Live Gamer Mini Delivers at a Budget Price
Once upon a time, not so long ago, capturing footage from your favorite game was really hard. Capture equipment was bulky, wildly expensive, and more unstable than a pirate with two peg legs on a tightrope. Things have gotten way better lately though, with companies like Elgato and Avermedia pushing towards ease of use. For the past month, I’ve been poking and prodding Avermedia’s latest device – the Live Gamer Mini. I have some thoughts.
What are the things consumers want out of a device like this? In my mind, the top 3 are: reliability, performance/quality, and ease of use. In the past, I’ve wrestled with drivers and the RECentral app, so I was quite curious to see how things have progressed with Avermedia’s product offerings.
Live Gamer Mini is a 1080p, 60fps device. Having 4k recording or at least passthrough would’ve been a pleasant surprise – rewiring every time I wanted a 4k signal was a bit of a hassle. Thankfully, the passthrough seems speedy and I didn’t notice any lag even in timing heavy games. Avermedia’s RECentral app has gotten better, and provides enough flexibility for most capture needs though the clarity of design needs an overhaul. Finding the options you’re looking for is a chore, and the app does a marginal job explaining what the various options do. For someone unfamiliar with capturing, it’d be easy to end up with a poor quality product. With everything maxed out though, the footage coming out of the Live Gamer Mini is solid. Archival, zero problems perfection? No, but more than satisfactory for just about any practical use and a huge step above the built in capture solutions on today’s consoles. The footage tells the tale, and you’d be hard pressed to tell one device from another once uploaded to YouTube. For real though, most people probably wouldn’t even notice the seam in the image below.
I’m also pleased that Avermedia included a hardware encoding solution in the box. That means your capture exploits won’t put any load on your CPU – with some setting restrictions – and if you happen to be gaming and streaming from the same machine, that’s a big deal.
With all the plugging and unplugging (gotta get my Netflix on, y’all), it’s fortunate that Live Gamer Mini seems pretty easy going. Using the Elgato HD 60 for the past few years, I’d gotten used to electronic temper tantrums. My particular HD 60 needed a highly specific set of steps to 1) work and 2) continue to work. Whoever invented the term handshaking should be taken out behind the barn and *cough* dealt with.
No such trouble with the Live Gamer Mini. Plug the l’il bugger in anytime, and it’ll mostly sort itself out without fiddling. The hardware seems highly reliable using 3rd party platforms like OBS too and would be a good capture option for streamers thanks to the StreamEngine plugin. True to their word, the Live Gamer Mini is shockingly low latency despite the USB 2.0 connection. So low in fact, that you could play most games while looking at the stream interface. That’s pretty impressive. I’d probably discourage beginners from dabbling in OBS if you’re just capturing and uploading footage though, as getting crappy results can be a bummer and OBS is basically Mt. Settings.
The physical device is quite mini, as the name implies, and feels durable enough to chuck in a backpack without worrying too much. The braided USB cable is a nice touch, but a matching HDMI cable would’ve been nice to see included.
What else can I really say here? The Live Gamer Mini works exactly as expected, doesn’t create a fuss, and is easy to get going in a few minutes. It’s a great device, and I’d happily take it on the road or throw it into a streaming setup. In fact, you’ll likely be seeing some Live Gamer Mini footage on YouTube in the future. Think you can guess which footage is from the budget box without checking the resolution? Hint: I doubt it. The RECentral app could definitely still use some work, but if the resolution restrictions fit your use case, $129 the Live Gamer Mini should definitely be on your shopping shortlist.
*Review Unit provided by Avermedia*