AV.io 4K USB Capture Card (Hardware) Review: Premium Price, Inconsistent Results

AV.io 4K USB Capture Card (Hardware) Review: Premium Price, Inconsistent Results

Content Creators are slowly phasing out their HD setups in exchange for the new standard in online video production, 4K. The problem that arises for many of these creators is that the selection of 4K capture devices for cameras, consoles, and PC is relatively small and rather expensive—so they want to make sure they get the best product for their money. One such solution for many reputable creators on YouTube and Twitch is Epiphan Video’s latest portable capture device, the AV.io 4K USB Capture Card.

Retailing for $500 USD, the AV.io 4K USB Capture Card’s biggest strengths come from its portable size and ability to capture 4K or HD content from any device with HDMI. The card is small enough to fit in the user’s pants pocket and the case is made of a durable metal to ensure it won’t break if it were to be dropped on a hard surface. While I like that there is a bordering layer of plastic to protect the HDMI port, I would have preferred to see some port covers included as well to ensure no debris could ruin the internals if the user were to have an unfortunate incident on-the-go.

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AV.io 4K USB Capture Card – image for this review credit to CGM Staff.

Setup and performance is where the AV.io 4K USB Capture Card didn’t work exceptionally well. Ideally, setup should be as easy as plugging an HDMI signal into the card and then running the included USB 3.0 cable into the back of the user’s computer or laptop, where the captured footage will be recognized as a webcam. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case for us. While the AV.io 4K would be recognized, the signal couldn’t be found from a DSLR camera or the Xbox One X we used as our test suites. After we were provided with a firmware update by the manufacturer the signal could be found and adjusted to 4K 30FPS or 1080p 60FPS, but a new problem appeared where the card would periodically stop working at random intervals whether we were using XSplit or OBS as our recording software. It should be noted we were using an AMD PC, but I don’t know how this hardware would really affect what should have been the same driverless and seamless recording experience other creators have enjoyed.

AV.io 4K USB Capture Card (Hardware) Review: Premium Price, Inconsistent Results 1
AV.io 4K USB Capture Card – image for this review credit to CGM Staff.

What we did manage to capture was high-quality footage without a noticeable shred of latency or input lag. Using Call of Duty: WWII, Rise of the Tomb Raider and Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds as our 4K enhanced test suite I was able to record on XSplit and play the game at the same time without needing to switch over to the Xbox’s native monitor. While our AV.io 4K USB Capture Card experience is close to a dud, when it works it’s easy to see why some creators swear by it.

While I would love to wholeheartedly recommend the AV.io 4K USB Capture Card, its finicky setup and experience left much to be desired. When the card works, it’s great, but that’s something I shouldn’t have to say for a premium product that costs $500 USD. It’s the inconsistencies that I’ve never experienced with other reputable brands, like Elgato or AVerMedia, that make this product unsuitable for live streaming and barely adequate for recording. Understandably this review is an outlier from the norm and users who suffer from similar issues should utilize the included 1-year limited warranty provided by Epiphan to ensure their AV.io card works properly.

AV.io 4K USB Capture Card (Hardware) Review: Premium Price, Inconsistent Results 4
AV.io 4K USB Capture Card – image for this review credit to CGM Staff.

A retail version of this device reviewed was provided by the manufacturer. You can find additional information about CGMagazine’s ethics and review policies and procedures here.


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Elgato Cam Link Review: Transform Your Camera into a Webcam

Elgato Cam Link Review: Transform Your Camera into a Webcam

Elgato used to be known exclusively for their quality video capture cards, but in recent months their lineup of products has branched out into being many Twitch streamers’ one stop shop for a full professional grade streaming setup at a relatively affordable price. One of those new products happens to be the Elgato Cam Link, a USB 3.0 dongle that transforms your favourite video camera into your new webcam.

Elgato Cam Link Review: Transform Your Camera into a Webcam 1
Elgato Cam Link (Review image credit: CGMagazine).

Retailing for $173 CAD, the Elgato Cam Link takes the HDMI output of a video device, whether that be a camcorder, DSLR or action cam, and displays the captured video at 1080p 60FPS to the user’s PC without any latency. While that sounds like an incredibly simple device, there’s more to the process of how the Cam Link achieves these results then you may initially think.

First, the Cam Link takes the RAW quality video signal from the camera and transcodes it in real time, compressing the footage while maintaining a sharp image. Without this encoder technology the user’s CPU would be under a great deal of stress trying to multitask the webcam, the stream, and the game being played, all at the same time. Lastly, the Cam Link plays well with every kind of recording or broadcast software out there, instantly recognizing my DSLR as a webcam in OBS and XSplit after downloading two small sets of drivers from Magic Lantern and Elgato. The ease of use of this product is great and I can see why professionals are flocking to it as the next upgrade path for their setup.

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Elgato Cam Link (Review image credit: CGMagazine).

The Elgato Cam Link does its job to near perfection, but that doesn’t mean it’s a great addition for every streamers setup. This product is ideally for the “professional” streamer, the kind of user who utilizes two PC’s to broadcast their content and sees benefits from upgrading their webcam because it increases the visual quality of their product. It also doesn’t hurt that these users more than likely make money when they go live for thousands of people to enjoy. That’s a niche market of people when you consider the massive oversaturation of streamers on Twitch that don’t even manage to make it to the affiliate level.

I would recommend amateur streamers on a budget to stick by their trusty webcams for a while longer and consider the Elgato Cam Link as more of a luxury item down the line until they grow large enough to justify the purchase and expand their setup. Professionals, on the other hand, are always looking to get an edge on their competition and should see worthwhile benefits upgrading their broadcast using a powerful video camera paired with the Elgato Cam Link.

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Elgato Cam Link (Review image credit: CGMagazine).

A retail version of this device reviewed was provided by the manufacturer. You can find additional information about CGMagazine’s ethics and review policies and procedures here.


Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out Cole Watson’s reviews of the Google Pixel 2 XL and the Microsoft Surface Laptop!

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Elgato Stream Deck (Hardware) Review: A Broadcast Suite in the Palm of Your Hand

Elgato Stream Deck (Hardware) Review: A Broadcast Suite in the Palm of Your Hand

As a person who is interested in streaming part time in 2018, no other device excited me more in Elgato’s new lineup of products then the Stream Deck. Marketed as a new way to “Evolve Your Content,” what the Elgato Stream Deck provides to any level of content creator is the power of a broadcast studio in the palm of their hand. While its retail price of about $220 CAD may seem expensive to some, the Stream Deck is a product that isn’t just great for streamers or let’s players, but anyone that works with any reputable brand of production software.

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Elgato Stream Deck (Review image credit: CGMagazine Staff)

Out of the box the Elgato Stream Deck comes in two components, the core device which houses 15 customizable LCD keys and the adjustable stand for it to sit on. Aesthetically, the Stream Deck looks sleek and professional. The LCD keys act like traditional concave keycaps, but can be a fingerprint magnet at times due to their glossy sheen. Setting up the Stream Deck is a breeze, users only need to plug the device into their Windows 10 computer using a USB cable and download the Stream Deck app from Elgato’s website. With those two steps done, the user is now free to customize the Stream deck to meet their needs.

The easiest way to describe the functionality of the Elgato Stream Deck is that it acts similar to a hotkey. Instead of memorizing inputs for specific functions, the user simply assigns the Stream Deck’s LCD keys with actions and creates a visual icon to represent it using the app. A good example for this is how users can control their stream in OBS. Within 5 minutes of playing around in the Stream Deck app I was able to create scene transitions with effects, create play and stop broadcasting buttons, insert sound effects, and change my audio sources with the simple tap of a key. While these are surface level examples of what a content creator can do, the Stream Deck’s true value comes from its huge list of compatible software where users can freely create actions for YouTube, Twitch, XSplit, Adobe Premiere, and even manage their social media platforms, including Twitter.

Elgato Stream Deck (Hardware) Review: A Broadcast Suite in the Palm of Your Hand 5
Elgato Stream Deck (Review image credit: CGM Staff)

Now that sounds like a lot a user needs to manage if they have actions across a variety of software and platforms, but thankfully all of these actions are easy to organize due to the Elgato Stream Deck’s folder system. Simply create a folder using the app, label it for the platform the user plans to use and then create commands for it. Originally the Stream Deck was only able to hold up to 210 actions before maxing out, but as of writing this review, the folder system has been expanded on and users can now create an unlimited number of actions to satisfy their desires by creating folders within folders.

My only disappointment with the Elgato Stream Deck was that it wasn’t able to integrate with one of the most commonly used tools by Twitch streamers, Stream Labs. This however is in the process of being fixed with the upcoming 2.0 update, which is currently in public beta for users to try out. Many of the updates this beta software covers are quality of life improvements that the community has been asking for and it’s nice to see Elgato is willing to stand by their product and give it the TLC it needs to become more efficient and hassle-free for the user. If you aspire to be more than an amateur content creator, then the Elgato Stream Deck is a fun and intuitive way at learning how to properly manage your content and deliver it at a professional level.

Elgato Stream Deck (Hardware) Review: A Broadcast Suite in the Palm of Your Hand 3
Elgato Stream Deck (Review image credit: CGM Staff)

A retail version of this device reviewed was provided by the manufacturer. You can find additional information about CGMagazine’s ethics and review policies and procedures here.


Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out Cole Watson’s reviews of the Google Pixel 2 XL and the Microsoft Surface Laptop!

Want to see more videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out the First 15: Dissidia Final Fantasy NT,  Star Wars Battlefront II, Sonic Forces + Episode Shadow, and  Super Mario Odyssey!

Don’t forget to tune in every Friday the Pixels & Ink Podcast to hear the latest news, previews, and in-depth game discussions!

Never miss when new CGM articles go out by following us on Twitter and Facebook!

CGMagazine is Canada’s premiere comics and gaming magazine. Subscribe today to get the best of CGM delivered right to your door! Never miss when a new issue goes live by subscribing to our newsletter! Signing up gives you exclusive entry into our contest pool. Sign up once, you’ll have a chance to win! Sign up today!

Danganronpa V3 will feature streaming and screenshot restrictions on PS4

Danganronpa V3 will feature streaming and screenshot restrictions on PS4

Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony will have streaming restrictions upon launch on PlayStation 4, preventing players from streaming and creating videos of the game beyond the first chapter.

These restrictions are in the interest of preventing spoilers, a representative of publisher NIS America told CGM, and have been imposed directly by developer Spike Chunsoft.

What this means is that both streaming through the PlayStation 4’s share features to stream the game, as well as screenshots, will be blocked beyond the first chapter. Streaming is blocked once the player reaches the first class trial, which is roughly four to five hours into Danganronpa V3’s story. According to NIS America, Spike Chunsoft will be taking down any videos with content beyond the first chapter.

NIS America said in a statement it will be releasing updates about relieving these restrictions in the future, implying streamers and content creators will be able to stream and take screenshots beyond the first chapter at some point.

Spike Chunsoft did not respond when reached for comment.

Earlier this year, Persona 5 had similar streaming restrictions, with developer Atlus preventing any native streaming or screenshots whatsoever, and requiring those streaming through third-party methods to only stream up to a certain point in the game or face consequences. The controversy ultimately forced Atlus to extend the point streamers could stream to a later point in the game within the first month of the game’s launch.

Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony is coming to PC, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation Vita on September 26th. The game is the first to feature a new setting for the series, after Danganronpa’s original story concluded in the animated series Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School last year.

For more on Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, check out CGM’s review, and for more reading on the series overall, check out our reviews of the PlayStation 4 remasters of the original games.


 

AVerMedia Live Gamer HD 2 (Hardware) Review

AVerMedia Live Gamer HD 2 (Hardware) Review

One of the most essential pieces of gear a fledgeling content creator can purchase to improve their streams or game recordings is a capture card. For quite some time, Elgato has dominated the market of capture cards for their brand recognition and their high level of quality—at least until recently. With newer models of the popular device coming with proprietary software that most users could do without, content creators have begun to expand their outlook and search for other alternatives in the market. Enter the AVerMedia Live Gamer HD 2, a capture card that is sure to satisfy both veteran and beginning streamers.

AVerMedia Live Gamer HD 2 (Hardware) Review 2

Retailing for $282.99 CAD, the AVerMedia Live Gamer HD 2 appears to be quite pricey compared to a majority of what console users would use to record their gameplay. The reason for this price increase is because the Live Gamer HD 2 is a high-end capture card that doesn’t run off a USB 2.0 port, but a PCIE lane on a motherboard. External capture cards are great for beginners, but problems and limitations can quickly arise during processing, encoding and compatibility with third-party software like OBS. Capture cards like the Live Gamer HD 2 don’t share those stability issues and most times even offer more freedom to the consumer by offering a better feature set.

In the case of the AVerMedia Live Gamer HD 2, users can expect the card to record gameplay at 1080p running at 60 FPS, which most streamers would consider the go-to standard. Unlike most capture cards, however, the Live Gamer HD 2 is a driver-less card, meaning it works right out of the box and is compatible with the users preferred streaming software and platform with minimal hassle. If users were interested in a house-built software suite for the card instead, then AVerMedia has those consumers covered with their RECentral 3 recording software. The card also supports uncompressed video, zero-lag pass-through, scaling support and lastly, MJPEG compression.As for ports, the AVerMedia Live Gamer HD 2 includes four; one to handle HDMI-in, then one for HDMI-out, and two audio ports to round out the card. The HDMI ports are obviously there to capture the gameplay, whereas the audio ports are used primarily to capture the user’s headset mic and team speak. Once users are done hooking up their console or PC to the capture card, they can then move on to

AVerMedia Live Gamer HD 2 (Hardware) Review 1

As for ports, the AVerMedia Live Gamer HD 2 includes four; one to handle HDMI-in, then one for HDMI-out, and two audio ports to round out the card. The HDMI ports are obviously there to capture the gameplay, whereas the audio ports are used primarily to capture the user’s headset mic and team speak. Once users are done hooking up their console or PC to the capture card, they can then move on to customizing and tweak their recording settings. If a streamer wanted to max out the potential of the Live Gamer HD 2, then they could expect their gameplay to run at a refresh rate of 60Hz, a video bitrate as high as 60 Mbps, and an audio bitrate of 256 kbps. These numbers result in a high-quality stream that won’t cause the PC to suffer from any performance issues such as lag or input latency.

A question that some PC users might ask about this product is, “Why would I purchase a capture card when my graphics card has recording software built into it?” The simple answer is that a dedicated capture card won’t affect the performance of a user’s system, whereas using a GPU to both play and record a game could result in a number of issues, including latency, desync, artifacts and a lower frame-rate. A graphics card should definitely be able to run and record eSports games at the same time, but if a user plans to do this for AAA titles I would look at dedicated hardware to handle the recording so the system isn’t under a lot of stress.Overall, the AVerMedia Live Gamer HD 2 is a great capture card that offers users a lot of freedom for how they want to capture their content and how they plan to broadcast it. I never once experienced a bug or a stability issue during my tests and the quality of the footage turned out great even for a rank amateur like myself. Consumers on a budget are sure to look away from this product for its steep price tag, and there are cheaper alternatives to consider that still offer a quality result. My only advice would be to stay away from USB 2.0 capture cards and look strictly for a USB 3.0 or PCIE capture device that best fits the consumers budget and feature set if they want the best result for the money.

AVerMedia Live Gamer HD 2 (Hardware) Review 1

Overall, the AVerMedia Live Gamer HD 2 is a great capture card that offers users a lot of freedom for how they want to capture their content and how they plan to broadcast it. I never once experienced a bug or a stability issue during my tests and the quality of the footage turned out great even for a rank amateur like myself. Consumers on a budget are sure to look away from this product for its steep price tag, and there are cheaper alternatives to consider that still offer a quality result. My only advice would be to stay away from USB 2.0 capture cards and look strictly for a USB 3.0 or PCIE capture device that best fits the consumers budget and feature set if they want the best result for the money.

Twin Peaks revival premieres May 21st on Showtime

Twin Peaks revival premieres May 21st on Showtime

2017 is looking up, now that Showtime president and CEO David Nevins has officially set a date for the premium channel’s Twin Peaks revival. The double-length premiere event is currently set for May 21st at 9 PM, followed by episodes three and four going live on Showtime On Demand. That should give younger fans of the show plenty of time to figure out if their parents have Showtime, and if they know what their cable password is.

(My stepdad unironically likes Ray Donovan and my mom used to watch Homeland before that show got even weirder, so you know I’m all set for when May 21st rolls around)

Series creator David Lynch is back for the 18-episode revival (despite some initial uncertainty), directing from scripts written by Lynch and co-creator Mark Frost, featuring many of the original cast members. Although early reports suggested Twin Peaks might have a shelf life beyond the current 18-episode order, Nevins shot the concept down during Showtime’s TCA tour. “[Twin Peaks] is designed to be a one-time, closed-ended event,” Nevins said. According to Variety, Nevins didn’t rule out the concept of a renewal entirely, but of course he wouldn’t — if the show does gangbusters, Showtime is absolutely going to make more. If it doesn’t bring in the numbers they were hoping for, then “18 episodes was always the plan.”

The first two seasons of Twin Peaks are currently streaming on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and the show’s new home, Showtime. Unfortunately, Fire Walk With Me is currently unavailable to stream — your best option is to rent it digitally on iTunes or Amazon. For returning fans who have already re-watched the show in anticipation of the revival there’s always Dual Spires, the Twin Peaks homage episode of Psych (also currently unavailable for streaming). If you like your weird Pacific Northwest towns a little more interactive, there’s also cult classic video game Deadly Premonition (available on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC, although the quality of the PC version is up for debate)

Action Against Hunger Launches Stream Against Hunger

Action Against Hunger Launches Stream Against Hunger

Action Against Hunger is a powerhouse of an organization. Since 1979, the non-profit has aimed to assist malnourished children, on top of giving communities clean drinking water and long-term plans to combat hunger. Now, they’re asking videogame players to lend their hand.

Launching in August, the organization has started Stream Against Hunger. The first campaign lasted for thirty-six hours straight, without breaks. Now, more have joined in, and even more are encouraged to join. Streamers can create a fundraising page, which they’ll direct fans, friends and family to in order to pitch in money. Participants will be able to use all sorts of streaming outlets, too, including Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook Live.

The aim of this particular campaign is to provide aid to children in Borneo, Nigeria.

“The funds raised by these five gamers will be used to fund Action Against Hunger’s emergency programs in Borno State, northeast Nigeria,” says an Action Against Hunger press release, “where an estimated 250,000 children are suffering from acute malnutrition: the UN has warned that 49,000 could die this year in Borno if they don’t receive immediate help.”

Numbers-wise, Action Against Hunger hopes to hit $45,000 (USD) by September 30. During the last major push, $11,500 was raised, which was then matched by Republic of Tea. This added up to a grand total of $23,000, which guaranteed over 500 kids getting aid they need.

If you stream games, you should definitely consider joining this event. If you don’t, now is a perfect time to start. One of the best parts of this community is when we can come together for a great cause, and help those less fortunate than us. Look for members of the CGM staff putting up streams in the coming days for this great cause, and consider putting one up yourself. Every little bit counts, and every little bit helps a kid get a shot they might not otherwise.

Click here to participate.

Roku Streaming Stick (Hardware) Review

Roku Streaming Stick (Hardware) Review

Media streaming is the go-to for many people these days when it comes to watching movies, television shows, videos, and a plethora of entertainment. As more and more options become available, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Crunchyroll, along with third-party streaming sites, the devices used to enjoy those services will in turn need to become better.

Read moreRoku Streaming Stick (Hardware) Review