News Article

Hardware Review: Hauppauge HD PVR2 Gaming Edition Plus

Posted by Rory Cocker

It's pronounced 'hop-pog', by the way

As we head further into this generation, sharing and social media is looking to be an increasingly large focus for Nintendo’s competitors, with both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One featuring their own built-in DVRs. Unfortunately, Nintendo’s latest console lacks both the means and the oomph required for what is a resource hungry endeavour.

Aside from the promised ability to share short clips to Miiverse in the upcoming Mario Kart 8, the Wii U lacks a centralised, system-wide method for those looking to share their clips online, which has so far necessitated the purchase of a third-party capture card. At around £139.99, the Hauppauge HD PVR2 Gaming Edition Plus is one of the latest such devices on the market.

The unit itself is fairly sizeable, but it’s attractive enough and it feels sturdy, though perhaps a little lighter than its dimensions would have you believe. Hauppauge products have always boasted a superior build quality to competing products, and the PVR2 GE+ continues that tradition.

There’s also a handy physical record button on the top of the unit itself, which should prove particularly useful if you have both your console and PC plugged into the same TV. An illuminating strip runs around the outside of the unit, and it glows different colours to indicate the recording status. It also looks rather cool.

HDMI-in and HDMI-out jacks can be found on the rear of the unit and can accept signals of up to 1080p, as is to be expected from any modern capture card in this price bracket. One advantage the PVR2 has over its peers is the ability to record 5.1 surround sound via said HDMI input. An AV-in port allows you to hook up consoles via Component. S-Video and Composite support is also available via the purchase of an additional accessory, ideal for all those legacy systems.

The PVR2 GE+ is priced similarly to its closest competitors, yet it comes with everything you need to get recording, right off the bat. A rarely seen case of capture-card-manufacturer-generosity sees the Hauppauge come bundled with not one but two HDMI cables, and even a component lead featuring the proprietary PlayStation connector, useful for – shock and horror – capturing footage from the PlayStation 3, whose HDMI-out is of course HDCP copyright protected. The cost of cables is a factor that’s often overlooked when deciding on a capture card, so it’s nice to know that Hauppauge has you covered.

In terms of inputs, the PVR2 GE+ is pretty well equipped, though there’s one input we’d like to see removed from its posterior entirely – a 6v power jack. The majority of modern capture cards are USB-powered, and with good reason. This particularly thirsty PVR, however, requires its own power supply.

On the flipside, this means that the signal passthrough is not dependent on USB power, and so you can play the console that’s plugged into the PVR without the need for your PC or laptop to be turned on. Still, it’s not a favourable trade-off in our opinion; a USB-powered card is a much more attractive option as it means one less power supply has to be plugged into your already-straining trailing wall socket.

The hardware takes a further blow when you consider that its optimal quality setting maxes out at a paltry 14MBps, lagging slightly behind the Roxio GameCap Pro HD (15MBps) and light years behind similarly priced offerings from Elgato, AverMedia and Black Magic (30/60/60MBps, respectively).

There are many capture cards that do a decent job on the hardware front, but they’re all too often let down by the bundled software. The PVR2 GE+ is no different. The capture and editing software included with the Hauppauge is hugely limited, yet still manages to be horribly complex, unintuitive, and not exactly what you’d call user friendly. If you’re in any way serious about editing, then you’re left with no other option than to purchase third-party video editing software — Hauppauge’s suite simply doesn’t cut it.

We can say with complete confidence that the bundled ArcSoft Showbiz is one of the worst pieces of software we’ve ever had the displeasure of using. Not only is it ugly and unnecessarily convoluted, it’s hideously slow. The record button on the hardware unit is good in theory, but in practice, it may as well not be there; there’s a 30-50 second delay between finishing one recording and starting another. Not only that, but it takes a good five to ten seconds for the software to start capturing after you hit record, such is the sluggishness of ShowBiz. There’s no chance of catching something spontaneously here.

Compatibility with XSplit and Wirecast is also hit-and-miss. There were times when the software recognised the device, but couldn’t display a feed. Then there were times when XSplit straight up didn’t acknowledge that the device was connected at all. Other times, it worked without a hitch. It was wildly — and maddeningly — inconsistent.

Delving further into the software issues, we found that exporting recordings as .mp4 files results in all sorts of strange artefacts, particularly on static images. Hauppauge insists that a fix is coming, but we’re yet to hear any further comment from the company. StreamEez allows you to broadcast directly to Twitch or UStream using ‘Low’, ‘Medium’ and ‘High’ bandwidth presets, but again, the software is so horribly designed that you’ll just want to stick with XSplit.

Perhaps the most egregious of issues, though, lies in Hauppauge’s Personal Logo Inserter, which allows you to burn a watermark over your recordings. Once you’ve inserted your .jpg, .bmp, .png or .gif, the only way to resize it is to use the mouse cursor, which would be fine, except that there’s no way to lock the aspect ratio. You can’t enter a resolution or a percentage to resize the image manually, so you inevitably end up with a slightly squashed – or stretched – image. Alone, it’s not a dealbreaker, but such a ridiculous oversight just sums up how poorly designed the entire software package is.

In short, the Hauppauge HD PVR2 Gaming Edition Plus is outperformed by its contemporaries in pretty much every area imaginable. Whether it’s the need for its own external power source, the comparatively low bitrate, or the infuriatingly awful software suite, the PVR GE+ leaves much to be desired.

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User Comments (36)

DreamyViridi

#3

DreamyViridi said:

Aw, that's a shame. I bought one a month or so ago.
It's not opened yet so maybe I can trade somewhere. What Capture Card would be suitable for Wii & Wii U capture?

SpaceKappa

#4

SpaceKappa said:

I used the original HD PVR for a while, but since my main goal was capturing retro consoles it didn't work well for me as it was unable to accept any signal lower than 480i (everything before the GameCube/PS2 era was 240p). The bundled software was pretty bad, too. It's interesting to see the HD PVR2 now has support for retro consoles, in theory... the old model had composite and S-video ports built in (which is why I bought it) but it still could only accept 480i or higher. Does this one ACTUALLY support older consoles?

Anyway I sold it and got an Elgato Game Capture HD and I haven't looked back. It's much more lightweight and easy to move around depending on what console I want to use and it ACTUALLY supports consoles all the way back to the NES. I've used it for both retro consoles and for the Wii U and it works fantastic - plus the bundled software is much more user friendly.

Staff, feel free to edit this comment if this is considered spam or advertising, but if you want to see how great the Elgato is at capturing footage, here's an episode of my show where I used it to capture NES gameplay (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0XY181Jhw) and one where I used it for the Wii U (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plBvFP6XnV4). As someone who's used both, I'd say the Elgato wins hands down.

MrDerpski

#5

MrDerpski said:

@OP The Roxio GameCAP HD Pro actually is 15mbps not 14. Get your facts straight.

b23cdq

#6

b23cdq said:

AVerMedia Livegamer Portable is supposed to be good (according to ReviewTechUSA).

rjejr

#8

rjejr said:

"though there’s one input we’d like to see removed from its posterior entirely – a 9v power jack."

They should either remove it, or change the label from "6" VDC to 9. ;-)

Cuddles

#9

Cuddles said:

I don't even know how long I've had my (original) HDPVR, but it has worked flawlessly for the entire time. It's always been hooked up to my PS3 for as long as I can remember. The software will rarely freak out, but it's fine after restarting it. Love that thing! I just wish the next gen consoles had component out :(

Kamalisk

#10

Kamalisk said:

You do realise that the WiiU essentially creates video in real time already? That is what is sent to the gamepad. It would certainly be feasible to also store this to internal storage with a system update, if they really wanted to.So I don't think it needs the oomph of the ps4 or xboxone to be able to do store the last 15 of a game. (if the game isn't using the gamepad for other things)

Smitherenez

#11

Smitherenez said:

I am using the original HDPVR in combination with EyeTV for the mac. It works pretty well, but there is some serious ghosting happening because of the badly isolated audio jacks in the HDPVR.

SphericalCrusher

#12

SphericalCrusher said:

Good review! Would definitely love to get one of these, or maybe build my own... since I'm a huge Twitch.tv fan — would love to have my own channel. Nonetheless, I will most likely either build my own or go the Roxio route.

banacheck

#14

banacheck said:

The PS4 uses a dedicated encoder chip to ensure that the game itself doesn't slow down as a result, as everyone already knows it has the "Share" for instantly accessing the editing system & uploading to the Ustream video sharing service.

tchaten

#15

tchaten said:

Elgato Game Capture HD - pretty sure that is the gold standard ... or is there something else better to get ...

fzerroo

#16

fzerroo said:

Why would I ever want to record my playing outside the game. Completely stupid and waste of time for me.

Rafie

#17

Rafie said:

I have the Elgato and let me tell you that it's a beautiful piece of machine. My recorded Street Fighter matches and Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 fights never looked so great. You best believe once Smash and MK8 come, I will have online matches posted. I'm excited for those games to drop.

tchaten

#20

tchaten said:

I enjoy it for releasing on my YouTube channel - for little 2-3 minute clips of unique things etc.

tchaten

#21

tchaten said:

@Rafie Looking to pick up Elgato fairly soon. I think it would be a lot of fun to do a game night over Google Hangouts.

Rafie

#22

Rafie said:

@tchaten You'll be very pleased with your purchase. I guarantee it. It's an incredible investment. No doubt!

the_shpydar

#23

the_shpydar said:

Lol @ the tagline.
Being a Long Islander, the proper pronunciation is second nature to me, but it's one of those LI town names that often perplex non-Islanders. :D

banacheck

#24

banacheck said:

PinkSpider said:
Really not interested in recording my games. Pointless feature

I guess the miiverse picture capturing is a pointless feature too?

tchaten

#26

tchaten said:

@Sparkyboy6 It's YouTube.com/TCHATEN - I do lots of movie reviews, video game footage of interest, daily news, GoPro footage during hikes, etc. - hope you check it out - coming up on 300,000 views ...

unrandomsam

#27

unrandomsam said:

@SpaceKappa Does it work with blazing lasers ? Most people don't seem to be able to capture that properly.

(Is that all it does ? or does it have the functionality of something like an XRGB3 so you can use it with an HDTV and have stuff work properly).

theblackdragonAdmin

#28

theblackdragon said:

@Spooky: My guess would be that Rory sprung for one and wanted to share his experience with the device, seeing's to how his description says he's in charge of our video content. It is marketed as being compatible with the Wii U, after all. If I had a device like this and knew it was crap, I'd want to spread the word too.

Besides, look around you — there seems to be a decent segment of our userbase who either had been or may have been interested in picking one of these up. You and I may not care, but let those who do have their day. :3

millarrp

#31

millarrp said:

well, here's hoping they can at least correct the software issues with updates

umegames

#32

umegames said:

I use one this one, i upgraded from the original because i wanted to capture the wii and wii-u games via hdmi. software is meh, but its much better than the 1st.

Sonic128

#33

Sonic128 said:

I have an Elgato HD Pro and i recommend it cause its super easy to set up and is packaged with everything you need.

ledreppe

#34

ledreppe said:

I have this, and it crashes the capture application when you start/stop recording using the physical button on top of the unit. It corrupts the video file, and I've been unable to upload videos without having to replay the game again. :-( I hope this is fixed in an update soon.

Sonic128

#36

Sonic128 said:

I did consider buying the Roxio Game Capture before i bought the Elgato game Capture. But in the end i preferred Elgato. Roxio is still a good one though. (just my opinion)

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