Review: Hauppauge HD PVR 2 GE

Meeting all of your video capture needs

Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition

In order to jump on the bandwagon and create your own YouTube gaming channel, you need a couple of things — a microphone and a video capture device. Today we're going to take a look at a video capture device, the HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition from Hauppauge.

So You Want to Be the Next Youtube Gaming Star

While recording audio for a gaming YouTube channel is pretty much plug and play with the right microphone, recording sick video footage of yourself playing "Tetris," "The Pinball Arcade" or "Adventure Time" or whatever is quite a bit harder. You generally need a video capture device and a PC or laptop to record to (or at the very least, edit the video, since some capture devices have onboard storage options). Getting a good capture device can be costly, so this is where things start getting expensive. And if you want to use a good video editor, you're going to have to pay for it (though Microsoft Movie Maker is free and does a decent job when you're first starting out, though it definitely doesn't give you any fancy features).


Hauppauge has a wide selection of video capture devices with different features — including some with onboard storage options — but we're only going to talk about the HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition today. 

The HDPVR2 GE comes with the unit itself, A/C power cord, USB cable, component video adapter, and HDMI cable, as well as a disc with drivers and the Showbiz recording software. The unit is kind of cool and futuristic looking, with a button on the top to start/stop your recording, and a color-coded light to tell you when you're ready to record and when it is actually recording. 

The HDPVR2 GE allows you to capture up to 1080p resolution, but only at 30FPS. You can, however, capture 720p at 60FPS. There are also lots of other resolutions to choose from in between, so you can easily use whatever you need. Keep in mind that high res and high framerate videos are going to be huge file sizes, particularly at a high enough bitrate to make recording at that level worthwhile, so if you don't have a monster PC that can handle the huge video files, or superfast broadband so you can actually upload those huge videos, you're probably better off recording at a lower quality. For example, we personally use 720p 30FPS, just to keep the file sizes reasonable. 


The way the HDPVR2 GE (and just about all current-gen capture devices) works is that it has an HDMI pass-through where you plug your game console into the HDPVR2 via HDMI, and then connect the HDPVR2 to your TV via HDMI, and also to your PC or laptop with USB. It has to be noted that you really do have to plug it into your TV because if you try to actually play a game through the video feed on your PC / laptop monitor, there is a 3-5 second delay in the video, which renders it pretty much unplayable. If you also connect to your TV via the HDMI pass-through on the unit, however, there won't be any delay in what you see on your TV. The recording itself, of course, is not affected by the delay. 

In addition to recording through HDMI, the HDPVR2 GE also comes with an adapter that lets you connect component video cables (red, green, blue video, red/white audio), which you need to record PS3 gameplay or older game systems you can connect with the component. The unit still outputs video to your TV via HDMI with this setup. You can also buy a composite adapter (the yellow video cable, red/white audio cables) to record old-school game systems for an extra cost (though the unit can't output video via HDMI in this mode, so you need to split the a/v signal with an extra set of cables so one goes into the HDPVR2, and the other goes to your TV). 

We've used all of these setups — HDMI, component, composite — to record Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, SNES, Wii, Wii U, and N64 and the quality is great for all of them. The ability of the HDPVR2 family to record composite video is actually pretty significant, as most of the current-gen of capture devices only do component and HDMI (and many of them only do HDMI), so if you want to record old-school game systems, this is something to think about. You can actually buy other devices meant for composite or s/video connections, which are generally a lot cheaper than these high definition capture devices, but it is nice to have everything in one box like the HDPVR2 GE. 


The software the comes with the HDPVR2 GE is decent enough. You get lots of options for setting the resolution, frame rate, and bitrate of your recordings. You can also start/stop the recording either via a button in the software on your PC/laptop or with a physical button on top of the HDPVR2 itself. Hauppauge also has a newer software package you can download that adds a lot of interesting features the included Arcsoft Showbiz software doesn't have. This Hauppauge Capture software lets you sync your audio commentary while you record (and saves it as one video file, rather than separate audio and video files) and you can also add a face cam of any size and position, which will also be recorded to that single video file. This really makes recording easy. 

In addition to recording videos to edit later, the HDPVR2 GE also lets you stream to Twitch, USTREAM, and YouTube with the same Hauppauge Capture software. Normally to stream, you need a separate video streaming program, but it is built into the software here, which is nice. The Hauppauge Capture software also has an audio delay feature, so you can line up your commentary audio with the video your viewers will see on the stream (otherwise, there would be a delay as we mentioned above). 

Bottom Line

We have been using the HDPVR 2 Gaming Edition for years now and are really happy with it. It might be a little costly, but you are getting really nice high-quality video recording, and the ability to record HDMI, component, and composite with one box is awesome. The Hauppauge Capture software also adds a ton of extra features, and it is free. It is kind of a bummer that you have to plug it into the wall, which if your gaming setup is like ours your power outlets are probably full, but that is really the only sacrifice you have to make. We haven't had any hardware problems while using the unit that a new set of drivers didn't fix (and Hauppauge is great about releasing new drivers pretty regularly) so it has been very smooth and easy to use. It is a solid option if you're looking for a video capture device.