AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus with 4K Pass-Through Capture Device Review
With the advances in gaming technology these days it’s hard to stay on top of them across all of your gadget needs. 4K screens are throwing one of the bigger wrenches into gamer’s setups thanks to all of the gear required to take advantage of them. If you are lucky enough to own a 4K gaming setup, then you know the level of visual clarity that it offers, so at all times you do not want to degrade it in anyway. Unfortunately, most of today’s capture and/or streaming devices aren’t ready to handle a 4K gaming setup. Most will work with 4K screens, consoles, and PCs, but there is usually some sort of lag in the visuals tarnishing the experience while recording or streaming a game meant to be enjoyed in 4K. If this is a scenario you find yourself facing, then AverMedia may have a solution for your video game capturing and streaming needs with the Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus.
This plug and play streaming capture box is small enough to fit in your pocket, but comes with hardware that allows you to enjoy your gaming in 4K6ofps while recording or streaming in a very clean 1080p60fps format. You can’t record in 4K, but you don’t affect the output of your screen while recording, so like I mentioned you can still enjoy your 4K gaming setup while streaming and recording in 1080p60fps without laggy frame rates and stutters. This device even offers a PC-free mode, which allows you to record footage directly to a MicroSD card that can be installed in the capture device’s memory slot. Plus, it also has onboard ports for a microphone, as well as your game controller to record your audio and your party’s audio if you utilize both ports. This makes setting it up to broadcast, or even record gameplay with commentary a breeze, because you no longer have to worry about compatible headphone ports on your PC to loop in audio for your captures and streams.
In terms of this capture device’s usability it’s actually quite simple once you learn a few tricks, and those tricks are mostly for people who use Macs as their computing devices, because the RECentral software (AverMedia’s proprietary streaming and recording software, think OBS) is only currently supported on Windows PCs. Plus, it’s not made clear which format the MicroSD card needs to be in for PC-Free mode, so I had to track down that information, which to me should have been clearly marked in the device’s manual.
Either way the device is mostly plug and play as described on its box. It was instantly recognized on both my Mac laptop and Windows PC without the need of any driver installs, and on the Windows PC it synced perfectly with the RECentral software, which is an easy to use GUI based recording program that allows you to record from multiple devices to create interactive streams, or videos with you in it by way of a webcam or other video recording device. On a Mac you can use OBS to sync with the device once it is connected to the console of your choosing. You can also use QuickTime, which I found to work better than I expected for general recordings and voice overs.
I actually used this method in the demo video you can watch below, which I created with the Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus hooked up to the Xbox One S. Hopefully you can see the quality of the recording, which was done with just QuickTime and the capture device. The video didn’t capture in 60fps even though Forza 7 employs it, but when I processed it in Final Cut I was able to squeeze the 60fps back in, so it still looks pretty smooth. I was most surprised with how clear the audio sounded from my mic. I was just using the Stealth 700 headset with an aux cable plugged into it and the capture card, and for the most part the vocals sound pretty damn good. They could use a bit more polish, but overall I was very impressed with how well this device captured audio directly from my gaming headset.
In terms of the two main recording modes I had the most success with the standard PC option, which requires the device to be hooked up to a PC or Mac in addition to the console you want to capture footage from. This mode worked flawlessly on both platforms, and didn’t require any troubleshooting to get working. It literally was a plug and play type of scenario. The PC-Free option on the other hand gave me nothing but fits, which is a shame because I find this mode to be the most intriguing and useful when it works. Again, this mode does’t require a middle man. You just plug the device into a console and hit a button to start recording footage and audio directly to the installed MicroSD card.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t get this mode to work whatsoever, and I went above and beyond in testing to see if it was an issue on my end or not. I tried two different cards with two different filesystems, but they just wouldn’t work. I could see that the device had created folders on them, so the cards were good, and I could save files to them when hooked up to a PC, but for some reason the device would error out every time I tried to use the PC-Free mode. I also tried removing my A/V receiver from the mix, but even with the Xbox One S hooked directly into my 4K TV, the PC-Free mode still wouldn’t comply. I’m not sure if the unit sent to me is faulty, or if it just doesn’t like the Xbox One S, but I did every troubleshooting maneuver the company suggested to resolve the issue, but they all failed.
Take that for what you want. The other two modes worked great with the Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus (third mode allows it to become a USB device if a card is installed), but the traditional PC-in-the-middle-mode works just fine. I didn’t have a full 4K gaming rig to test the 4K60fps passthrough, but using it on the Xbox One S didn’t degrade Forza 7 visuals in the least, and once I get the Xbox One X, I hope to test it out again to see how it handles the 4K version of the game. If the PC-Free mode is all that you were looking for, then I would caution you about its functionality, because I couldn’t get it to work with multiple different setups. Either way, the Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus does mostly what it says it can do, and is very easy to setup and use, but due to the PC-Free issue you may want to pass if that’s all that you’re looking for.
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Review Statement: The author of this review was provided a sample unit by the manufacturer for the purposes of this review.