At a Glance
- Relatively inexpensive package
- Easy to set up
- Capture resolution limited to 480p
- Buggy editing software
Software bugs will deter casual users.
The Rovi Roxio Game Capture package aims to solve an age-old problem for gamers: How to preserve those shining moments of victory. Game Capture ($100, price as of 3/30/2011) is a basic hardware and software bundle aimed at helping you quickly get set up and running to record your PC and console gaming adventures. Unfortunately, it has a significant set of drawbacks that could alienate both beginners and advanced users. (Roxio, a longtime multimedia software developer, is now a subsidiary of Rovi.)
Gamers relish the opportunity to crush their enemies, and then share the replay video on YouTube for further public embarrassment. However, setting your PC and console up so you can capture your finest moments in Call of Duty can cost a decent chunk of time and money–you need a video capture card that works with all your equipment, plus a set of decent apps for recording and editing the footage. Game Capture tries to make this process a ton easier by packing everything you need in one $100 box.
Setting up the Roxio Game Capture hardware is relatively simple: It’s an external USB-powered video capture device, so you just plug the USB cable into your PC, then plug your game console’s audio and component video cables into the capture box, and connect the capture box to your TV. The advertised system requirements are fairly low (Windows XP, 1.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo or 2GHz AMD Athlon X2 64, DirectX 9.0 graphics card and 2GB of RAM), so your PC shouldn’t have to be a gaming beast to use it with the Roxio Game Capture.
The Roxio Game Capture app is a basic, no-frills video capture utility: It has a preview window, a few settings you can tweak, such as the video encoder (DIVX, WMV, AVI) and the default saving location; it also features some basic storage stats so you don’t fill up your hard drive unexpectedly, and a big Start/Stop Recording button.
Unfortunately, the capture hardware is equally as no-frills. While you can capture video in 480p, 576p, 720p, or 1080i format, it can only output 480p, meaning you’re basically limited to a standard definition video feed of your gaming exploits. Considering many live video gaming streams these days easily hit 720p, your videos simply won’t look as good as anyone who shelled out the extra $100 or so for a 720p capture card. What’s more, since Roxio Game Capture can’t handle a 1080p video feed, you won’t be able to play your game in 1080p while you’re recording. And in case you missed it above, the Game Capture supports only component video, so you won’t be able to use your HDMI cables.
I tested the Roxio Game Capture on five different PCs in all: An older Dell Windows 7 laptop that hit the minimum specs (1.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2GB of RAM), a home-built Windows XP desktop (3.2GHz AMD Phenom II X4 CPU, 4GB of RAM), a home-built Windows 7 desktop (3.4GHz Core i5, 4GB of RAM), a Lenovo Windows 7 laptop (2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB of RAM), and an Asus Windows 7 laptop (2.26GHz Intel Core i5, 4GB of RAM). At first, I had some performance issues with the Dell laptop that led to some completely unusable captured video (see below for a sample clip), but if no background apps were running I was able to capture video that was generally okay with the occasional stutter or audio glitch here and there. The other four systems worked fine–you can watch the clips below for examples of the best-case and worst-case capture scenarios.
Separately, the Roxio Game Capture device worked well perfectly as a video input for other video apps–see our Screencasting how-to for an example of other potential uses for video capture devices.
Editing Your Game Video
Once you’re done capturing your video, you can open up Roxio VideoWave to get started editing. The included version of Roxio VideoWave offers features similar to those found in the video component of Roxio’s other products, such as Roxio Easy Media Creator 2011, but with a few interface tweaks. You can throw together a quick pastiche of video clips with transitions with the simplified Storyline editing mode, or you can use the Timeline mode, which is the same general view found in most midrange to high-end video editing apps that lets you fine-tune your video down to each individual frame.
If you’re simply looking to get your video onto YouTube with a few basic effects, like a text overlay or some background music, Storyline mode is your best bet–just trim the clips to the length you like and add the effects you want from the handy Add Content sidebar. The effects here are mostly pretty gaudy, which is great for informal videos that record your dominance but not much else. (You can see a few of them in this demo video.) Once you spend a few minutes sorting through all the odd, garish effects to find the few clean ones, you’ll be all set to make a good-looking game clip.
Even though I usually prefer timeline mode in other video editing apps, I found I preferred using Storyline mode in VideoWave; most of my gameplay videos didn’t need extensive editing, and the Storyline mode was relatively quick and easy. That said, VideoWave felt sluggish on both my Lenovo Core 2 Duo laptop and my Asus Core i5 laptop–both of which have handled video editing chores just fine in other applications. But in VideoWave, Timeline mode was too slow, another reason I ended up working in Storyline mode. Hopefully this is something that can be addressed in a software update, because right now you’ll probably need to use a separate video editing app if you need any deeper editing work done.
I also ran into a handful of annoying, if not show-stopping, software bugs that made it harder to finish the video editing and get back to playing games. Product registration nag screens would freeze up on occasion, preventing me from getting into the capture or editing apps. Certain functions, like the Export to YouTube option in VideoWave, simply refused to work on one of my test PCs. While I was ultimately able to get the video captured, edited, and uploaded, the frequent buggy setbacks were a tremendous pain that would deter casual users.
The promise of the Roxio Game Capture kit is as a cheap and easy way for video newbies to share their gaming highlights, but the Roxio Game Capture’s $100 price doesn’t factor in the time you’ll spend wrestling with the software. Patch up those issues, however, and we’d have a solid contender on our hands.