Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition Plus review

Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition Plus

The first Hauppauge HD PVR was highly popular among gamers who needed an external video-capture device to record footage from games consoles. With a full set of analogue video connectors, including component, composite and S-Video inputs, it was a great way to record the analogue display output from almost any device. See all DVR reviews.

Its only glaring omission was support for HDMI video, to allow for bit-perfect recording of all these digital sources. Not for long though, since Hauppauge has now released a second version of its flagship recording device – the HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition Plus – with the ability to record HDMI video, and a strong focus on the fast-growing interest in capturing and sharing game content across social media channels.??As with its predecessor, the HD PVR 2 is an external box-shaped device, although it’s considerably slimmer than before. There are now fewer connectors on the gadget itself: HDMI input and output, an A/V port for component video using a supplied cable, and an S/PDIF optical audio connector for Dolby Digital surround sound. And of course, a USB 2.0 port for connecting a computer to the HD PVR 2 to record the stream. Unfortunately, the HD PVR 2 cannot be powered via this USB connection, so you’ll need to use the supplied mains adaptor.??The HDMI output works as a lag-free passthrough, so you can continue to play games on your TV while the HD PVR 2 captures the video stream. An LED inside lights the device up when it’s used and there’s a button at the top so you can start or stop recording without having to delve into software. See all digital home reviews.

The Hauppauge HD PVR 2 supports recording to both Windows and Mac PCs, using the supplied Hauppauge Capture software. There are some differences though. For Windows users, a copy of ArcSoft ShowBiz is provided, for which there is no Mac version.??The Hauppauge Capture software has a completely different look and feel on the two platforms as well. In Windows the program is straightforward for beginners to use, with a big red button to start recording, and each of the software functions occupying a clearly labelled tab at the top.

You can stream a live feed from the HD PVR 2 to Ustream or Twitch servers, upload recordings to YouTube (in batches if necessary) and there’s an editing function. The Capture tab provides a live preview of the video stream from the HD PVR.?
But on the Mac, despite offering many of the same features, instead of a straightforward appearance, the application is chock full of settings, relying on the standard OS X user interface elements rather than custom graphics, and less concise labels that make the Windows version look the better option.

While live previewing on the Mac is possible, you have to install third-party software to use it, namely VLC. Although it works reasonably well, it’s not as good as the built-in preview that Windows users get.??However on either platform, the recorded video is of superb quality. You can choose the bitrate, up to 14 Mbit/sec, and add audio commentary on-the-fly. The colours look sharp and vibrant and we’re sure that if you want a device for capturing video, you won't be disappointed with the results from the Hauppauge HD PVR 2.

As with rival Elgato’s Game Recorder HD, the PlayStation 3 connects to the HD PVR 2 via a component cable, as its entire HDMI stream is encrypted. This could affect how the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One work with video-capture devices like this HD PVR 2. Since neither console will offer analogue component video, it may depend on whether the entire HDMI stream is always encrypted, or only when it detects that a film is being played.??We asked Hauppauge about this, and the company was confident both next-generation games consoles would work with the HD PVR 2, but without offering much detail of how it would work.??While it’s hard for anyone, including Hauppauge itself,  to be completely certain about either console until they are released, it means there’s a big question mark hanging over all HDMI-based video capturing devices right now. It’s worth noting that the Nintendo Wii U is not restricted in this way.

Hauppauge vs Elgato

Comparing the Hauppauge HD PVR 2 with the Elgato Game Recorder HD is tough, as both produce recorded video of a very high standard. We think the HD PVR 2 has a very slight edge in recording quality over the Game Recorder HD, and has the advantage of recording surround-sound audio, but the required external power supply and larger physical size makes it a little more clunky to operate.??We found the Hauppauge software wasn’t generally as good as Elgato’s. The Windows versions could do with some tweaks, while the OS X version needs a lot of work. While Windows users should weigh up the pros and cons of each, for now we’d recommend Mac users choose the Elgato Game Recorder HD until Hauppauge’s software has improved.

Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition Plus: Specs

  • Video capture device
  • 420p, 576p, 720p and 1080p recording resolutions
  • HDMI passthrough
  • HDMI input
  • analogue PS3/component input
  • Mac and Windows software
  • S/PDIF audio
  • personal logo recorder
  • ?
  • Video capture device
  • 420p, 576p, 720p and 1080p recording resolutions
  • HDMI passthrough
  • HDMI input
  • analogue PS3/component input
  • Mac and Windows software
  • S/PDIF audio
  • personal logo recorder
  • ?

OUR VERDICT

The HD PVR 2 is a powerful video-capture device, with far more utility than simply recording games. It’s a great way to record output from a PC without an application such as Fraps hogging system resources, and can be used with many other gadgets too. We’re not keen on the Mac software though. It works fine, but lacks the polish and attention that has gone into the Windows software.