Genki Shadowcast 2
Image: Genki Things

When we reviewed the original Genki Shadowcast back in 2021, we were a little lukewarm on it. While the appeal of a capture card the size of a USB thumb drive needs little explanation, the device was hamstrung by muddy compression and a high level of latency. It felt like a solution in search of a problem, even if we could see some merit in a product that allowed your laptop to double as a portable gaming display.

Creator Human Things has refreshed its range for 2023, and the Genki Shadowcast is one of the products that's getting a tidy-up – and this welcome upgrade turns the device into something we'd recommend with a little more enthusiasm.

The headline news here is that the Shadowcast 2 can now capture at 1080p / 60, which is a big improvement over the 1080p / 30 the original unit was capable of. Furthermore, by offering USB 3.2 support, the device can leverage ten times more bandwidth than the 2021 model – which means clearer capture, lower latency and fewer compression artefacts. In short, Shadowcast 2 offers a better experience in every department – bar one. The bundled USB 3.2 cable is much shorter than the one that shipped with the first model, making the process of setting things up a little more awkward (Update: Human Things have been in touch to tell us that the cable which will be supplied in the final production version will be much longer than the one we were sent with the review sample – phew!).

Genki Shadowcast 2
As you can see from this image, compression is noticeably improved when compared to the original Shadowcast from 2021 — Image: Genki Things

Image and video capture is noticeably improved, making this an ideal 'on the road' capture device, as it's significantly smaller than most leading capture cards. Not everyone needs super-crisp 4K video, so this reasonably-priced middle ground will naturally appeal to Switch gameplay streamers, as the console isn't capable of 4K output anyway.

If you're keen to use it as a means of connecting your console to your laptop for gaming away from the TV, then the reduced latency is going to be very appealing; while it was perfectly possible to play this way on the original Shadowcast, input lag did occasionally rear its ugly head, as did drops in the frame rate. We're pleased to report that things are much improved this time around.

Genki Shadowcast 2
Shadowcast 2 can connect to any HDMI source — Image: Genki Things

As was the case with the 2021 Shadowcast, you can select between 'performance' and 'resolution' modes using the Genki Arcade software. Performance mode favours lower latency at the expense of image quality, while resolution mode is the option to go for if you're looking to capture images or footage. In both modes, there's an obvious quality bump when compared to the original Shadowcast, but don't go expecting the same standard you'd see on other, more expensive capture cards – colours still look a little muted.

If you're looking for a full-fat capture solution, then Genki is also releasing the Shadowcast Pro as part of its 2023 range (we'll cover that in a separate review), but it's also going to cost more – so there's definitely room for this new and improved Shadowcast 2 in the market.

At $50, it's not going to break the bank, and could well be the cheap-and-cheerful capture option you've been looking for.

You can back the Shadowcast 2 over at Kickstarter now.

Thanks to Human Things for sending us the Genki Shadowcast 2 used in this review.