Hey, I'm Omar Ismail one of the founders of ProductWiki
If it's not obvious from my contributions to the site, I'm a huge gamer and think a lot about the game industry. You can catch me on Xbox Live with my gamertag: rastex. I prefer action games and crazy Japanese titles. Right now I'm addicted to Street Fighter 4. Really addicted.
When Hauppauge first contacted me in doing a review for this unit I was pretty pumped because I've always wanted to capture/broadcast my gaming exploits but never had a setup to do it. When I received the unit I was initially bummed out because it's an internal PCI card and I only had a laptop and a small HTPC, so I couldn't install the card in anything (I should have done more research first). I ended up exploiting the situation and convinced myself to upgrade my HTPC from a pre-built little guy into a nice custom desktop rig. Now that I was all setup we can get to the review
Installation was quite easy, just pop the card into the PCIe x1 slot, turn on the computer and install all the software and you're good to go. The card itself is quite thin and small so shouldn't have any difficulty being placed inside any but the smallest cases. There's no extra internal cables or anything necessary - the card is powered by the slot itself - so there's no extra cable clutter which is really nice. The outside of the unit is just a series of ports. The selection is very good with:
Since the component inputs are actually 5 ports each, Hauppauge uses a special adapter system. On the board itself are two thin HDMI looking ports where you plug in the adapters, and then you plug in your component cables into those adapters. It's a nice system but does add to making the back of your setup look even messier.
Since I'm not using my setup as a cable DVR I didn't get a chance to test out the IR blaster or remote. They both seem solid enough, and it's nice the box contains all the hardware you need to have a home PVR setup, but I just didn't use it.
My big disappointment on the hardware end of things is that there's no HDMI pass-through. This means if I hook up my Xbox 360 to the capture card through HDMI I can only view my Xbox 360's output on my computer. The problem with this is that there is a 2-3 second lag from when you press something on the controller and when it shows up on the captured output. This is fine as the capture card is doing a bunch of processing and encoding, but is obviously unusable from a gameplay perspective. That leaves one of two options: 1) use component output and component pass-through, or 2) buy an HDMI splitter.
At first I opted for using component, and I was surprised at how much of a hit in image quality I took. Here's a lesson to you: use HDMI output on your 360 it's a heck of a lot better. Since I'm a videophile snob I went out and bought a $50 powered HDMI splitter from Monoprice. It was definitely worth it.
There's a couple of videos that I captured below so you can see the difference between component and HDMI.
Bundled with the Colossus are two software packages: WinTV and Arcsoft's ShowBiz software. WinTV is used for DVR-ing your cable box, while the ShowBiz software is for capturing raw video content like with video games. Since I don't have cable and wasn't using the card for DVR purposes I didn't use the WinTV software at all.
The ShowBiz software is functional and gets the job done, but is quite basic. The capture settings are relatively straight forward, you specify which video input and which audio input you're capturing from and choose the bitrate you want the capture to be saved at. There's a toggle for turning on hardware acceleration on and off, but the whole point of the Colossus is the built in hardware encoders so I don't know why you'd ever turn the acceleration off. My guess is that they just put it there so you see how slow and choppy the capture is without the hardware acceleration. You can see a preview of what you're capturing and then you press the "record" button and the file is automatically saved and building as you're recording. There is a limit of 3 hours which is fine, but would've been nice if they gave some kind of warning instead of just stopping the capture.
Once you have a captured file it goes into your collection. From there you can do some very basic editing such as joining clips together, trimming sections from clips and adding additional audio. It must be made clear though that this is not a full video editing system. It is very basic and is enough for doing the minimum editing, but anything fancy will require a separate package.
The one nice thing about ShowBiz software is that it handles YouTube uploading for you. And more than that it will split long video files into 15 minute segments allowed by YouTube. The only issue with this system though is that the process goes:
The issue is around steps 2 and 3. First off, I don't know why the software has to first convert the video into WMV. It takes a really long time (I don't think it uses the built in encoder) and increases the storage space requirements that much more. Furthermore they ask you for the YouTube meta data AFTER the video has done converting. This is annoying from a practical perspective because you can't just start the process and leave it running over night. You don't know how long it's going to take for the video to convert, and it won't move onto uploading until you name and describe your video. So you have to keep checking the progress of the conversion which is really quite annoying.
It must also be noted that currently the Colossus doesn't work with a lot of 3rd party software. On the website Hauppauge has a list of software that is compatible and there's only one or two packages. What this means is that popular software that people use for capturing video won't work right out of the box. Instead you have to use some intermediate piece of software that takes the Colossus captures and then acts as its own capture device that is compatible with those packages. Yes it sounds complicated and annoying, and it is. So if you have a piece of software you really like, then definitely check to see if you can make the Colossus work nicely with it.
Example 1 - HDMI, 720p upload
Example 2 - Component, 720p upload
From the samples you can see the HDMI is of higher quality. It's difficult to fully appreciate with YouTube and all the compression and conversions that have happened, but on my TV screen the difference is night and day.
Ultimately the most important aspect for a capture card is the quality, and then the ease of use. From my experience the quality is top notch. There are no dropped frames, the resolution it captures at is extremely high and the hardware decoder lets the device maintain high frame rates (max 30) at all times. If you want a dead simple capture solution that just works, and you don't want to do anything fancy then the Colossus is easily recommended. Compared to the Roxio Game Capture device there's no competition. The price is only $50 more and the Roxio doesn't even handle HD resolutions.
What would make the Colossus the be-all-end-all of capture solutions is if it was more compatible with 3rd party software packages or the built-in software was slightly more capable. As of now it's a great capture solution that people wanting to get into it should take a long hard look at.
Run an online store?
Use ProductWiki Connect for Merchants to enhance your product page and improve conversions.
ProductWiki Inc. © 2013. All rights reserved. ver: 4.1.6
Powered by Bootic Inc.
Get the free iPhone App!
Don't have an account yet? Create one!
Already have an account? Log In
Login normally by cancelling.
Enter the e-mail address you used to register with the site and we'll send you a new password.
We've noticed that you've made a few contributions, but haven't yet created an account.
Click here to register for an account.
Benefits of registering:
If you would like to continue without an account, just close this box and it won't reappear.