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  1. I've been toying with getting a HDMI video capture device for some time now. Checking around I decided to go with an Elgato HD60 S - USB 3 capture device. I considered the PCI-e options but I wanted the USB 3 option for my laptop use also. I was also able to pickup the capture device locally so that was a nice bonus. If you want a 4k capable capture card, the 4k PCIe device goes for around $400. I got the HD60 S for $180 and if you want the PCIe HD60 Pro, it's normally +$20 for that PCIe model. Now that you know about their capture line of products, we can get into usage. There is a power connector USB type-C connector, HDMI input and a passthru HDMI output. You can use the Game Capture HD software from Elgato to play your input device on your desktop monitor (as a window or full-screen). I did notice the frame rate seems lower than if you play directly on your monitor by changing the display input to use the pass-thru (raw display). Mostly I noticed this playing faster rate game likes Naruto Storm Trilogy. This this being said, I did not notice any input lag or audio delay. Just the seemingly lower frame rate, despite the device capturing @ 1080p 60 fps (frames per second). If you like muxing audio with your game playing, I tend to open Game Capture HD or OBS Studio, so that I can play music while listening to in-game audio. Basically what I did on the Xbox 360 as it had it's own media player. If you would like to see video quality via streaming, check out my Twitch channel. I started out streaming with the Game Capture HD software from Elgato and then switched to OBS Studio, once I figured out Sources control. OBS Studio works very well with this. I did notice a glitch where you want to have the HDMI device turned on, before opening OBS Studio or you will hear a weird static noise. I would say OBS has better control options but the Game Capture HD is much easier to use. A nice feature of the Game Capture HD Software is it will let you change your Twitch.tv info in the program, without needing to navigate your way to the Dashboard | Live settings on the twitch site, for each stream. Speaking of Game Capture HD software, it will write temp files out while running, so be sure to have free space or change your settings to write them out to a disk with space, HDD or large SSD. I'm writing to an HDD currently. If you ever wanted to play something in VR on a big virtual screen like BigScreen or the Oculus Home environment, both of the viewer programs will go full-screen and you can play away with your headset on and potentially stream that environment out as well. Game streaming is cool but since this is a HDMI capture device, you can also plug in a computer or laptop and capture that as well. You can capture BIOS video as well but that will depend on your device and if it outputs POST info over HDMI. I say this as my laptop does not do this, but my desktop will, so long as I don't have a DisplayPort monitor connected. If you ever dealt with desktop capture software and found some of it wonky, this is a nice method to outright capture anything you would typically see on a display and record it to video or a stream. If you want to blank the screen or show a title card, OBS Studio will allow you to do this while recording, if you wish to avoid doing it in post-editing. I started dabbling with that on my twitch stream as well. Wrapping up, this is a good device that works well. I noted the framerate drop when playing on your desktop but want to note it's not unplayable at all. Audio and Input button presses register without any lag I could notice. The included software is quite nice and gets you started without having to learn the ropes around using OBS Studio for Streaming and Recording. The USB HD60 S makes a great option if you ever wanted to be able to record a PC boot process and desktop environment without using desktop capture software, thus removing an OS-specific means to record. Using the recording software and drivers, Elgato has native support for Windows and OS X. I have not tried to record anything in Linux yet. Using the output passthru port lets you play at native console resolution and frame rate, while you record or stream on your desktop. It's a fun device and highly suggested if you want to get into some video capture for under $200 USD. FYI this will not allow you to capture video from a HDCP device like a Google Chromecast. You will see a black screen and the Elgato Game Capture HD and a red icon that says HDCP with a line going through a circle icon. A Roku will allow you to record it at the OS-level but if you try to play video, it will honor the HDCP request not to show video and put an overlay over the video, noting HDCP lockout. So long as HDCP is not restricting your device, you should have no issues capturing video. Searching around it appears you have an option to disable HDCP for Playstation 4 consoles. I do not have one so I cannot verify this but Elgato has a PS4 guide to disable HDCP.
  2. Pic0o

    Nintendo Switch

    It tends to be a matter of time before I checkout Nintendo consoles and my time came this weekend for a Nintendo Switch. These things are still fairily rare to find in stock but I scooped on up @ a local shop that restocked a few days prior. 8 consoles moved in less than a week and when I got mine someone also bought the last one in stock. This console retails for $300 before tax, presuming you can find one in stock. Amazon has a bunch on hiked up prices. The switch is essentially a hybrid of the Wii U with a little inspiration from the 3DS as well. Your games are cartridges that insert into the switch tablet. You can play on the go or on your TV, by docking the switch display. The Switch tablet has a USB Type-C connector on the bottom that it plugs into the dock with or can be charged with a USB cable. Of note on the USB charging that it is a high-power power supply that comes with the Switch. I say this because I was charging with my Samsung S8 High-speed charger and C-cable last night but the tablet power was still going down despite being plugged in... similar to how older phones would drain faster than they could charge, when using HDMI output cables with in-line power. Recap here being, if you want to play with the device in tablet mode, you will want to plug in the charger that came with it, or buy another one of the Nintendo official ones, for the correct output to properly charge it while you are playing. Battery life looks to be approximately 3 hours or so on maximum brightness. I was playing Zelda: BotW last night in bed for this rough test and this is also when I discovered the lower charging from other USB Type-C chargers. Speaking of charging, the USB C port is on the bottom of the console. So I would suggest the Hori standing case if you plan to play on the go, if you want the ability to charge from an external battery pack. If you opt to buy a 2nd Charger for the Switch, they go for $30. The power supply specs of the officially licensed power supply are: Output: 5.0 V - 1.5 A 15.0 V - 2.6 A Accessories for the Switch are pretty costly. The included gear will work great for 1 person, or 2 people playing Mario Kart, but some games require a 2nd pair of JoyCon controllers. A Pair of JoyCons go for $80 and the play and a 2nd charge controller mount that comes with the console goes for $15. So you are looking at $95 for a 2ns JoyCon gamepad. You can also get a Pro controller for $70. It's like the Pro controller for the Wii U that shares form-factor with a Playstation or Xbox gamepad. Player 2 can put you out a little more money than you may have expected. In defense of the JoyCon pads, they are impressive and slim profile, while also having gyro capabilities. All of the controllers also have rumble support (that can be turned off as well). Controller rundown, is that you can slide the JoyCon controllers directly to the Switch console / display and play like that. You can also use the JoyCons (A pair, one Left, one Right controller) kind of like wands (labeled Grips in the console system settings), or you can insert them into the Play and Charge housing, that makes it like a mini-gamepad. There are slide-on wrist strap and side-button extensions you can use when playing in what I call, Wand mode. Wand mode is extra-handy for playing Breath of the Wild, as you can use the gyros in them to aim your bow. Having played some VR, this is a nice feature that is comparable to control in a VR game, but with the Switch when playing off a standard screen or the console display. The Switch console has a slot for the game cartridges on the top-right as I mentioned. There is also a Micro-SD slot under the stand up arm on the read of the display. The JoyCons slide into the sides of the console display. Be sure to match up the + and - signs when using the JoyCons, else they may get stuck in place. There is a small button on the back that works as a release. Also there is a locking mechanism by the wrist-strap portion of the JoyCons when you install them. Push them in to lock it on the rails. The power button is along the top-left and volume controls are next to the power button. You can hold the home button for a few seconds to get a brightness and volume control overlay. The Switch also supports quick-suspend power, so you can put it to sleep until you get a chance to charge it back up. It is similar to hibernate on your laptop but it works faster and seemingly more cleanly. When the console is docked, you have access to 3x USB ports (non-Type-C), a HDMI Port and the AC adapter input for a Type-C charger. If you still have the DaTel USB NIC from the Original Wii, that will natively work with your Switch when it's docked if you want to run a wired connection. Miiverse is a robust gaming community run by Nintendo and filled with gamer-contributed content on the Wii U. Sadly, this is not on the Switch (yet) and the current Wii U Miiverse shuts down this November 7th 2017. I am speculating but suspect the Switch Miiverse will be online somewhere around the Winter or early 2018. Currently there is a News section of the console with game info and video content about upcoming and current releases. At the time of writing, there are about 133 items on the Nintendo eShop for the Switch. There is also a local Album where you can view your screenshots saved (from the dedicated screencap button on the left joycon). Software selection included with the console, is honestly currently lackluster. You really should pickup a game when you buy one, unless you intend to download something from the store. You do still have access to Mii editor from the System Settings screen. You can make multiple users and also import Miis from your Wii U or 3DS, by using an Amiibo between the consoles. I was able to copy over some Wii characters I got off the internet, when I was using Bluetooth hacks to import Web characters into my original Wii controllers, that were on my Wii U most recently. I'm enjoying the console so far and even started another play of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on here. The extra graphics in details like the water, grass and draw distance are nice on the Switch. I would not say necessarily to get a Switch for playing Zelda if you already have a Wii U, but the native controls are nicer than trying to do similar things with the Wii U pad, as you are implied to with the Switch tablet. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is crisp and also includes all the DLC for the Wii U version of Mario Kart 8. I am looking to check out that RTS Mario and Rabbids game soon too but that will wait for another payday. I wanted to mention a range of observations about the console so far. For point of reference I am on System Firmware 3.0.2. I'm looking forward to extra software to come for the device, as there are currently no Netflix or applications like that yet on the eShop. The new Mario Odyssey game is also due out around the end of October and there are a few other games coming for the Holiday Season. Skyrim and Doom on the go may be of special interest to folks too. I look forward to bringing mine various places and jamming out some play. I'm actually about to get some rounds of Mario Kart in now.
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