What gamer — hardcore or otherwise — hasn’t wanted to capture that moment when he’s played the perfect game or gotten that final Boss? Heck this is why so many gamers will sit back and watch other gamers play, even when it’s a recorded YouTube video, just so as to imagine that supreme moment. But capturing video while you’re gaming is a pain because if you’re on a PC, that means an expensive gaming-enabled video card, and if using a game console, having to wire up some device that makes you work for it. Not to mention that it’s not happening if you’re gaming at a friend’s house. That’s why AVerMedia’s Live Gamer Portable (LGP) is worth paying $179.99 for. This compact recorder has a built-in hardware encoder and storage capacity, low-latency to the point of non-interference (300 milliseconds), plenty of inputs (HDMI and Component connections and a pass-through via HDMI along with audio) and most of all is portable as all get out.
Since portability’s the big thing, I had decided a really good test of the LGP would be to use it on a game console in a hectic situation — so I took it to the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) with me and cajoled one of the companies showing their stuff in a meeting room to let me set it up. It took about 5 minutes to mate it with the PS3 in the room (didn’t hurt that there’s a dedicated PS3 HDMI input) and I recorded about 5 minutes before removing the SD card, putting it into a video player I had brought along that could handle the H.264 file and played it back on the LCD screen. Suddenly I was Mr. Popular as everyone said to hell with talking up their product as they all wanted to try out the LGP, yeah the results were that good. One game developer even shared with me that this would make it a lot easier for him to share animations with his fellows.
But the LGP can be used with a PC too, which is important since PC video gaming is huge. So I took it to my friend’s Steve’s house to use with his PC. Connecting it took 5 minutes and since the LGP’s hardware encoding didn’t rely on the PC’s CPU, there wasn’t any slowdowns or glitches during the time the gaming was going on — pressing the logo/button at the top started it recording and another press stopped it. We did load in software first from Avermedia (a driver and an operation program), but that only took a couple of minutes. What we had recorded was saved onto the SD card (FAT32 formatted) and since the bit-rate encoding can be modified, going with 720p@60fps instead of 1080p meant the 32GB card had more free space than we needed. Of course popping in a replacement SD card makes storage concerns no big deal. The button’s color coded too: it’s a solid Blue when connected with a PC and red with another device like a console. During recordings, the color flashes differently, depending on what is being done (for example, blue with streaming). His teenage son did the demo’ing for us — basically we watched and remembered what our reflexes used to be like as he blasted his way through games. Playback was smooth and there wasn’t any smearing, even when big explosions or fast moving objects were appearing onscreen.
Because of the low-latency, the chances of simultaneous gaming audio recordings (basically commentary recorded at the same time as the game video) getting out of sync is far less likely to happen — the two times I tried it the audio synced fine (this bodes well if streaming is being used with the LGP). The mike I used was inherently louder than the game audio, but if it hadn’t been, a few adjustments through the program would have taken care of it. And while I didn’t do it, it was good knowing that the audio can be recorded as a separate file for modification or other alteration uses.
Bottom line: The single most important thing when recording a video game is that there’s no discernible latency issues to slow up the visuals. AVerMedia’s Live Gamer Portable is a well constructed, workable solution for recording video game play from pretty much anything that outputs a gaming signal.
HDCP protection limits PS3 recordings to 720p
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.