The Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition offers superb capture quality at the cost of slicing its PS3 userbase.
What Happened to the Easy Setup?
Wow, things just got even more finicky this time around. Plugging in the cables is more-or-less as easy as before but getting the device to run has become a matter of guesswork. PS3 users will suffer the most thanks to the temperamental component dongle that decides when it wants to work and when it doesn’t. The new ArcSoft Showbiz software is a clone of the old software yet seems even more unstable. When attempting to update the drivers and patch the software it strangely led to more malfunctions. The best combination I have seen that works at present is using the HD consoles that are not restricted by HDCP and keeping the original drivers installed.
Quality that Leaves You in Tears (…happy ones!)
I got to give it to Hauppauge when it comes to capture quality. In this arena, the PVR 2 does outclass the PVR 1 and old problems like image ghosting or bleeding are gone. It’s so satisfying to see each sweat bead, bullet capsule, and hair follicle look as fantastic as it did on my TV set. Colors are not flat and remain faithful to their source. Audio has also been paid attention to and I enjoyed drinking in all the environment sound effects. Naturally the file sizes were huge again but hey even big can be beautiful.
The Black Screen of Doom
Unfortunately it seems like PVR 2 should be packaged with an insert that reads “PS3 Users Need Not Apply.” Due to Sony’s silly HDCP restrictions, the PVR 2 employs a component dongle that allows HD output. Somehow I am suspecting that this dongle is the culprit behind why the new PVR does not like the PS3. Those who own the PS3 and use the recorder run the risk of encountering what I call the “Black Screen of Doom.” Your screen will flicker or die as you try to play which leaves you as target practice for your enemies. Replacing the dongle did not solve the issue in my case and it appeared to get progressively worse. Perhaps if Hauppauge squeezed in a bit more space for component outputs in the future this problem would be nonexistent. For now, the dongle (or whatever the actual villain is) prevents the PVR 2 from being a good option for PS3 users to capitalize on.
Did Someone Say Tablet Capture?
Hands down, the PVR 2 is a beast when it comes to recording your tablet of choice. I always had been scratching my head when trying to figure out a more effective way to record tablet content. If you want to keep your device squeaky clean and unjailbroken, no app under the sun can currently help you, and you will be stuck pointing your HD camera at the glare ridden screen. The PVR 2 is truly an elegant solution to the problem and simply requires this A/V adapter to get it up and running. It handled screen swishing, keyboard mashing, and orientation changing on the iPad 2 with ease. Just bear in mind that your clip dimensions are based on the iPad’s native resolution, so you may have to come up with a neat way to incorporate your footage if you don’t like black bars all around it (I placed mine in a mock iPad for example).
The Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition fared quite well during my capture tests. That being said, I am not fond of issues that cut one’s userbase in half. The PVR 1 to this day handles cross console recording so fluidly that it still has a place in my studio/game room. While the PVR 2 is a decent followup, I am kind of bummed out that it no longer has that Swiss Army knife feel that the original had. Still, the quality of the device especially when using the HDMI capture, is unparalleled by anything else currently on the market.
- $199.99 or less