Soooo…..you’re wanting to create an everlasting online legacy with some valiant gameplay footage? Good, glad you have your hubris and priorities in order. I present to you, egomaniac, the Roxio Game Capture.
The Roxio Game Capture is one of the first external capture devices for video game consoles that features component video and stereo audio inputs, all with the ease of a USB 2.0 connection back to your PC. Taking a look at the Roxio press release, you’ll see that their intent is to provide the right mix of ease-of-use features at a good price point. Let’s see if they got it right, shall we?
In the Box
The box includes the Roxio Game Capture, Capture & Videowave Editing Software Disc with install code, 1 Component Cable (Out), 1 RCA Audio Cable (Out), and 1 USB cable.
The RGC itself is actually quite small and subtle. Looking from the top, the length is bout 5 1/8 inches x 3 inches, so it takes up very little real estate on your desk. As an added onus, the unit is USB powered, so keep in mind there is no need to plug it in to a power supply. The main issue will be making sure you have enough cord length between your console, TV, and PC, which with the included cords being approximately 72 inches long, none of that should be too much of a problem.
One thing I feel compelled to point out here is that the console specific Component AV Cables are not included. Queue outrage. That absolutely baffles me to not throw those in there! Now, maybe the assumption was most already owned them? I suppose that could be the case. Nonetheless, there are still many that have upgraded to HDMI and probably don’t have the appropriate console to TV component cords, meaning consumers aren’t going to be happy to find that their capture device isn’t necessarily ready for plug and play. Granted, minor oversight with a relatively cheap fix, but should at least be mentioned.
Minimum System Requirements:
- Microsoft Windows® 8, 7, Vista™ SP2, XP (SP3 for 32 bit & SP2 for 64 bit), Intel® Core 2 Duo Processor 1.8 GHz or AMD Athlon x2 64 2.0 GHz, 2GB RAM
- DirectX® 9.0c compatible graphics card or higher, sound card
- 2GB free hard drive space for installation. 10+ GB free recommended for video recording.
- Windows Media Player 11 or higher
- Internet explorer 7 or 8
- Internet connection required for capture, registration, product updates and tutorials. Any Internet charges are the user’s responsibility
- One available USB 2.0 port
Before going into more details below, let’s take a little side bar for a bit to note the three systems I tested this on. The first one was a laptop barely meeting the minimum system requirements, showcasing a dismal 1.83 GHz Core 2 Duo processor with 4gb of ram. It was practically worthless. Most of the gameplay recordings turned into chipmunk gibberish with choppy playback/magical teleportation of your characters.
The next was a laptop with an i3 processor. Much, much better. Video playback was smooth, no audio issues, and you could practically play in real time through the Roxio Software (not recommended, though, since you cannot adjust the screen size from within the software…which we’ll talk about later).
Last was my monolithic juggernaut of sexiness that is my i7 PC, which I occasionally like to spoon with at night <—- fun fact. Worked like a champ on there.
Bottom line: Make sure you exceed the minimum system requirements. Otherwise, you are just asking for problems with chipmunk vermin and teleportation invading your gameplay.
From the device itself, it has two forms of an output. One is a USB 2.0 port that goes straight to your PC for capturing purposes (both video and audio), and the other is a component/audio pass-through output to your TV, allowing you to game in HD. NOTE: The device does not capture in HD, though.
The pic below gives you a quick look at what the setup will look like. It is virtually the same for the PS3/Wii as well.
The capturing software is fairly self explanatory. You can change your recording formats (WMV, AVI, or DivX), audio settings, files paths, take screen/video captures, and adjust the color settings in the preview window.
The preview window you see to the left works in semi-real time, provided your PC is fast enough, but it is not ideal for use as a playable screen due to the software’s inability to manually change the size. Now, one can make the preview window larger by maximizing your entire software window, but, again, you probably won’t find it suitable for playing a game. To give you a better understanding, the software window maximized on a 1920×1200 monitor gives you approximately a 1329×751 preview window. That’s why most will find it necessary to use the video passthrough cables in order to play full screen. That’s a bit of a bummer, but it can be circumvented somewhat by using third party programs like Xsplit or Open Broadcaster Software and using said program’s full screen capabilities. It won’t look pretty stretching the image, but it is functional.
You may notice that the preview window in the picture isn’t very sharp. If you take a quick look at the font, it is legible, but not as clear as it normally would be. It seems that the preview window muddies the picture quality and it isn’t a perfect 1:1 depiction of what you are actually capturing/outputting in the end. This muddying applies for the video capture and passthrough but is most noticeable in the preview window.
(For this photo, the PS3 was set on 1080i).
Unfortunately, a big missed opportunity with the capture software is the ability to add live commentary as you are playing. Essentially, the initial audio settings only give the option to record the gameplay audio or your voice. You can’t have both. There are ways to solve this problem with aftermarket software, such as Virtual Audio Cable (merging voice & gameplay audio), but it’s difficult to find the right levels and not accidentally drown an audio source out. (Example: Explosions during gameplay will overpower your angelic, awe-inspiring, commentary).
Last bummer is that I initially did experience software freezes where it completely locked up at random times, along with some discernible clicking lag. This was most prevalent on the lower end systems I tested on, but it did happen once on the i7 as well. Typically, upon initial startup, everything would be humming along just fine, when suddenly the entire program would freeze up something fierce. The only resolution was restarting the hardware, which usually fixed my dilemma. It was very difficult to pinpoint a causation for this, as it wasn’t that frequent, but certainly a cause for concern if you are recording gameplay.
Video and Audio Specs:
I used the same 1 minute video recorded with each default output. The following is a table of the RGC’s resolution, aspect ratios, codecs, bit rates, FPS, and file sizes, followed by a video comparing the three.
|Resolution||720×480||848×480 mpeg-4||720×480 DV|
|Video Bit Rate||3000 kbps||3018 kbps||24.4 mbps|
|Audio Bit Rate||86.5 kbps wma|
|96 kbps mp3|
|1536 kbps pcm|
|File Size||19.7 mb||22.7 mb||219 mb|
DivX has the best quality with a fairly low file size. That may be because of the higher default resolution, but it’s hard to be sure. You will find that the DivX files recorded with the RGC will not work well (if at all) with other editing platforms, but they will work just fine with the included VideoWave editing software.
WMV also has decent quality and file size, but it will require you to “upconvert” (read: stretch the image) in order to get rid of the 3:2 pillarboxing for YouTube.
Lastly, the AVI file surprisingly looks to be lower quality and the file sizes are enormous. Personally speaking, I don’t think it’s worth the extra file size for a non-HD file. If your videos are small, it’s a moot point, but compressing huge gigabyte files could take hours before uploading, depending on your PC rig.
All “snapshots” taken from within the Roxio Game Capture software (not VideoWave) will be saved as a .jpg at 720×480. The frustrating part about using this method is that you literally would have to click on the screen capture button in the preview window in order to save an image while playing. This is incredibly awkward and for whatever reason, there is no screen capture keyboard hot key. Therefore, you would be better served to extract pictures from within VideoWave editor itself (mentioned below), after your file is recorded.
I won’t go into a lot of detail because the bitrates and video above are fairly self-explanatory. If you’re new to bitrates and how they affect audio quality, typically a higher bitrate is better. However, in this instance, you actually won’t hear a huge disparity between 86.5, 96, and 1536 kbps. Once again, I feel that the AVI files audio bit rate is excessive and simply bloats the size of the file.
Note: You can output in VideoWave to mp3, wav, wma, and aac, but your initial capture is more limited.
Roxio VideoWave Software
Probably one of the best things the Roxio Game Capture has going for it is the learning curve of the VideoWave software. For example, the timeline is easy to manage and almost all of the buttons feel self-explanatory. It is very clear where to use template transitions and they all get the job done without too much fuss. In fact, one could conceivably use this software for other video editing tasks that don’t require too many bells or whistles. If you’re familiar with any other NLEs like Premiere Pro, Vegas, etc, you’ll know that they can be a bit daunting at first. In the end, those other NLEs can do more, but the VideoWave software holds its own and can accomplish most of the tasks a start-up video game commentator would be trying to perform.
Exporting video can always be hazardous to one’s patience. Thankfully, the VideoWave software performance is increased by CUDA and ATI stream technologies. If you’re not familiar with either of those, the short end of it is that your GPU takes a lot of the work load and this should, in theory, allow for faster encoding times. Using the video I posted above as an example, that took me less than a minute to export the video when coupled with my EVGA GTX 670. There are several choices when it comes to exporting video, so you shouldn’t have too many problems in that regard. Actually, there are even some HD exports, so one could conceivably use VideoWave for some of their other HD video, if they are more comfortable with the software.
The one glaring issue I have is what happens when attempting to share your video directly to YouTube from the VideoWave software. Seems like a handy feature to save time on your work flow, right? It is, except for what happens after you click “post to YouTube”. The window darkens and what appears to be a never-ending buffering symbol of doom spins with no percentage indicator or status bar of any kind. As you begin to weep uncontrollably from the prospects of your video for the masses never being seen, miraculously a new window pops up, once again, with no indicator. After clicking “OK”, one then has to go to YouTube and see if the video is in fact processing. That’s a bit confusing, because it gives you the impression VideoWave freezes, but it still works in the end. Regardless, an indicator of some kind would have been helpful.
“Upscaling to HD”
As mentioned earlier, Roxio VideoWave lets you output to an HD format. It’s extremely important to understand what that really means. The highest editable output the Roxio Game Capture can initially capture is 720×480. That means any “upscaling” is a faux HD that simply stretches the video size out. The video quality won’t improve whatsoever. It will, however, remove the pillarboxes for uploading to YouTube in some instances.
Color correction works decently enough within VideoWave. It’s more of a preference thing in terms of what you believe makes your videos look the best. One thing I’ll throw out there, even though it doesn’t apply to many, is that you cannot color correct a video source on a separate timeline, such as “video overlay”. The only reason I even noticed this was because of the comparison video I did above with multiple videos playing at once. Just something to keep in mind, if you ever do something like that.
Now, if you are in need of a png, jpg, tiff, bmp, gif, et cetera, this can be done by extracting an image from the production timeline in VideoWave. This actually works pretty well, but the captures oddly end up at a different resolution of 853×480. All in all, really excellent way of pinpointing screen capture images.
Adding commentary is fairly easy from within VideoWave itself. You can start and stop wherever you want along the video timeline and insert audio. Not a bad setup if you are wanting to finely tune your commentary instead of doing it live. However, I still wish the option to live record was available, though. Note: There are tweaks one can make with some third party software and extra audio cables that will allow for live commentary, but it takes a bit of extra work. For the sake of reviewing the default product, I won’t be going into detail here, but I will probably do a tutorial video in the future to maximize the potential of the Roxio Game Capture.
The Roxio Game Capture was not marketed as a live streaming device, but it is possible to use it as such when coupled with Xsplit or Open Broadcaster Software. There are some issues, but for the most part it’s quite dependable. Again, I’ll probably go into more details along with the live commentary tutorial.
The Roxio Game Capture is a reasonable entry-level capture device if you are on a tight budget and willing to circumvent some quality for those savings. It definitely is a lot more powerful when coupled with third party software and a bit of finagling, but clearly not everyone is willing to do that. If you just want to create videos with commentary in post production, then it is a decent bet out of the box. Nonetheless, I would still be looking into at least saving up the extra coin to upgrade to the Roxio HD Pro for live streaming and recording HD.
Roxio Game Capture Score: 6/10
|Plug & Play to PC||No HD|
|Easy learning curve for Editing Software||No recording mic simultaneously|
|Cheap Price Point||Picture Muddied on TV/Recorded|
|Can Bypass PC to play in HD||No higher than 1080i|
|Usable starter piece for commentary||Minimum spec not dependable|
|Small & Portable||No HDMI|
|CUDA and ATI Stream GPU Support|
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|J & R||Newegg|