The Elgato Game Capture HD is a little hardware device that allows you to plug in HDMI and component devices in and capture video via the USB 2.0 interface which plugs into your Mac or PC. The aim is to capture video game footage so you can import it into the video editor of your choosing, or use the one that comes with the Elgato software, and share the video in whatever way you want. Having had some experience trying to get this right in the past and writing a column about the various options available to gamers, we couldn’t believe that the Elgato Game Capture hadn’t been on our radar until now – because quite frankly, this is one of the single best products we’ve ever reviewed.
What Does The Elgato Game Capture Do?
The device is a small rectangle shape and has two inputs and two outputs. The inputs allow you to hook up a component or HDMI device and the output goes to a PC or Mac’s USB 2.0 port (to import the footage on your computer) and an HDMI out port so you can hook it up to your TV or computer monitor. Beyond that there’s really nothing to plug in and no drivers to worry about – it all just works and rather easily we might add.
Once you have it hooked up, which might take you all of five minutes, you’ll be able to save the footage of you doing whatever it is you do onto your computer. From there you can edit the video either in the free software that comes with the device or you can import it into the video editor of your choice, such as Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro. If you just want to upload it straight away you have that option as well as there are built in hooks to share the video via several popular tools such as YouTube.
If you’ve been dying to record your game footage and have it look prestine, then this is the device that does the job. It’s great for reviews (what we’ll use it for), guides or just general bragging rights over your fellow gamers.
If you read the guide I wrote on how to capture video from a console onto your computer you’ll remember that all three of the major manufacturers’ products ranged from $199 to $229. The list price of the Elgato Game Capture falls in line with that at $199, but you’ll find it $10-$15 cheaper than that if you shop around. So, not only does this device surpass the others in terms of ease of use and functionality, it’s cheaper too.
If there was one hitch in reviewing the product, it was with the installation. The device comes with one HDMI cord, which I plugged into the device’s HDMI output port and into my computer’s monitor. However, the cord I used to plug the device’s input port with my iOS devices (iPad 2 and the iPhone 4S) was apparently not up to snuff and I could constantly get the “This device is not supported” error. The cure? Replace the cable with a high-grade current HDMI standard cable. Voila! No more error messages and I could import from my iPad and iPhone.
Wait, What Does it Import From?!
Yup, you read that last paragraph correctly. Not only was I able to hook up the Xbox 360 (HDMI in) and PS3 (special PS3 port cable, included) up to it, I was able to go buy the Apple Digital AV adapter for $29 at the Apple Store which allowed me to hook up my iPad and iPhone. It’s just an amazing device and the presets for capturing for all of those devices are already inside the software so there’s not much to worry about. Again, if you have problems, make sure you’re using up-to-date cables. Conceivably, you can import from any HDMI or Component device, with the caveat being that there is copy protection on some HDMI sources (such as the PS3) so you’ll need to import from those devices using the Component cable solution.
Holy. and. Crap. This thing lived up to the billing to say the least. You read how easy the installation was, but overall this thing is super easy to use. Granted, I’ve been importing and editing video for over 10 years as a hobbyist and as someone that develops content meant for the web. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that the Elgato Game Capture HD device is the single best hardware importing tool I’ve ever used. It’s easy to use, it’s small and lightweight and it performs magnificently. The video that comes in is gorgeous, whether it’s full 1080p or lesser resolutions, such as the 720p I was extracting from the PS3 – everything just looked amazing.
There’s some really cool features included such as the “Flashback” recording feature. This really saves your butt if you forgot to hit the record button as it caches everything and you can go back, hit play, hit record and then you have the footage you thought you missed out on. Lifesaver!
OverallI’ll end this review the way I started it – by saying that it’s only every couple of years when something this innovative comes along for us to review. There’s just a lot to love here, between the design of the device being sleek, lightweight and small, to the price point being under the competition. The ease of use and quality the device brings is just about mind-blowing on top of all that.
The Elgato Game Capture HD is the single best solution for capturing video game footage from a console or handheld device, bar none. Not only does it have all the features you would want, it also happens to be a few bucks less than all of its competitors. This is a no-brainer: Editor’s Choice Award Winner.