The 10 Best HDMI Recorders
This wiki has been updated 16 times since it was first published in January of 2018. Whether you're a roving filmmaker uploading camcorder footage to the internet, a streaming gamer making "Let's Play!" videos, or simply interested in legally recording your favorite media, you'll likely be looking into an HDMI recorder. If you're new to such activities, be sure you have the storage capacity necessary for whatever projects you'll be undertaking, as video files can be very large. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best hdmi recorder on Amazon.
May 14, 2019:
Our previous number one pick, the Elgato HD 60, has seen a 4K upgrade that maintains the impressive 60 fps frame rate of its predecessor, and is now designed for installation in a computer tower. Its specs were definitely enough to keep it up at the top of our list, and it's joined in our top three by another newcomer to the field, the Mirabox Capture Card. This model is particularly exciting, as it features HDMI and USB-C connectivity, potentially future proofing it against developments with as-yet-unreleased systems, and making it particularly compatible with modern monitors and laptops. The model by Blackmagic Design held strong at number three thanks to its reliability, but our old number two pick fell all the way to the sixth slot once the dust settled. It had always been a smart budget option, but there are simply too many products offering similar quality in the same price ballpark for it to have stayed in the top grouping.
What Exactly Is An HDMI Recorder?
They work by capturing video signals from any compatible device.
HDMI recorders, which are sometimes referred to as capture cards, are devices that let you record live footage from a camera or television and save it straight to a computer or mass storage device. They work by capturing video signals from any compatible device. The raw data captured by the recorder is typically encoded by a built-in encoder or your computer in order to reduce the amount of space it takes up.
HDMI stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface. It allows the transfer of both digital video and audio through a single cable, and compared to analog systems, it can support higher definition signals. HDMI cables are designed to be an all-in-one replacement for the old standard: sets of AV cables that each transmit separate signals (video, left audio, and right audio).
To use an HDMI recorder, you simply plug in both the device you want to capture footage from and whatever you plan on using for storage. It should be noted that some models require a computer, and others may feature a built-in editor that lets you edit and trim videos right on your TV.
Nowadays, a lot of HDMI recorders are marketed towards gamers and streamers. With online content creation becoming a legitimate source of income — specifically the gaming-related — more and more people have started looking into streaming full-time. Because of this, several brands, such as Elgato and AverMedia, label their products as "game capture" devices. These are usually bundled with free editing software that allows you to broadcast from your video game console straight to websites like Twitch and YouTube.
Despite the branding, people also buy these devices for non-gaming purposes, such as saving their favorite TV shows and movies for personal use. You can also use an HDMI recorder to turn your camera into a webcam, which is great if you have high-end equipment and are looking into vlogging or broadcasting live events. With the help of an AV to HDMI converter, you can also use it to digitize old home videos.
Things To Watch Out For
While using an HDMI recorder may be easy, there are a couple of things that you have to keep in mind before you buy one. To start off, you have to learn about how HDCP works. HDCP stands for High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection, and it's a form of copy protection designed by Intel that prevents the copying and playback of digital video and audio content.
The problem with this is that HDCP is also known for affecting regular consumers who are trying to view legally-acquired media.
It's a complex anti-piracy system that checks for encrypted copyrighted content and makes sure that it will only work with certain devices. In order to make a device HDCP-compliant, manufacturers have to pay for a license from an organization known as Digital Content Protection LLC. The problem with this is that HDCP is also known for affecting regular consumers who are trying to view legally-acquired media. For example, if you own an old HDTV and try to view HDCP-compliant media, you will most likely receive an error telling you that the content you're trying to view has been disabled due to your device being unauthorized.
There are ways to fix this problem that don't include buying a new television, such as using certain kinds of HDMI splitters. Some devices, such as video game consoles, also offer the option to turn HDCP off, though this will temporarily disable the use of services such as Netflix. Take note that if you intend to do this to record television shows, make sure that "time shifting" or recording live broadcasts for later personal use is legal where you live.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you should make sure that you have enough storage space for whatever you're going to record. Whether you're streaming gameplay or saving your favorite TV show for later, you're going to need a lot of space to accommodate all of that footage, especially if you plan on recording for a long amount of time. Depending on your recording device and desired quality, a couple of minutes of video can easily go from just a few hundred megabytes to dozens of gigabytes.
A Brief History Of Digital Video Capture
When DVDs were first introduced in the 1990s, they quickly became the most popular form of home video distribution in the world. Later that decade, some of the first consumer-grade digital video recorders were released. Not only were these devices more convenient than the old video cassette recorders that came before them, they also introduced new features, such as the ability to pause and rewind live television programs.
Over the years, new recording hardware that could support higher resolutions was released.
By the early 2000s, more companies started creating their own DVRs, and cable providers began adding recording functions to their STBs. Around this time, cable companies also introduced dual tuners that allowed users to record two different programs at once. In 2002, Elgato released the EyeTV, which was a cable tuner that could encode television video into a format viewable on a computer.
Over the years, new recording hardware that could support higher resolutions was released. With the advent of video sharing sites during the mid 2000s, capturing gameplay footage started becoming one of the most common uses of digital video recorders. Because of this, a lot of these devices nowadays are marketed specifically towards gamers, and some of them are designed to support both analog and digital systems, which is a feature even non-gamers find useful.
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