The Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition is tailored specifically for gamers, letting users record PS3 and Xbox 360 gameplay via the PC. It’s designed to be easily portable, with real-time recording speeds in up to 1080P, allowing users to begin uploading recorded video to websites like YouTube mere minutes after recording them.

Does this Hauppauge product deliver a bang worth its buck? Read on to find out.

The HD PVR 2 hardware itself looks sleek. It’s a small, nicely-sized black recording device made of sturdy plastic, finding the right balance between weight and feel in a way that indicates good quality. There’s a streamlined LED light that crosses the entire unit horizontally, used to quickly illustrate exactly what the status of the machine is. For example, when the light is blue the device is ready to record, and when it turns yellow, it’s actively recording. If you’re doing a lot of stop-and-start recording, the HD PVR 2 packs a nice visual appeal to aid the recording process. The unit also ships with two HDMI cables and a single component, which guarantees each user will have what they need for recording what they’re playing on an HDTV. The unit also accepts 480P and 480i inputs, allowing for the recording of standard-definition footage.

HD PVR 2 Ports

The included recording software however, is nothing short of a disappointment. Hauppauge officially recommends ArcSoft Showbiz, which retails online for about $80 and should come bundled with the software (ours was missing, but then supplied quickly from Hauppauge). Showbiz, much like its variant TotalMediaExtreme, ran into problems actually getting a source from our review unit – so another Hauppauge-suggested, third party application was used. This one was a simple java applet that instantly recognized the device and post-installation had us recording without problem in minutes. Assuming most customers don’t run into similar driver problems, the ArcSoft Showbiz software itself was easy to understand, and should pose no threat to the technologically-literate.

Once installed, recording with the HD PVR 2 is a simple affair. The HD PVR 2 can record in full 1080P (or smaller increments) with ease. PS3 users should note that due to Sony’s own encrypted digital output, component cables will have to be used in lieu of HDMI – thankfully, Hauppauge thoughtfully included these in the package as well. The HD PVR 2 has a bandwidth cap of around 14mbps, and for the most part those using the unit should be pleased with the results they get. However, there are some scenes where the recording gets a little pixelated around the edges. Still, the majority of the footage will still look absolutely pristine – and with a suggested retail price of $169, users will need to understand and accept these limitations that come with an affordable recording unit.

Hauppauge’s HD PVR 2 is highlighted by the inclusion of frame-rate decimation. What this means is that the device can record at 30 frames per second, as opposed to the recording standard of 60. While it seems like offering less is a little strange, this allows the device to push out what is ultimately better quality video (and smaller filesizes). YouTube and the majority of games limit sources to 30 frames anyway, so anything more is typically a waste of space and results in lost quality. Of course, the option to record at 60 frames per second is always there should gamers choose to use it.

The only downsides to the HD PVR 2 is that the unit lacks features rival recording devices on the market have. The lack of an ability to record to a USB stick or internal hard-drive is a setback, as is not having the ability to use a flashback-like feature and select snippets out of the last hour’s worth of gaming session. These are sorely missed in a market where these features are becoming major selling points. Still, The HD PVR 2 is an easy-to-use and ultimately pleasing product that is sure to excite many video game recording enthusiasts.

With a price point of only $169, it’s a great deal for gamers looking to start actively recording for both personal or public use. The HD PVR 2 is a beautifully simple and visually appealing product, and delivers a fairly consistent performance that would be expected of a mid-range h.264 encoding device.

Follow me on Twitter @Makelevi.