There are lots of different gaming recording devices out there, all with their own benefits and flaws. In fact, I think I have 3 or 4 of them sitting in my living room right now. Each come with their own set of benefits and consequences. Some have crystal clear recording but they make your on screen display shaky. Some are overrun with more wiring than a poorly put together 10th grade robotic science project. Some of the older devices just weren’t worth the trouble of hooking up. Thankfully, as we continue to use easier input sources like HDMI, the devices we can capture video footage from are just as easy to use. Before long, we get into a groove and it’s all about what benefits the device can offer for the least effort.
That’s where the Hauppauge HD PVR Rocket comes in.
When you think of the word rocket, you think of a few things. Maybe you’re a Montreal Canadians fan and think of Maurice Richard. Or you’re a Canucks fan and you think Pavel Bure. Both had something in common with this rocket: They made it all look easy. The Hauppauge device takes only a couple of minutes to hook up and you can start recording in one of two ways:
- Direct to a USB Stick
- Footage saved on your PC
The PC hookup is similar to competitor Elgato’s setup. The device is a passthrough between the console to the TV via HDMI (Mostly. Appropriate hookups for PlayStation 3 are included as well) and to your PC via USB. The device will configure itself with your PC, and then you download the software from Hauppauge’s website to get started. Hauppauge includes the URL for the download in the instructions, but the link doesn’t point directly to the software. You’ve got to read a little bit about what it does, and select one of the tabs off the website’s navigation to get it done. You MUST have the device plugged into your PC to install the software, or else it won’t even try to get started.
Between that and getting the device hooked up, that is the only difficulty you’re going to have. Everything is so simple with this device that it’s self-explanatory. If you’ve hooked up and configured a video game system in the history of ever, this is child’s play in comparison. The software basically guides you through everything you need to do or change with dropdowns and easy to select options, or you can just press record and do just fine. The box comes with everything you could possibly need (including an HDMI cable and a lapel mic) so there’s no additional purchase required. The software will even let you upload your raw footage direct to Youtube, or take it through an immediate cutting room floor on the spot. It will also tell you how long you’ve recorded, and how much hard drive space that particular video is taking up. While you may see a 2-3 second delay between your game and what shows up on your PC, it’s actually a no delay recording, so there’s going to be no issues with your audio (including microphone recordings) and video not syncing.
If you don’t want to use your PC, you don’t even have to. Just plug a USB stick into the available slot on the device, and you can record off the device by pushing the big red button on it. You can even do your audio recordings and voiceovers with the mic that way. This absolutely blew my mind because I’ve never had the chance to play with a recorder like this, and I definitely put it through its paces, watching it pass with flying colors each time. It’s basically plug and play, so you can’t go wrong with it. You can even hook up an external hard drive and record straight to that. Just be aware that it must be USB 2.0 or 3.0 compatible, and needs a transfer rate of at least 2.5 MBPS. This shouldn’t be an issue for 99% of newer gear though.
These devices are really as good, or as strong as the footage they output, and I’m happy to say the Hauppauge HD PVR Rocket does it all right here too. I’ve had devices that dropped frames, or cut out footage before. I had no such trouble here. There also is no limit to the length of the video footage you can record off your PC (your hard drive space aside.) While you can film lengthy videos directly to your USB stick as well, it will cap each video at 2GB and then automatically close the recording down. That in its default setting is still approximately 30 minutes of consecutive recording. One thing for PC users to be aware of is because you’re passing the video feed from the system directly to the device, and then onto the TV, you can’t shut down your PC or laptop in the middle of your gameplay or else you lose your video feed. I learned that the hard way when my unplugged laptop flashed a low battery message and I closed it without even thinking about the fact that I was using it to as a passthrough. Oops!
The HD PVR Rocket has one design flaw that I think is characteristic of a lot of the other devices in its class – It’s too light and hollow feeling. I get that it’s supposed to be a pocket device, and easy to tote around, but I wish they’d do something to reinforce the bodies of these things a bit better to brace for some impact, or the fact that it’ll be sitting on the floor half the time primed for an errant foot stepping on it. This was the major long term problem I had with the Elgato too, which is my normal day to day recording device. Whomever can find a way to create a device with a stronger outer shell (even if it’s a little heavier) and makes me feel better at ease with these things will get my next recording device cash when I’m in the market for another (or my devices now get lapped by, say, 4K recorders when that time comes.)
But overall, this is the most comprehensive recording device I’ve ever used. Hauppauge could probably stand to make the body feel a little less flimsy, but everything else is all systems go. The fact that you can plug a USB stick in and just push-button record off the device pushes this toward the top of its class alone. Then you add in the fact that you can plug in pretty well any recording microphone, and record your voice in realtime (while manipulating audio levels for both) is outstanding. It encodes at H.264 (Youtube friendly for all of you that want to show off) and records in 1080p! That seals a fantastic triple threat for this device. The fact that it does all of this for less than the price of the device I own and considered the current industry leader (Elgato – which doesn’t have a mic out) makes this, in my opinion, the best introductory gaming recording device out there. You can pretty well use it on any gaming device that supports HDMI (except Playstation 3, but the hookups for that are included.) Honestly, chances are while i call this your introductory advice, you probably don’t need anything but this for your day to day recording.
If you’re looking for a gaming capture device, you’ve got a winner on your hands here. Not only will this work with all the next gens (WiiU included,) the last gens and your PC, but Hauppauge’s website states it will work with many retro gaming consoles as well. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to dust off my Nintendo 64, and I’ve unplugged all my other retro consoles and took apart my secondary entertainment unit since our baby arrived so I didn’t get the chance to spot check this claim, but I’m sure that with the right hookups, this is easily attainable. I wouldn’t expect anything less from this device.
Overall Rating: 4.75 / 5
The Hauppauge HD PVR Rocket is worth every penny and now available at Best Buy and BestBuy.ca.