AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable C875
The Live Gamer Portable (referred to from now on as the LGP) is AVerMedia’s latest entry into the game footage capture market. It is designed to record footage from a PC, PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii U but will also work with any type of component connection which means it will be compatible with some of the older consoles such as the Wii and Gamecube, however you will not be able to record anything that use only the old yellow, white and red composite cables to connect to a TV.
The LGP can record in up to 1080p at 60 Mbps, which in plain english means very high quality, high definition video. A big feature of the LGP is the ability to record straight to an SD card without the need for a PC, which is rare among capture devices. AVerMedia continues to support the device with new firmware and drivers and a recent firmware update has enabled recording to the SD card in 1080p. Buyers should be aware that only an SD card of Speed Class 10 is able to be used with this feature, so you should factor in the extra cost of a new SD card if you are considering purchasing the LGP. I didn’t have access to a Class 10 SD card at the time of this review so I can’t say too much about the straight to SD card functionality, but from the manuals it seems very simple to do and I would recommend it as the way to go when recording from a PS3, but this will be touched on later.
Let’s start with what’s in the box and the device itself. The contents of the box feature a large assortment of cables and some other goodies, including:
- Live Gamer Portable recording unit.
- Quick Installation Guide
- HDMI Cable
- Component Video/Stero Audio Dongle Cable
- Mini USB Cable (which is the sole way of powering the device)
- 3.5 mm Audio Cable
- PS3 Cable
- Protective Bag
- 3 Month Complimentry Trial to XSplit, which allows you to live stream your recorded footage.
The device itself is small, stylish and durable. Truly representative of the name portable, the device is light and about the size of an iPhone 5. All the functonality and inputs and outputs are clear and obvious to the user. The cables are all of a decent length and appear very durable while the included protective bag is made of a nice soft suede like material which will protect your LGP from the elements while you are carrying it around. In terms of system requirements nothing special is required. The LGP ran perfectly on my very basic non-gaming laptop and I saw no performance issues at all. Windows 7/8 are required and Apple fans will be disapointed to learn that the LGP is incompatible with MAC’s.
My first twenty minutes or so trying to set up the device to record my Playstation 3 was rather frustrating. While the manual describes how to connect the device to the PS3 which is simple enough, it doesn’t explain the settings that you have to change. It wasn’t until I went to download the firmware update and latest drivers (which took about 20 minutes along with downloading and installing the latest RECorder software) that a note was present that contained a link to a YouTube video that explained the connection process step by step. These instructions were clear and easy to follow but needless to say the PS3 connection guide should have been easier to find.
If you are planning to switch alot between recording your PS3 (I can’t speak for the other consoles) through the LGP to a laptop and just playing through a standard HDMI connection, be prepared for alot of fussing around with cables and settings. The picture quality on the television became saturated with brighter colours and lost some sharpness when played through the LGP connection, but it wasn’t too large of a change and the picture quality showing the recording on the computer seemed unaffected, so the lower picture quality shouldn’t carry over to your recordings.
All that being said, once you get it up and running the simplicity and functionality of the LGP begins to shine through. Recording is as simple as pressing the ‘hot button’ on top of the device. No software needs to be open but you can have the RECentral software open to see the recording and adjust settings. Stopping a recording is just as easy with just another tap of the button. The light atop the LGP let’s you know the status of the device and this works great for somethings but not for others. An example of when this works is how the light stays one colour when in standby but then will pulse red when recording, letting you know all is going well. An example of when this isn’t so great is when theres an error, as I encountered when first trying to record straight to an SD card. I was then aware there was an error, but was not sure how to handle it as I didn’t know what the error was. The device could of been telling me there was an error with me using the wrong SD card or perhaps there was something wrong with my setup which was also the case.
The picture quality the LGP can record in is really stunning and doesn’t disapoint. The good thing about reviewing a device like this is that I can easily let the picture quality talk for itself. The above picture of Tekken Revolution was taken using the LGP’s frame catpure and you can also view the videos below to get a feel for the quality I am talking about. Both videos were recorded in 720p however the first video featuring footage from The Last Of Us was captured with a tiny 0.3 mbps where as the second video was taken with 12 mbps. As you can see 0.3 mbps is far from the best quality, especially with alot of movement on screen, but still manages to provide a good picture and is still a decent option if you are low on storage space. This six minute video weighs in at a mere 48 MB. The video is better viewed in HD, so click here to view the below video on YouTube if you wish.
In comparison, the second video below recorded at 12mbps provides a very clear picture, but the file size comes in at 143 MB for a video that has a duration of only 1:40. Again, the difference is more visible in HD, click here to view the below video on YouTube and set the quality to 720p to see what I’m talking about. The LGP can record in even better quality with the best settings being 30 frames, 60 mbps and full 1080p (you can get 60 frames by turning the resolution down to 1280 x 800 or lower), however you could imagine the file size being rather large. The great thing is the RECentral software tied in with the LGP gives the user a myriad of options so that they can adjust the balance of quality and file size to suit their needs.
In terms of audio, the LGP can capture source audio from the HDMI (as the above videos demonstrate), AV in cables, or from another audio source that you can connect through the 3.5mm audio cable. I also had the option to use my laptop’s included microphone to record my voice. For those that like to record live commentary, you can record the commentary audio to a seperate mp3 file, leaving your source audio intact. As you can tell from the two demonstration videos, the audio comes in crisp, clear and without delay, regardless of the video quality settings you have set.
The RECentral software that is tied in with the LGP looks neat, is easy to use and includes several different options to match up with the users skill level. I am a true novice at recording gameplay footage, however was easily able to use RECentral to change options such as file type, the destination folder, video quality and more. The newbie mode takes care of the options for you and simply let’s you detect which source the video is coming from, however even as a rookie, I didn’t have any trouble using the pro menu options. One thing I found strange was that only the amateur option gives you a preview of what the video quality will look like, I found this feature handy but wasn’t a fan of how the amatuer settings were represented so tended to stick towards the pro menu. It would of been nice to see that preview be distributed across all the skill level options. For those that like to stream live directly through sites like Twitch, you can also do that through the RECentral software as well as utilise the TimeShift function which allows you to go back and start recording from previously buffered footage. It should be noted that RECentral does lack any kind of video editing utilities, so you will need to utilise a seperate program for your editing needs.
In conclusion, when you get the Live Gamer Portable up and running after a rather tedious setup process, you will be very pleased with it’s performance and capabilities. All the functions are there for both a total rookie and an experienced game footage capturer to record the videos they want, how they want. The portability aspect and compatibility with a range of devices with different connections is a plus, as is the rather unique straight to SD card record mode. At a respectable price, I would definitely recommend the AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable to those with the correct hardware looking to get into the gameplay recording scene or those looking to upgrade from an older capture device.