Recently I bought a new 2013 model Nexus 7 which replaces my old Asus EeePad Slider SL101 tablet. The slider was one of my better purchases at the time, used as a general office organizer I took to meetings and a portable computing device when I went on a couple days’ trips which didn’t warrant bringing my full 15” Dell laptop.
Since then things have changed. I’ve switched work and stop commuting as much (the tablet was of a great use of trains) and my work itself changed, no longer requiring a lot of meeting with clients. I’ve also bought a new 13” Lenovo U310 Ultrabook which is a lot easier to bring along when traveling. It all amount to the Slider being obsolete. Off with it!
The only problem is that I love gadget, so being without a tablet device is a bit annoying for my sensibilities. I started thinking of tasks I need the tablet for – even when I had the Slider, I thought I needed a smaller form factor tablet for reading PDFs (I’ve some RPG books on my PDF collection). And while the Kindle is great for general reading proposes, for those graphically intensive PDFs you really want a full LCD screen tablet.
There are also all those great Android games, some of which just works better of a bigger screen. And some productivity apps I really like to use, and…
Yes, I’m stretching, I know. But the decision was made and the Nexus 7 bought.
One of the improvements Google put into the 2013 N7 model is a TV-out option via MyDP connectivity. This means that you can plug a SlimPort adapter to the device’s micro-USB socket, connect a HDMI cable from the other end to your TV and the display will mirror the Nexus’. This was available to me before on the Slider which simply had a mini-HDMI port.
For some time I had an idea to record and cover Android games. This started when the Ouya came out and I thought about buying it, recording Ouya games seems like a good idea. The same idea popped into my head with the N7 – it has native 1080p resolution, the latest version of Android and so the best game selection the platform can offer so why not?
What you need in order to capture from the Nexus 7?
First thing you need is the SlimPort adapter. Unlike the tiny MHL ones used for Samsung, which can cost you as little as 4.8$, all MyDP adapters I found cost 20-25$ (like this one). Okay so this isn’t “expensive” but still a cost to take into consideration.
Next is the big problem: the Nexus 7 uses High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP). This protocol was originally put in place to prevent people from copying movies off blu-rays and DVDs. When those devices where connected with analog cables there was nothing they could do about it, but when we moved to digital, suddenly the cable itself can have copy-protection.
Let me say this: under every copyright law it is considered “fair use” to have footage of a game or a movie when critiquing, reviewing or otherwise providing information and opinion on them. This is done to prevent the content creators from using copyright law to silence opinions they oppose.
That said it is not okay to use those capture method and devices to illegally copy game and movie content.
In order to circumvent the HDCP protection you can use a device called HDMI Splitter. This is not the intended propose of those devices and indeed, most of them won’t work properly to that effect. They cost between 5$ -25$, but again, you need to check each individual model to see it is indeed able to strip the HDCP protection.
AVerMedia vs. Elgato
With that out of the way, let’s get to the important bit: the capture devices. I was looking for separate independent devices only. There are several PCI capture cards available, but I don’t want a card to put into my PC. I want something portable I can put between whatever device I’m using and a computer. This can be my rig at home, my laptop, and office workstation, whatever.
The two companies that standout in this field are AVerMedia and Elgato. Each have several good products on the market, and I’m focusing on the following models: AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable and Elgato Game Capture HD. The two are similar in size, being about as big as a 4.5” smartphone: very small, very portable.
The Elgato is very straight forward – you plug in your source device to one end and your recording setup to the other and you’re done. The AVerMedia has some extra features: it can record directly to a SD card in what they call a “PC-Free” mode. It also has a dedicated button to control the recording.
The SD cannot handle full 1080p recording, but it’s still a nice touch. On a side note, AVerMedia offers the Game Capture HD II which has an internal 2.5” hard drive slot, as well as a bunch of extra features. It is bigger, about the side of a wireless router, but it only costs about 5$ more than the Portable.
The big advantage of AVerMedia’s devices is that it comes with its own dedicated recording software, RECentral. By all account, it is a very good piece of software, prodiving all you recording needs all well as built-in streaming capabilities.
The Live Gamer Portable also offer audio in/out ports for microphone and headset, meaning you can record live commentary while capturing your game footage. The Elgato device offer no such extra features.
All in all, since the prices of the two devices are within 1$ of each other, I would go with the: AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable. Maybe you do not require all the extra features, but for the extra buck I think they’re nice to have.
The total recording setup for the Nexus 7 2013 model will run you around 204$ total, including the capture device, HDMI splitter and SlimPort adapter.
If you have any feedback or suggestions, let me know in the comments below.