Hauppauge HD PVR Rocket review

Compact. Easy. Does everything. Adored by everyone. Not cheap, but not the most expensive. Beloved child goes by many names. Hauppage’s HD PVR Rocket might not sport the most modern design, but it does the job, and it does it well.

See all the games that went straight to my heart, right here!

See all the games that went straight to my heart, right here!

For people gaming at LAN parties and wanting to either record the matches or even stream to Twitch (or if you just want to keep as much space as possible on your desk), this is the device for you. As mentioned, it is compact, you can have it in your pocket (however, not in a too comfortable way), and it is FAST to set up once you’ve done it once or twice and the software is at the ready on the computer you’re gonna use. It is two HDMI cables, one to monitor, one to console or PC HDMI out, then a USB cord for powering. Then either the USB going into a PC which saves the recordings, or the USB goes goes into the console (or wall USB socket) and a USB thumb drive for saving recordings. The Rocket also sports a microphone input and have in internal mixer so you can record gameplay while commenting.

Only problem here is if you’re gonna have it setup at all times in your couch setup for the console. You don’t want to have all those cords across the room. A solution could be to have a PC close to your TV setup but even then there’s a problem; you need to have the Rocket (or PC) within reach as the record button is on the Rocket or in the software for it. That means getting up on your legs when starting and ending a recording if you choose to have a couch setup with a PC nearby the TV, or even just using a USB drive.

In short;
A/V for recording from HDCP devices
HDMI for other devices
Simple software for recording and editing
Pocketsized
Easy to setup
Microphone input

Easy, cooperative and even thoughtful
The Rocket works flawlessly and I’ve had little to no trouble understanding the device, buttons and the software and it has always responded as intended. Only thing that would have made it easier would be if the driver/software to start download when the device was plugged in and no software on the computer rather than have to find the software on the website manually.

To avoid big chunky videos battle your computer when you want to edit, the Rocket automatically clips the video into 20 minute chunks – being saving them on a usb thumb drive or even an external USB hard drive (yes it does support that!) or on your computer. The device doesn’t even have to format or initialize the USB drive, so you can use whatever you have at hand even with other files on it – however watch the space on the drive.

The device are willing to work with everything you’ve got that outputs via HDMI (apart from HDCP enabled devices). That include the old generation of consoles and the new generation. However, there’s a few quirks and here we go;

PS4; Before hooking up the Rocket, you’ll need to go into the settings and disable HDCP (which will disable certain apps such as Netflix I believe). If it’s enabled, the signal will be blocked, so there’s no picture on your monitor. Disabled, no problems in capturing the video.

PS3; Here you will not be able to use the HDMI – and this is possibly because of the HDCP that can’t be disabled on the PS3. You’ll have to use the enclosed A/V cable to record from this console. Pictures says more than words, so there’s a video here showing you how to set it up. However, note the video says it only supports up to 32GB thumb drives – but I used a 1TB powered hard drive and it didn’t say a word against it, saved the videos just fine. This might be due to a software update.

Xbox One and 360; While I can confirm the HDMI recording works with X360, I haven’t been able to test with Xbox One. However, certain reviews are indicating that straight HDMI will work.

Software
A quick software walkthrough, however I haven’t fiddled around with it too much, but it looks like you can do quite much, without overwhelming the user with possibilities.

As you can see here, it’s simple, yet versatile. You can choose which video and audio input are used, choose sound levels (if you’re good at commenting while doing let’s play videos, turning down the game volume is the way to go) and decide on video quality as well.

When opening up the advanced settings/menu, you can alter a number of different settings, including managing HDCP and audio decoding. Still avoiding looking overwhelming, however users who does not know a helluva lot about video and audio software will not touch that scary stuff. The standard settings seems to work flawlessly with a beautiful picture that resembles the ingame graphics on the console quite well.

There’s more to the editing screen however, but to be honest, I haven’t been using this software for editing, and now I regret I didn’t as it looks like it actually can what I need, and I’ve bought a license for another video editing software. Looks like it supports PiP for watermark and so on, so yeah I feel stupid I didn’t try this.

With an update back in the start of July, the software now supports streaming on uStream, Twitch, and even on Youtube – that’s more than even xSplit has as standard (there’s a plugin you can install and use for Youtube), and a few more options that I do not know what is, but I guess to stream on own server and something like that.

This is the top menu as displayed in the other images – this software supports uploading to youtube.

Lighthouse
Along three of the four sides, a proud line of light stands. This indicates the Rocket’s status. It tells you if something is missing in one way or the other, by two half sides and three different colours on each.

Blinking Blue – No Video
Blinking Red – No Thumb Drive
Blinking Green – HDCP
Solid Green – Ready to Record
Red Record Ring – Recording!

However, when the PS4 is plugged in with HDCP enabled, it does not blink green, it switch between blinking blue and green. Once you’ve read these indicators meaning and possible, like me, got back to this short list a couple of times, you can by a quick look see what’s wrong if it won’t work.

Conclusion: One word! Win!
Since this is my first recording device, I can’t draw comparisons or conclusions to other devices out on the market. However, as a newcomer to game recording, the Rocket certainly made it easy! I barely had to look at the enclosed hook-up manual, however I had to check the difference between the red and black USB sticks – hint, the red goes into the console to power the Rocket while it saves videos on the thumb drive – while the black has to go into the computer if you’re using that, as data can go through. I love the simplicity with this device, however, I have never been fond of the very soft and round look (even on websites) that the Rocket has. As mentioned early in this review, the Rocket has simply put, been a very good sport and did everything I’ve asked it to do. The video it outputs is great as well, I can’t complain on anything on the device but the design of it, but that is VERY subjective.

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Getting sucked into games by Super Mario as a kid, gaming got on hold during her teens. Lured into gaming with the 7th generation by GTA IV, and a few years later intrigued by reviewing games, and now she's running gamingirl since 2009.
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