Top Five: Which Capture Device?

This entry is a follow-up to the rather popular How To Strip HDCP from HDMI blog post. There’s lots of comments asking questions for which devices they can use to capture their newly stripped HDMI signal. It all depends on your need and connections. See the table below for prices, video formats and connections. For your convenience, here’s my…

Top Five HDMI Capture Devices

Device Cost HDMI in HDMI Out RGB YUV Composite S-Video
AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable £119 / $155 Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
Blackmagic Intensity Extreme £205 / $285 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Matrox MX02 Mini £320 / $390 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Blackmagic Intensity Shuttle £140 / $190 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Blackmagic Intensity Pro £140 / $190 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

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AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable AVermedia Live Gamer Portable

  • PC or Mac
  • Captures: HDMI / Component
  • Cost: £119 via Amazon
  • Interface: USB 2.0 / SD Card
  • Maximum Resolution: 1080p
  • Can record directly onto SD Card at up to 1080p 16MBs
  • Passthru functionality

My number 1 recommended option. I use this daily. Cheap, easy HDMI capture, records via USB or SD Card. The AVermedia Live Gamer Portable is designed for gamers who want to capture and/or stream their gameplay online. However, purely as an HDMI capture device, it works a treat. Plug it into your PC or Mac and capture in .MP4 or .TS format straight to your hard drive via USB at up to 1080p 60MBs.

Alternatively flip the switch on the front of the device and record straight onto an SD Card (Class 10 or faster) at up to 1080p 16MBs.

The device is powered via USB, so no additional power supply needed. It’s no bigger than an average smart-phone. It also comes with a Component A/V cable to allow you to capture RGB/YUV too.

Bear in mind this device does NOT capture a Composite signal (the single yellow phono cable). The image will just display is fuzzy black and white.

This capture device also has the added bonus of having a separate Mic/Line IN, so you can have the video from your games machine giving you the video, and you can add your own commentary with the separate Mic/Line IN.

The latest software versions of RECentral now also works for Mac. Download the latest firmware and software here.

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Blackmagic Intensity Extreme

Blackmagic Intensity Extreme

  • PC or Mac
  • captures: 8-bit HDMI / Component / Composite / S-video
  • Cost: £205 via Amazon
  • Interface: Thunderbolt or Firewire
  • Maximum Resolution: 1080p
  • Passthru functionality

A close second place. Although this device has all the input connections you could need to capture, I personally bought the Matrox MX02 with MAX (below) for editing before I knew about the AVerMedia LGP, as it has additional functions editors can exploit (the “MXo2 Mini with MAX” for external rendering).

Having used one of these myself, I came across a frustrating issue where the device doesn’t auto-recognise the HDMI input signal. You have to set the input signal in the Preferences in order for an image to be displayed and captured. If you don’t know what the input signal is, you’ll have to manually set each one till your video is displayed. Quite frustrating.

I’ve also stated it as 8-bit, as there’s a plethora of mixed messages about the capability of the Intensity range. I’ve read it records 8-bit signals, but can play back 10-bit. Quite a difference. Needs confirmation.

It’s option 2 in this list of HDMI capture devices due to price compared to others.

Page Divider   Matrox MX02 Mini

Matrox MX02 Mini

  • PC or Mac
  • Captures: 10-bit HDMI / Component / Composite / S-Video
  • Cost: £320 via / $390 via B&H
  • Interface: Thunderbolt / ExpressCard/34
  • Maximum Resolution: 1080p
  • Passthru functionality

Number 3 option (*although see update below). More costly, but can capture any sort of input, auto recognises resolutions, fantastic for on-the-go editors. Added bonus of MAX technology for external encoding of MP4 (buy the “with MAX” version).

The Matrox MX02 Mini is a powerful external capture device, capable of capturing 10-bit HDMI, Component, YUV, RGB, PAL, NTSC, and any other format under the sun. This device is aimed at editors on-the-go. It connects to your PC or Mac via ExpressCard/34. If your MacBookPro doesn’t use ExpressCard there’s an adapter that converts it to Thunderbolt.

There’s also another version of this device called the Matrox MX02 With MAX. The added “with MAX” allows editors to export and encode their MP4 videos externally using the Matrox hardware which is faster-than-realtime. It’s a little more costly at £430. It should be noted that the MX02 can also be used as a professional monitoring system. The HDMI Out has a Colour Calibration facility, making your output monitor as professional as it can get. Other capture devices do not offer this.

One negative point to discuss are the Mac drivers. There’s currently no unified set of drivers that apply to all software. This means if you use several different applications, there might not be a unified set of drivers that make the device compatible with all your software. For example, if you have both Final Cut Pro 7 and Adobe Premiere 6.0 on your Mac, you need to use drivers 2.6.1 for it to work with FCP, and drivers 3.3.0 to work with Premiere. There isn’t a set of drivers that work for both.

*UPDATE: I’d move this to last on the list. Matrox aren’t updating drivers anymore, and so as of Sept 2015 the thing is essentially useless. No drivers for OSX 10.11. Can’t capture anything with their software, nothing works.

Page Divider Blackmagic Intensity Shuttle Thunderbolt Blackmagic Intensity Shuttle

  • PC or Mac
  • Captures: 8-bit HDMI / Component / Composite / S-Video
  • Cost: £140 / $190 via Amazon
  • Interface: USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt
  • Maximum Resolution: 1080p
  • Passthru functionality

Plastic build. The same specs as the Extreme edition, except connects via USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt (not on the same device. Buy one or the other!).

The Shuttle also allegedly has more capability but it limited by the USB 3.0 connection, although may be “unlocked” with future firmware upgrades.

Page Divider   Blackmagic Intensity pro PCIe Blackmagic Intensity Pro

  • PC or Mac
  • Captures: 8-bit HDMI / Component / Composite / S-Video
  • Cost: £150 via Amazon or eBay
  • Interface: PCIe
  • Maximum Resolution: 1080p
  • Passthru functionality

Does everything the Shuttle can do, except its a PCIe internal card. Compatible with both PC and Mac.

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NOTE. Prices correct as of March 2014.

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