Genki ShadowCast evaluate: a intelligent however restricted seize card

The ShadowCast from Genki is a dongle-size video seize card which may present all that some players and streamers want. It’s $45, a comparatively low value for a no-frills machine that may get your console video games onto your PC. Nevertheless it has some limitations. The video high quality isn’t nice, and there’s a noticeable quantity of lag if you happen to’re attempting to play together with the stream. These compromises aren’t a shock, contemplating the ShadowCast prices a fraction of the value of one thing extra succesful like Elgato’s HD60 S+.

You possibly can really go a bit cheaper than Genki’s $45 if you happen to’re prepared to roll the cube on high quality management. Final yr we coated an inexpensive (between $10 and $30, normally) no-brand HDMI seize card that’s similar to this one, and maybe its port association could also be extra handy for you. In contrast to the ShadowCast, which plugs into an HDMI port and has a USB-C-in port on its different finish, the cheaper various has HDMI-in and USB-out, so you possibly can simply plug in an HDMI cable chances are you’ll already personal. Genki will get the nod, although, each by way of construct high quality and its companion software program. I’ll get into the latter half under.

Our evaluate of
Human Issues Genki ShadowCast

Verge Rating

7 out of 10

Good Stuff

  • Compact design
  • Companion app works on Home windows, macOS, and a few browsers
  • Strong worth
  • Works nicely as a digital camera hyperlink

Dangerous Stuff

  • Video seize appears fuzzy and is a bit laggy
  • The Arcade app isn’t supported but on Android or iPadOS

Purchase for $44.99 from Genki

Purchase for $49.99 from Amazon

It’s simple to get the ShadowCast up and operating on PC or macOS. It’ll work with any machine with an HDMI-out port, so the PS5, Xbox Sequence X, Nintendo Swap and a few older consoles are coated. That additionally contains DSLR or mirrorless cameras that you simply would possibly need to use as a high-end webcam. The ShadowCast has a USB-C port on its different facet, which you’ll connect with your PC with the included six-foot USB-C-to-C 2.0 cable, or your individual C-to-A cable. It additionally works seamlessly with streaming functions like OBS Studio. Should you’re utilizing the ShadowCast as an interface for a digital camera, it’ll work with Zoom, Microsoft Groups, Google Meet, and different in style video conferencing apps. You would possibly want a dongle in case your digital camera doesn’t have a full-sized HDMI port. A micro or mini HDMI dongle ought to get the job accomplished.

Once I attached the ShadowCast to my Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II digital camera to make use of it as a webcam, it labored nicely, with negligible latency points.. It produces much better colours and readability than a standard webcam, although in my case, I might solely get a picture by way of HDMI by bumping the digital camera’s output decision right down to 720p. Which may be a difficulty with my digital camera, and never the ShadowCast, so your digital camera might be able to output to larger resolutions with out difficulty.

Visually, the distinction between 720p (left) and 1080p (proper) is putting, however I want the 60fps constancy of the decrease decision.

The ShadowCast’s specs are aggressive for sub-$50 seize options, and its flaws are usually comparable, too. It helps as much as 1080p enter decision at 30 frames per second, or a 720p picture at a quicker 60 frames per second. Each modes supply various ranges of graininess, so this machine isn’t for folks aiming to indicate all the granular visible particulars in PS5 video games — or actually any recreation — with pixel-perfect illustration. Constancy apart, I seen that colours from some pattern photographs and pictures look much less vibrant and have much less distinction than I’d see by immediately connecting my console to a monitor. Neither flaw is that stunning, given the value.

A slider comparability of picture high quality, with a 720p mannequin on the left and a 1080p mannequin on the proper.

The lag whereas gaming is one other difficulty. The delay within the incoming video feed is perceivable to the purpose that it might be game-breaking relying in your preferences. Lag is actually solely a difficulty if you happen to’re enjoying strictly by way of the feed coming in from the ShadowCast; most streamers who need to play and stream on the similar time from a console use an HDMI splitter and as an alternative play their video games on a display screen that has a direct connection to their console, thus avoiding latency. I used the ShadowCast with different cables, in addition to USB-C and USB-A ports on two completely different computer systems, however the latency points have been the identical it doesn’t matter what.

The ShadowCast is a viable however restricted choice for streamers in comparison with pricier choices. Nevertheless it’s extra user-friendly than another opponents if all you need to do is document your self speaking over gameplay and add the video to your channel in a while. Genki makes that simple to do by way of its free Arcade app for macOS and Home windows 10 machines. Extra impressively, it really works by way of Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge, too. As soon as your console is linked, you possibly can hit document and chat by way of your microphone as you play, and the recording will decide up each recreation audio and your voice. You possibly can take snapshots, too, which is helpful if you happen to’re making guides for recreation walkthroughs.

The app on macOS and the browser-based variations supply all the options above. However on Home windows, it’ll allow you to play your video games, however you possibly can’t document footage or mic audio presently. The macOS app additionally outputs several types of recordsdata than the browser model. On macOS, you’ll get an .mp4 file, however the browser-based model outputs a .webm video file that’s viewable (and could be transformed to .mp4) in VLC Participant. It’s not an enormous deal, but it surely’s an additional step, because you’ll seemingly must convert it to a extra suitable video file format earlier than importing.

Right here’s a clip recorded by way of the Genki Arcade software program in “Favor Efficiency” mode, which units the ShadowCast to 720p at 60 frames per second.

Right here’s a clip recorded by way of the Genki Arcade software program in “Favor Decision” mode, which units the ShadowCast to 1080p at 30 frames per second.

Genki can be touting that its app and the ShadowCast ought to attraction to individuals who casually use their laptops or desktops as a show for his or her recreation consoles. There’s little purpose to do that when you have a close-by TV, because you’ll get much less latency with a direct connection. This methodology makes much more sense if you happen to’re in, say, a lodge with simply your laptop computer, or if you happen to don’t personal a devoted TV and the largest display screen you’ve bought is your desktop all-in-one. If these extremely particular circumstances describe your state of affairs, this isn’t a foul strategy to go.

No matter your use circumstances are, Genki claims that its Arcade app has much less latency than if you happen to have been to run the ShadowCast as a video supply by way of OBS Studio, when examined on a 2020 base mannequin M1 13-inch MacBook Professional. At most, it says the discount in latency could be as much as 50ms, however that it varies and could also be lower than that. However on my setup, the discount in latency with the Arcade app wasn’t too noticeable. Genki informed me that latency could be impacted by components like whether or not you’re utilizing a laptop computer that’s being charged versus operating off the battery, and whether or not your PC’s specs can sustain. In my case, it feels just like enjoying video games through cloud streaming over a so-so web connection. Like I discussed above, that may be a deal-breaker for some, or not a priority for others.

Should you’re skeptical concerning the ShadowCast, $45 isn’t that a lot to gamble, in comparison with pricier options. I just like the companion software program (together with a web-based answer), which simplifies placing your recreation on a PC or laptop computer display screen. And as a streaming answer, its video high quality is serviceable, as long as capturing high-fidelity footage isn’t important.

Images by Cameron Faulkner / The Verge

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