Elgato Game Capture HD: For gamers who don’t play around

Some people like to think that after they die they live on through their work. But now it’s possible to live on through your play with Elgato’s Game Capture HD – designed to immortalise you. If you’ve even seen the Frogger episode of Seinfeld (where George realises his high score on an arcade game might be his greatest achievement in his life) you’ll understand the importance of preserving your “legacy”.

Elgate-Game-Capture-HD

The Game Capture HD, a simple solution for recording and sharing PlayStation or Xbox gameplay using a Mac or PC. If you’ve been over to YouTube recently, you’ll see it’s peppered with videos of young people making other young people feel bad about themselves with their superior gameplay. Now you can join in on that fun. With software specifically tailored to the needs of gamers and a built-in H.264 encoder it’s pretty easy to record, edit and share a gameplay video.

“Gameplay videos created on the Mac or PC are reporting explosive growth, especially on YouTube. Elgato Game Capture HD offers the community an unrivalled and efficient way to create gameplay videos in maximum quality with minimum effort. It brings together years of video-encoding and editing experience.”
Adam Steinberg, Vice President Marketing at Elgato.

The H.264 hardware encoding means Elgato Game Capture HD records in HD quality without burdening the hard disk with large files. And as someone who records as lot of high definition DSLR video footage, believe me this is a good thing. I’ve shelled out on far too many hard drives in my time and it’s getting old. Set up is pretty simply using a single cable from the XBox 360 or the PS3, capturing all your gameplay through the magic of HDMI.

Elgato Game Capture HD lets gamers focus on what matters – family, friends, the world outside … I’m kidding obvious. Making recording simple means you can focus wholeheartedly on dominating at Fallout or whatever it is the kids are playing these days.

Thanks to the unique Flashback Recording feature, Elgato Game Capture HD remembers the gameplay that has preceded it, even if the record button wasn?t pressed. The gamer can then simply revert to the start of the scene they want to record and begin recording retroactively. With a single click, videos can be shared with friends and fans on YouTube, Facebook or Twitter. And with Elgato Game Capture HD software, it’s even possible to trim gameplay videos for later editing using a video-editing program.

Elgato Game Capture HD will be available from the start of June from Elgato, Amazon, and selected retailers for £179.95 including VAT.

Blu-ray gets the blue sky treatment from Sony

Man, those wizards at Sony know a thing or two about audio and visual heaven. Not content with just creating achingly glorious works of what could be termed as electronic modern art (their sleek black lines and slim bodies transforming our living rooms into cutting edge galleries) but they deliver the goods each time too.

Sony-BDV

The wrappers are off Sony’s new affordable 3D ready Blu-ray 2.1 home entertainment range and once again, the format has been redefined.

Sony’s new 2.1 Blu-ray HD systems, the BDV-EF200, BDV-L600 and the flagship BDP-S780 are jammed full of bells, whistles and many other various forms of musicality. The built in Bravia Internet video platform lets you stream YouTube videos, watch BBC iPlayer, rent movies via Lovefilms and watch Sky News live through the dedicated TV application. Two HDMI ports provide simple connectivity to other HD devices such as set top boxes and consoles, whilst the built in Apple dock provides easy access to your music and video files and control through iPod touch or smart phones.

They might be just 2.1 home cinema systems albeit blu-ray, but the built in S-Force PRO 3D virtual surround sound audio will deliver plenty of power without any ugly wires cluttering up your room and Sony’s IP noise reduction technology will provide sharp images even from internet content.

Sony’s flagship player the BDP-S780 has even more under the bonnet with 2D-3D up-conversion and a pro version of its IP noise reduction technology together with super Bit Mapping to make those images razor sharp. It’s Skype enabled, so get those free calls in, and the built in wi fi will let you control the unit from your smart phone using Sony’s media remote app.

All three players offer improved load and start up times, something Sony already leads the market in, and consider they all come in under £250, you get a lot of blu-ray bang for your buck.

The most adventurous gadgets (2010 edition)

Plenty of firms make evolutionary products – they take something and make it slightly better. Most of the time, it’s dull. Revolutionary products, however, merge humans and technology in new, perturbing, and sometimes ridiculous ways. One need only look at the Tweetle – the twittering kettle.

Looxcie

We see a lot of gadgets, and below is my list of outstanding contributions to the furthering of human and technological relations:

Notion Ink Adam

The little known Indian developer Notion Ink captured my heart back in January. It was originally defined by its Pixel Qi display – an LCD screen that turns into an eInk-rival at the flip of a switch. After another year of development, it’s ready to hit our stores as a more powerful, more useful version of the iPad. With 3G, Skype (with video calling), a 10ish hour battery life, two cameras, powerful media playback and a eInk-like screen, this could be the tablet to end all other mobile devices. It could be the One. It could be everything the iPad wasn’t.

LiveView

LiveView – or future versions – have the potential to end the wristwatch. Mounted on your wrist, it provides you with wireless access to your smartphone’s functions. An awesome idea with a slightly flawed execution. Hopefully, there will be evolution to this revolution.

Looxcie

The Looxcie lets you record 30 seconds into the past. No, it’s not some kind of unrealistic Deja Vu time-viewer. It simply records all the time, and when you push a button it saves the previous 30 seconds. A bit heavy, slightly gawky and with just too small a memory and too short a battery life. Next year, maybe?

BlackPad

Another tablet that isn’t the iPad. The reason that the BlackPad makes the list is due to its innovative, ingrained smartphone integration. It uses the best features of your Blackberry and combines them with the form and power of a tablet. It’s a whole lot more interesting than Apple’s product, which just multiplied the size of the iPhone and subtracted its camera.

Nintendo 3DS

The first 3D handheld was announced. It may not be out yet, but it’ll hopefully send a stark message to everyone else in the 3D market: we want the third dimension without glasses. Hurry up.

TWIG: Three’s Human Hotspots, Chilli WatchCam and LG’s NetCast

The Week in Gadgets

If you see one of these dudes in the streets, sidle up to them, they’ll probably have something you’ll find useful  – wifi. The ‘Human Hotspots’ will use Three’s MiFi®, which uses Three’s 3G network to create a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot.

Three-Human-HotSpots

I own a MiFi (I went out and bought one … well it was online so I stayed in and bought one … the point is Three didn’t give one to me) and it’s a spectacularly useful device – especially with the array of tablets, smartphones and gaming devices I carry on my person. Research by Three has shown that one third (31 per cent) of Brits are planning to buy one of this year’s hot mobile gadgets such as a tablet, Sony Playstation PSP and an Amazon Kindle, as a gift this Christmas, while 60 per cent of people already own a mobile gadget themselves.

You’ll find Three’s Human Hotspots in:

  • London  (Friday 19th November, if you can turn back time)
  • Cardiff (Friday 26th November)
  • Bristol (Saturday 27th November)
  • Nottingham (Saturday 4th December)
  • Newcastle (Saturday 11th December)

It seems like only yesterday that we were looking at Swann’s range of spy gadgets. Because it was. But it you didn’t quite get your fill of espionage related goods then you are in lucky as Chilli Technology have released the Watch Cam, a £44.99 time piece with a secret. Well a secret heavily implied in the name. The Watch Cam comes equipped with audio and video recording capabilities and can take jpeg stills as well. Recording is a one-touch affair and videos can be played back or edited on the PC. The internal memory is 2GB, which stores up to 2 hours of video captured via the 1.3 Megapixel/CMOS image sensor. The resolution is nothing fancy – simple 640 x 480 VGA, but you are unlikely to record a feature film on a watch (insert Clockers, Watchmen or War and Timepiece joke here). The battery should accommodate 2.5 hours of recording time. Chilli-Tech.

Own an LG TV? There’s a chance it just got a little bit better. Unlike the rapidly disappearing functionality of the Google TV, LG has enhanced its NetCast service to bring more internet TV services to users. Apps for your TV are the “next big thing” and LG have expanded their service offering to include Acetrax, Picasa, Google Maps, Facebook™, Twitter™ and an internet radio application. Bear in mind that a lot of these TVs feature DLNA, which means they can access your movies, pictures and music streamed over your home network. Which is insanely cool and slowly makes those set-top boxes piling up under your TV obsolete.

Ion Twin Video camera: Perfect for double-takes

The latest Twin Video camera from Ion could change the face of You’ve Been Framed for ever! The latest take on the handheld video camera, the Twin Video has a front and rear lens, so, so you can record your reaction when your toddler falls asleep into his dinner, or when that stray football comes hurtling towards your face.

iOn-Twin-Video

As you’re recording, you can also switch the 2.5in screen to view either what’s in front of you, or yourself, and when you go to edit the film on your PC (it’s not Mac-compatible), you can split the screen to watch both video feeds at the same time – or view them picture-in picture.

The Twin Video records 640×480 resolution videos onto a standard SD or SDHC card, has a 3x digital zoom, and films at 30fps.

The makers have designed the weighted handle to allow for steadier recording, and there is also a light on both sides of the camera for filming in dark situations. The lithium-ion battery is charged via USB or mains power.

The Twin Video is about the same size as the hugely popular Flip Mino, and its extra features might just be the deciding factor for many buyers. But how often you’d actually want to use the twin video facility depends on the user – it could be fun on a rollercoaster, we guess.

The ION Twin Video will be available from Firebox.com at £119.99

Digital Stream DPS-1000: Catch-Up TV player … plays catch up

With the digital switch-over in full swing, now has never been a better time for manufacturers to unveil the latest in set-top box technology.

In August we had a look at some of the market’s best options for those who hadn’t made the step-up to digital television yet, with the Boxee Box – a hub allowing you to watch content from your computer – leading the way in innovation.

DigitalStream

But now John Lewis has announced that they’re putting on sale the Digital Stream DPS-1000 Catch-Up TV player, at a price of £89.50.

The box’s selling point is all about watching catch-up television (BBC’s iPlayer etc.) without the need to connect to a computer. Yes, that’s right – missed that episode of The Apprentice? Well you don’t need to get up, find your laptop and load up your browser anymore. Simply connect the set-top box to your Internet connection and your TV and away you go.

It also lets you connect to streaming outlets such as YouTube, CNN Daily Video and Delicious TV – but we’re left wondering if the first of three is the only one of real use.

One of the more redeeming features here however is social networking connectivity, with the likes of Facebook and Twitter on hand – although older devices like Microsoft’s XBOX 360 foreshadowed this some time ago.

One glaring drawback of the Catch-Up Player is its lack of wireless ability, meaning that you’ll have to have the box near enough to phone-line access to connect the Ethernet cable to – no Sunday morning catch-up of Doctor Who in the cosy loft then.

Compared to the other set-top boxes and digital television delights we looked at – including integrated Freeview HD – the Digital Stream Catch-Up TV player seems quite like the Emmerdale of set-top boxes. It’s got good intentions, but with strong competition, it doesn’t quite cut it.

TWIG: Green Screen Kit, Edifier iPod Dock, VHS MAGIX and the James Dyson Award

The Week in Gadgets

It’s becoming easier and easier to produce and share content online – good quality cameras cost a fraction of what they used to, decent editing packages can be had at low-to-no cost and you can distribute your masterpieces online for free. If you want to take your creative photos and videos to the next level you might want to take a look at Westcott’s Green Screen Kit. Green Screening is a visual FX technique for creating compositing effects. Basically you stand your subjects in front of a solid colour background and photo or film them. Then you remove the background and replace it with a background of your choosing – a Parisian café, an underwater kingdom or an explosion.

green-screen-box-kit

The Green Screen Kit provides you with a 5’ by 7’ green screen (and some wall hooks) so you can shoot your subject (little tip – keep them well lit if you can as this helps when pulling a clean key). The Green Screen is bundled with some PhotoKey Lite software, for one-click keys – no fussing about with garbage mattes and the like. The software works surprisingly well for a £69.99 bundled package. For someone used to working on high-end packages like Shake and fiddling with node based chroma keys, the software is a little on the simple side. However, it is amazingly easy to use and for people starting out with visual effects – or hoping to add a little something to their homemovies or YouTube videos there is a lot to like – including 100 pre-packaged digital backgrounds and the ability to add your own.

Edifer, makers of the Soundbar which we cast our watchful eye over here and the opera house-shaped Prisma which we reviewed here are back with the Breathe iF600. New iPod docks are a weekly happening in my inbox, so it’s a testament to the Edifier design team that I raised an eyebrow when I saw the Breathe’s dome like design, which literally caught my eye. Moving away from the classic boombox-style that most iPod docks seem to go for, the Breathe looks a little like the top half of an eggshell. Replete with control buttons, an Aux input (if you have a non iDevice PMP) and a Music Pause function that automatically detects when a call is incoming on your iPhone. On sale now at John Lewis for £169.

As someone old enough to remember and own VHS tapes, the MAGIX Rescue Your Videotapes system is a godsend. I have an old VCR kept in reserve just in case I ever want to watch some of my rare VHS-only films, TV shows I taped off air or home movies. MAGIX rescues my dusty tapes and puts them somewhere useful – my hard drive. An end-to-end solution, magic comes with all the cables you need to hook your VCR or old-fashioned camcorder into your PC. It also has digitization software that enables you to store the compressed files on your hard drive, burn them to DVD or share them to online sites such as YouTube or Vimeo, holding your hand through each step of the way. MAGIX Rescue Your Videotapes 3.0 is available from Amazon and PC world for £59.99

This Tuesday the international winner of the James Dyson Award will be announced. They received over 500 entries, which have been whittled down to 15. Dyson sent us this little video of the finalists and we thought you gadget fans might like to check it out. Our favourites include the Butterfly mobile, micro scooter, Move-it, a cardboard box to trolley convertor and Wanderest, a portable seat you can strap to lamp posts. Check it out.

Looxcie always on camcorder: Overshare wear?

The really arrogant guy that slipped over. The heated argument on the train. The cat that just mistimed his jump, face-planted into the side of the chair and released a muted “meeoo” noise. All priceless moments, perfect for racking up thousands of YouTube hits. The Looxcie wants to help you record these, even after they’ve happened. Wait, what?

Looxcie

The Looxcie is an ear-mounted camcorder that spends its entire life filming. There is no “record” button, simply turn it on and it starts. If something brilliant happens, push the “instant clip” button and the last 30 seconds of recorded footage turns into an individual video clip, ready to share.

The device seeks to revolutionise the current recording situation in traditional camcorders, where you have to wait until it turns on and then press record. By the time you’ve done that, 30 seconds have passed – as has the moment. By recording constantly and only turning the stuff you like into a worthwhile clip, the Looxcie hopes to capture even the most fleeting moments of brilliance.

The device will instantly transfer the clip to an Android smartphone (although WinMo and iPhone support are in the works), ready for e-mailing, or uploading to YouTube or Facebook via a dedicated app.

The app also works as a viewfinder for the camera, as well as a remote control and an editing tool to stitch together clips into 30-minute long episodes.

If you’re in the market for longer recordings, you can hook it up to your computer to dump the entire four-hour capacity onto your hard drive footage it can record. Be warned, however – once the Looxcie runs out of space, it begins recording over the oldest footage. Clips will always be safe, but any un-clipped video will be overwritten once the space limit is reached.

The video quality is a not-so-impressive HVGA resolution at 15FPS, although from a device that weighs less than 28g, it certainly exceeds expectations. It records for up to four hours (and then both battery and storage run out), and also works as a Bluetooth headset, giving you six hours talktime.

Even though the Looxcie is out, making recording and uploading video easier than ever, there are (thankfully) still barriers preventing chronic over-share: the $199 price-tag, and a sense of self-awareness which makes wearing an ear-camera uncool.