It's not uncommon for gamers to want to share their favorite video games with others. In fact, the viewing of other people's gameplay has all but turned into a spectator sport popularly known as "eSports". Currently, there is a small number of devices available to allow gamers to record or stream their gameplay footage; but none do it quite so well as the new Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition. Its quality and capabilities, though, come at a price.
Accepting all three of the current-generation of video game consoles (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii U), the HD PVR 2 is quite versatile. It records full HD video with audio for all three consoles. There is, however, one caveat: PlayStation 3 owners will have to settle with a max of 1080i via component A/V cables while Xbox 360 and Wii U owners get the benefit of 1080p footage via HDMI. While this is hardly the fault of Hauppauge's device (the PS3 disallows recording via HDMI), it would be nice if the manufacturer would have finally found a way to record the PS3's HDMI signal by now.
The device itself is quite simple. At it's core, it a illuminating box that accepts the A/V cables from its sources, sending that signal via loss-less passthrough to the television via HDMI and to the PC with a four-to-five second delay to the PC via USB. The middle of the box illuminates to different colors to signify the status of the box (idle, connected, recording, etc.), though memorizing what each color means can be a chore for new users. There is also a large, easy to access button on the top-front for one-touch recording onto one's PC. Sadly, it seems that, while the box has its own power supply, it needs to be connected to a computer at all times to allow for signal passthrough to a television. This is actually a much bigger inconvenience than it might sound to some, as those who just want to fire up their console of choice and play will first need to boot up whatever computer to which the HD PVR 2 is connected.
As for the PC side itself, the HD PVR 2 comes with a suite software. While not exactly streamlined, this patchwork assortment of different brands of software does get the job done. First, there's the easy-to-use (yet sometimes unresponsive) ArcSoft Showbiz program that allows for real-time recording to any one of three file types, rudimentary non-linear video editing capabilities, and the hand ability to upload directly to YouTube. For those wanting to brand their video, the included Hauppauge Personal Logo program will let users "burn" a custom-created logo onto their finished piece of video. Finally, a program called StreamEez allows gamers to livecast their gameplay sessions via services such as Ustream and Justin.tv.
As mentioned earlier, the Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition is quite capable and provides gamers with a rather good-quality end product, but it's not cheap. It sells at most retailers for around $160.00, compared to similar devices such as the component-only Roxio Game Capture ($85 at WalMart) and Diamond GC1000 ($129.99). Remember: You get what you pay for.
The Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition isn't a perfect device, but it does its job rather well with few complaints. One of those complaints -- the inability to have A/V passthrough to the television without being connected to a computer --- is big enough of an issue to warrant the advisement of prospective buyers to shop around. If this isn't an issue for you, the HD PVR 2 is a great choice. However, should this problem make you think twice about getting it, trust your instincts.