provided a far more streamlined design and was easy to use.
Capture4Me gives the user the same options for outputting high quality video and recording that footage onto your system. The software isn’t free though. For users that intend on collecting footage longer than two minutes (which is probably most users) buying a license for full use of Capture4Me will set you back $20. Which is definitely worth making the entire experience more accessible.
Once the setup process is done, capturing footage is easy enough. After selecting your output and video quality a simple press of the record button on the PVR begins the entire process. File sizes aren’t large for such high quality video. An 18 minute video falls into the 1GB range for example. You can set the resolution of recordings to be up to 1080p30. The hardware video encoder is in line with Hauppauge’s previous gaming PVR model, but the video quality is now higher. The recording datarate can be adjusted from 1-13.5 Mbits per second, which is the same range available with the prior model.
Getting back to the subject of the purported “no delay” when recording video. There is a small delay (usually in the 2-3 second area) which isn’t really all that much. But it is a delay and bared mentioning. When playing back these videos, they may look choppy and sluggish depending on if your hardware is equipped to handle high fidelity videos, but that isn’t through any fault of the PVR’s. It is worth saying however that when attempting to stream PlayStation 3 gameplay through Twitch.tv, the PVR crashed a colleague’s computer. This may be down to the power of the system and just be an isolated incident, but regardless it did occur while using the Hauppauge PVR. Streaming requires you have higher specifications on your system though. (Editors Note: Hauppauge clarified that the "no delay" was to the TV. During the review process no delay was experienced while playing on the TV. Also, the streaming process is much less demanding when using Streameez)
Overall the Hauppauge HD PVR 2 is a solid piece of hardware at $169.99. If you can get through what we found was a slightly tricky initial setup process, and depending on your comfort with the native software or going with Stream4Me, it does a terrific job capturing high quality footage from gaming consoles. The record button on the box itself makes it easy to get your recording started. It may not warrant a complete upgrade from previous models, but is an great gaming PVR if you’re on the market for one.