There are more and more YouTubers and Twitch streamers joining the fray every day who need the best hardware possible to continue doing what they love. There are a couple of manufacturers that fill their needs: Elgato has become the more well know companies, Blackmagic Design is aimed towards professionals and we also have the long running AverMedia, known for their accessibility. The Live Gamer Portable became popular due to its portability and PC free mode where users can record footage on an SDHC memory card with few limitations. Avermedia isn’t done just there, though, as the company has developed something that captures at both a high bitrate and frame rate. The only problem is that it doesn’t work most of the time.
AverMedia’s latest attempt to create a streaming device aimed towards video gamers has pretty much fallen through. The Live Gamer Extreme is their newest streaming box that touts 1080p, 60 frames per second, and uncompressed video, all capable thanks to a 3.0 USB connection. It even has two 3.5mm jacks on the front of the device for commentary through a microphone, if you don’t want to go through your PC, and AUX audio. It comes with all the connections you need to record from this generation of consoles to anything to supports component, and has customizable recording quality profiles that allow you to modify your bitrate upwards of 60Mbps and your audio bitrate as high as 256 kbps. It even has a spiffy interchangeable front cover that seems almost pointless unless you like to display your capture device.
As you can see, the Live Gamer Extreme has everything going for it, at least on paper. Right when you get to the actual software side of things, everything falls apart. The software seems fine at first, but once you get to use it, it become apparent how unusable it really is. It’s not that it’s difficult or poorly managed, it’s that it just doesn’t work. I’ve outlined the numerous issues we’ve run into below, hopefully giving you a good idea what to expect:
- Crashes – This device is just prone to crashes. Whether it’s purely random, cycling through the three different menus or starting and ending a capture, this device has crashed on us far too many times for our liking. This is probably the most frequent event we found that has caused us much distress.
- Losing Video Signal – Another occurrence, although a little less frequent than crashing, is the device seemingly losing video signal. This happened to us multiple times, and there’s nothing more infuriating than being in a middle of a match and it just cut out for no reason. It causes us to reboot both the computer and the device for it get back to work. We’re just glad the passthrough doesn’t require the computer to be on to function.
- Freezing – Alongside crashing, there are many freezes that occur generally when we finish a recording. Granted, the video file seems to come out fine, but the AverMedia’s REcentral 2 program will be stuck for a couple of minutes, not allowing any recording to take place until it works itself out of its binds.
- No Audio Recorded – Probably one of the most infuriating issues we had with the Live Gamer Extreme is a few of our videos recorded without audio. The device was able to capture the video just fine, but it was left without any audio to back it up. There’s nothing like recording a half an hour and hour long video only for it to be scrap.
- Black Screen When Starting Recording – This is a strange issue that really isn’t a HUGE deal, but definitely becomes annoying. On frequent occurrences (maybe 50% of the time), when pressing the record button, it will start recording for seven seconds where the screen is completely black before the game actually pops up. Fortunately, while it says it has been recording for seven seconds, the video file itself only really begins to record when the game appears. Regardless, it’s definitely something we wish was worked out as there were a couple times when we didn’t have the device recording and something popped up that we wanted to get saved, only to miss it thanks to this issue.
This is one of the most unstable capture devices we’ve ever used, and for a reputable company such as AverMedia to release it in its current state calls in question their ability to stand in the growing market.
It’s a real shame how unstable the AVerMedia RECentral 2 program is because, when it works, the Live Gamer Extreme is one of the better capture devices. Capturing upwards of 60Mbps, 1080p@60fps with strong H.264 encoding in an MP4 wrapper and 256 kbps audio, it seems all good on paper. Unfortunately, with constant crashes, frequent audio drops and video cutting out mid-recording, the Live Gamer Extreme ends up being an ugly mess. For $179.99 (or $219.99 in Canada), there’s no excuse for how stodgy their software is, making it an absolute waste of money. Until they get that sorted out, an Elgato HD60 is a much more reliable and affordable device, or if you want to shell out some extra dough, Black Magic’s latest internal PCIe creation that does upwards of 4K is another more beefy option. You won’t go wrong with these two.