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Hauppauge HD Rocket PVR Review

…This powerful little black box is the answer to all your Game Capture needs...…

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I have always wanted to try out Game Capturing. I felt that it was a vital tool when writing about video games to show gameplay backing up points I make about a game whilst reviewing it as a video can sometimes show in more detail far more then text on a page. With Youtube offering a completely free way of editing and sharing videos, the only thing required was a game capture device. Many companies offer choices in kit to help make this happen and the leading company is Hauppauge. Recently at a Press Preview event of Titanfall, for the first time I was given the chance to use game capture to record gameplay of a new game in order to share it with the TiX community, that device was the Hauppauge HD Rocket PVR.

What makes the HD Rocket PVR stand out, is the unique feature of the device being designed to be used as a portable game capture device. The ability to take it with you to a friends house, take with you if you are gaming in a different location from home or for me as a writer to preview game events to capture gameplay. Whenever I thought about doing Game Capture recording, before the New Generation of consoles including the PVR ability, was of cables across my front room connected to my laptop and playing around with settings before actually loading up any game. The Rocket does away with all these shenanigans and presents the user with a quick and easy set up which only requires a console, a TV and a USB flash drive.

Set up took literally less then five minutes, it actually took longer moving my entertainment stand out the way and back again then it took to get the rocket Connected to the console. Powered by USB via the back of the Xbox, all you have to do is connect the HDMI cable from the console into the rocket, then a HDMI cable from the Rocket to your TV and you are good to go. Everything you need comes with the Rocket out of the box and because of its portable design, will make it an easy set up wherever you take the kit to go game Capturing. The back of the Rocket is simplistically genius making for an easy set up even if you are unfamiliar with setting up cables on devices.

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The Rocket handles all the hard work of video processing as well. Capturing in full 1080P HD resolution every time and with the ability to use a USB flash drive instead of connecting it to a laptop or PC, you literally only have to set it up, pick what game you want to capture and once ready to record, simply hit the big red button and you are good to go. It really is that simple and easy. The Rocket using a light band to indicate it’s system state. When in standby mode the Rocket will flash Red. After inserting a USB Flash drive it takes less then ten seconds for the Rocket to recognize the flash drive, check it, and turn Green indicating that it is ready to go. When you start recording the Rocket goes red, and again, a second press of the big red button and in under ten seconds the Rocket processes the recording and there you go. A game capture recording on your Flash drive that can be immediately uploaded to Youtube or to a video editing software for you to play with further.

The Rocket handles everything, which for someone like me who has never done any form of game capturing before or editing, having a video file that is complete and ready to go makes this kit essential and superb to enter the world of game capturing for the first time. You are also able to record voice commentary by way of connecting a microphone to the front of the Rocket, and as you record your game footage you can add your voice to it which again, the Rocket will process it into one file which is ready to go in seconds after you end the recording. It would be great if the Rocket had the option of connecting a HDMI microphone but for the portability that the Rocket is designed for, its understandable why it is built this way.

The Rocket, whilst connected to a laptop or PC, will process one file for the duration of the recording. Whilst using a USB Flash drive, the Rocket is clever not to produce a file so big it would take a good many hours to upload to Youtube. The Rocket will break the recording down into files no bigger then just over 2GB. That equates to just over 18 minutes of gameplay recording. When it reaches the 2GB limit it simply makes another file and beings a new portion. Once the recording session is over, you can take each file and edit them seamlessly back together using your video editing software or using the free tools provided by Youtube. Depending on the speed of your internet connection, uploading for me of a 2GB file to Youtube took just over two hours but this is also affected by Youtube and how busy it is as a site. Using  Flash Drive with the Rocket was perfect for me. Once I knew the recording time frame limit of using one, I was able to plan out the game capture so that I could keep it to a single file and if I did go over the 2GB file it was painless to edit the two video files together creating one video file to be shared.

The Hauppauge HD Rocket PVR is the most impressive Game Capture kit I have come across. It offers solutions to those looking to minimize their own recording set up and gives a quick, simple and powerful set up to anyone looking to start Game Capture recording for the first time. Just to have a bit of kit that does all the hardwork for you and provides you with a video file that is instantly ready to be used and uploaded for me, changes the entire way I look at game capturing. The thought of having to have cables lying across my front room just to capture some video has completely gone now. The Rocket sits nicely next to my console, and all I have to do is walk over to it, put in a USB Flash Drive and press the red button when I want to record something, press it again when I am done then upload the files on the flash drive via my laptop and in less then an hour I have a video on Youtube that is ready to be shared on social media or in a review of a new game. I have yet to find another bit of kit that is capable of doing this, right out of the box that does not require anymore set up then under five minutes of cable attaching.

For those who enjoy looking at the technical specs of hardware, below are the specs of the HD Rocket PVR:

  • Hardware encoder:
    • H.264 AVCHD high definition video encoder, video encode up to 1080p30 from HDMI or component video.
  • No delay HDMI pass through:
    • HDMI or component in to HDMI out.
  • Recording data rate:
    • 1 to 18 Mbits/sec.
  • Recording formats:
    • MP4 in standalone mode, TS in PC connected mode.
  • USB thumb drive compatibility
    • USB 2.0 or USB 3.0
    • Size: from 1GB to 32GB
    • Minimum transfer rate: 2.5 Mbytes/sec
    • External hard disc compatibility: any self powered external storage drive with at least 2.5Mbytes/sec transfer rate
  • Audio mixer:
    • Mixes game audio with microphone audio
    • Supports both powered and unpowered microphones.
    • Microphone volume adjust, +20db boost and mute.
  • Input/output connections:
    • HDMI from Xbox, PC game systems or other HDMI sources without HDCP.
    • Component video in from a PS3 with stereo audio.
    • 3.5mm microphone jack.
    • USB thumb drive connector.
    • HDMI output.
  • Size:
    • 4.75 inches x 3.5 inches x 1.5 inches.
  • Power:
    • 5v @ 0.9 amps
  • Weight: 4.6 oz
  • Bundled with Hauppauge Capture software applicaiton:
    • Record your game play to your PC.
    • Record game commentary with game audio.
    • Fast trim.
    • Upload to YouTube.

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The HD Rocket PVR has opened up so many new way for me to enhance my game writing and my overall enjoyment of playing games through sharing cool moments with my gamer friends or recording online game playing with my friends that I really cannot imagine not using the Rocket going forward in my writing or video gaming. Currently with an RRP of £139, Hauppauge have delivered on the most valuable bit of kit in my video game set up and for me, essential for anyone looking to start their own social video channel for video games. So much power in that little box, it is mind blowing what it is capable of doing and I highly recommend it.

Posted By: - Can be followed on Xbox LIVE as "Cokney Charmer"

Gamer, Gooner, Whovian, Spartan, Son of Batman, Assassin and Legend - Merc with a Pen (keyboard) Gaming Journalist and Events writer for thisisxbox
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