There are an unhealthy amount of options when it comes to capture devices on the market. I know I have used several, and still never found one that met all of my needs in one slick package. Avermedia is the latest on that list of hopefuls, and after spending time with both the Game Capture HD II and Extremecap U3, I can say they both bring some awesome new features to the table, but also lack in a few areas.
This review will focus on the Extremecap U3, which is one of the smallest and most simplistic capture devices I have seen. It has three inputs on the back, one light on the front and comes in a tiny package. It is hefty in its weight, but extremely easy to store in my entertainment center between two consoles. I really like the look of the device, and it meshes with the rest of my electronics nicely.
The box comes with a quick start guide, a USB 3.0 cable (standard so it is easy to replace) and an extra wire to hook up component cables into the device for systems like the PS3. There is no HDMI cable bundled in, and no power cord needed as it uses the USB port to power the system.
This is where some of the drawbacks come into play. This device requires a USB 3.0 port, and is not compatible with all setups. However, when it works, it offers up something that no other capture device on the market has been able to accomplish – the stream on my PC had almost no visible lag, meaning I could play the game in the capture window, while also recording commentary, without any hiccups.
This is a must though because another lacking feature of the Extremecap U3 is that it doesn’t offer an HDMI pass-through. That means I had to use the window on my computer to monitor the action. I actually prefer this method, but I can see why some would prefer a pass-through to the TV.
Another downside is that all the software needed, including the drivers, are online only. There is no disc that comes with the device. Avermedia also offers up a nice piece of software called RECentral. I actually really love this capture software. It is slick, fast and intuitive, and I was up and recording in a matter of minutes. The menus are easy to navigate and changing settings such as mic volume and resolution are a simple drop-down menu away. It also has profiles that can be saved for various types of games or recordings.
When it comes to capturing video, the Extremecap U3 does an excellent job, with resolutions up to 1080p and framerates at 60. This is one of the only devices to offer this high level of quality, but it comes with some caveats. For starters, the device claims to output uncompressed video, which simply isn’t the case. There were several times when recording faster-paced games like Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 where artifacting did occur. When considering that most of these videos are shot up to YouTube, which we all know isn’t the best quality, this isn’t as big of a deal, but for videophiles it can be frustrating because of what the device claims to do.
Files are output to MP4, which is great for size, and there is even an option for streaming to the web. It all works well, and for those wanting a little more customization for their videos, the U3 also supports software like Sony’s Vegas or Adobe Premiere.
While I did have a lot of issues with the device, it is now actually my preferred way to capture console footage. It’s USB 3.0 speed and ability to record seemingly lag-free video and commentary are a must for what I do, and the Extremecap U3 does all of those things very well. The price tag is a little high, but it delivers great output for those looking to capture game footage with commentary, with as little setup as possible. The small design is also fantastic for storing it next to game machines without a big clunky box sticking out in my entertainment center.
Recommendation: Great for beginners looking for simplicity and convenience.
Review copy of hardware provided by publisher.