AVerMedia DarkCrystal HD Capture Station - USB2.0 vid cap

Discussion in 'Game Consoles' started by opAsx, Oct 16, 2011.

  1. opAsx

    opAsx Member

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    Not a review, more a recommendation if you have modest capture requirements and were considering this unit anyway, this may be of interest.

    I recently bought a DarkCrystal HD Capture Station and so far, very very happy with it.

    I purchased it from KoiTech (special order request, incredible service by the way) and it is doing exactly what it is supposed to (capture component vid from PS3 and 360).

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    In the package:
    * AVerMedia DarkCrystal HD Capture station
    * Quick Install Guide
    * Installation CD
    * Component Cable and Stereo Audio Cable
    * IR Blaster
    * Power Adaptor
    * Power Adaptor Outlet Module (region specific)
    * USB Cable

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    The unit itself feels small compared to what I was expecting, only weighs 510g (manufacturer indicated) and is shiny and looks like it will attract many fingerprints if you touched it a lot. When in standby it has an orange standby LED and when connected and capturing content it switches to a blue LED.

    The install guide is pretty straight forward and is the same as the guide on the website (the install CD contains the relevant capture software and a few extras I will mention further on).

    The component cable I think added most of the weight to the package, it is huge. It is approx 1.2-1.4 metres long (I didn't measure before plugging it in) and it is very chunky. the cables are separate thick insulated cables joined together side by side.

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    The IR Blaster is an infra red extension for a remote control, I have no use for it so I have not played with it at all.

    The power adaptor is a plug pack with a relatively short cable (possibly the only issue I have had with the unit is the power lead is too short for where I want to use the unit, but that is an issue of mine, not of the unit) and comes with a plug adaptor which you just slip on the make it work with AU power points. Similar to a lot of the netbook PSUs Acer includes.

    The USB cable is pretty generic, not much else to say really.

    Setting up the DarkCrystal
    This is very simple. Depending on your source (360 and PS3 via component) you plug your component cables that would normally go into your TV into the IN plugs and then use the included monster component AV cable to from the OUT an then the other end to your TV. You also plug the power in and the USB to your pc/laptop.

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    I would usually connect my 360 and ps3 via HDMI but also had component cables for both the 360 (they are included when you buy it) and for the PS3 (I bought a set years ago).

    The unit also has a nice feature of HDMI output so you can plug your component cables from your console into the unit and still connect the unit to your TV via HDMI. The composite and SVideo inputs are on the front of the unit.

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    Using the DarkCrystal
    It can capture up to 1080i (I only capture at 720p) and the vid capture does require the use of the included software (ArcSoft TotalMedia Extreme 2) for the capture only. I have not found any other software that will interface with the capture station but this one works simply and does not seem to really need to do more than capture a video.

    The software allows you to choose the source (if you had more than one compatible capture device) the input (composite or component) and the video format is not really optional as it will match the output to the input source. It does allow you to tinker a little with the audio capture rate (I have left it at max, 384kbps, as I can play with it in premier).

    Also included in the package is ArcSoft TotalMedia® Theatre 3, ArcSoft TotalMedia® Studio 3, ArcSoft MediaConverter and software updating/registration utilities. Other than the update utilities, I have not used the rest of it.

    a couple of quick tests

    PS3 Dead Nation 720p (yes, I suck)


    360 Battlefield Bad Company 2 720p (I suck but I also looked at the wrong screen when playing)


    My personal opinion
    After using this for a bit, i am very happy. I was after USB 2.0 as I do not have a compatible USB3.0 port for the BlackMagic Intensity Shuttle and from everything I have read about them they are incredible for USB3.0 but finicky with the USB3.0 port it will run on. The other benefit for me is my laptops both have USB2.0 and my PC while it has USB3.0 I can use the capture station across all 3 with no issues. One thing I will add is you can NOT play a game via your pc, you need an external monitor, the lag is 1 to 2 seconds and you will not be able to play any game other than maybe chess.

    I do not need to capture at anything higher than 720p for consoles nor do I need to capture anything better than stereo sound, I wanted an external device so i can plug it into my PC to cap video in the study or to plug it into a laptop and cap in the lounge or theatre without having to lug the pc about.

    I was considering this and the Hauppage HD PVR and ended up buying this due to price/availability/HDMI output.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2011
  2. Mau1wurf1977

    Mau1wurf1977 (Banned or Deleted)

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    Great review! The quality is wonderful as well :thumbup:
     
  3. kizzav

    kizzav Member

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    I was looking at a capture device myself a month or 2 ago.

    I focused more on the BlackMagic Intensity series & later looked at the Hauppauge HD PVR.

    What is the difference between the AVerTV USB HD DVR & the DarkCrystal HD Capture Station? I can't seem to see anything. The USB HD PVR states 'US/ANZ' on the Avermedia website.

    I'm still looking at getting a capture device, btw.
     
  4. OP
    OP
    opAsx

    opAsx Member

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    looking at the two quickly, it appears to be more of a branding thing (US vs Global)

    I cant spot any differences, not sure if there are any (possibly the power pack and maybe the bundled software).

    I looked at the hauppauge HD PVR and the blackmagic intensity and I needed something that was usb2.0 which ruled out the blackmagic and I liked the idea of the HDMI out on the darkcrystal.

    after using it now for a while, I am still very happy with it. I leave it on 720p capture and just record when I remember :)
     
  5. kizzav

    kizzav Member

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    It's a shame the Blackmagic Intensity Shuttle is USB3.0 only. I didn't like the idea of having the Intensity Pro (PCI-E) & the new Intensity Extreme is Mac OSX (Thunderbolt connection) only.

    The benefit of the Blackmagic is the HDMI in & out. But HDCP poses a problem when it comes to HDMI & something as expensive as the Blackmagic's when it comes down to it possibly not capturing.

    Hauppauge are notorious for capture devices & tuners. The HD PVR looks chunky though.

    The Avermedia is a lot smaller than the Hauppauge (seen videos). Interesting that the Avermedia does component in/out but also converts the output to HDMI as an alternative to component. EDIT: The HDMI out is only for video playback, not live video viewing.

    The only issues I have are, once this current console generation ends & the new generation starts, is HDMI going to be pushed as the default/only video output, binning both composite & component?

    Also, I thought I remember reading months ago, that Sony were trying to encrypt the component signal somehow, on the PS3. I don't know what happened to that, if anything. Ie; encryption could render component capture useless.

    Some computer shops sell the Avermedia's at around $200+. Question is, do you buy local for the speed & ease, or online (overseas) to save money but suffer from added costs for postage & lengthy delivery times.

    Finally, if the Avermedia's work, plug & play, under linux I could get 2 of them, one for gaming, the other for 'alternative video capturing' under MythTV. The Hauppauge HD PVR is supported by MythTV, according to the wiki.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2011
  6. Mau1wurf1977

    Mau1wurf1977 (Banned or Deleted)

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  7. OP
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    opAsx

    opAsx Member

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    is it released yet?


    I like the idea of only having to have one device plugged into capture (ie not needing pc/laptop running to record).

    I might need to find some stock when its out :)


    EDIT:
    ergh..... 2.5" drives

    with the overall fuckedness of current HDD prices, i will stick with what I have for now, 1TB would be not enough.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2011
  8. Mau1wurf1977

    Mau1wurf1977 (Banned or Deleted)

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    You don't have to use the internal drive. Just hook up a USB one and you are good to go!

    The box encodes in h264 on-the-fly. A 1TB drive will store 125h of gaming footage in the highest quality setting. That should be plenty I think...
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2012

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