- (Almost) none of these cards will record more than 2 channels of audio. If your source playback device allows you to output uncompressed multichannel PCM and you don't mind recompressing, the cheapest option I'm aware of allowing more than 2 channels is the BlackMagic Decklink Mini Recorder card paired with an HDCP stripper (as of Sept '13). Options for capturing compressed audio directly are more limited. I personally use an old PC with an audio card that has an optical TOSLINK input (Mad Dog Entertainer, VIA Envy24 chip) which ignores the SCMS copy protection bit. That isn't really feasible for most people. I've yet to find a cheap device that strips SCMS, even though it is way simpler to build than an HDCP stripper. You could sync the audio from another source if it's available, of course. Apart from that the only SCMS-ignoring capture card I know of is the Hauppauge Colossus, which compresses its video input to H.264 and doesn't allow lossless capture. So for the best results you would have to capture to both cards at the same time (splitter) and combine the best video with the best audio...
- Windows PC with maximum ~5-year-old processor (desktop highly preferable, but laptop okay)
- Desktop: available PCIe x1/x4/x16 slot (the faster, the better for reliability) / Laptop: available Expresscard slot or USB 3.0 port
- Separate SATA hard disk drive with a fast write speed (2TB / 3TB / 4TB; I use Seagate 5400RPM and they are fast enough) -or- a giant SSD -- DO NOT CAPTURE TO YOUR OS DRIVE!
- Tons of free HDD space (100GB/hr you record, before compressing to your output i.e. x264)
- HDMI cables long enough to reach from your PC to your AV source (2)
- $66-250 USD
Cheapest solution available:
- Timeleak HD72A ($55, down from $66 in Oct 2013) [This card mattes 4~6px to black on the edges of HDMI captures.]
- The HDCP-Ignoring Method: Any active (powered) HDMI splitter ($18) + Timeleak HD72A ($55)
- The HDCP Stripper Method: "ViewHD 2 Port 1x2 Powered HDMI Mini Splitter for 1080P & 3D" ($23) + any HDMI capture device ($???, preferably capable of lossless capture)
The generic HDMI splitter mentioned above strips HDCP, for whatever reason. There is one cheaper stripping splitter that I've been told works well.
For a few years now, China has been producing their own cheap capture card models that "secretly" ignore copy protection. Only recently, the HDMI boards have started showing up on eBay instead of just the import sites.
Unless otherwise noted, all of these cards max out at 720p60 and 1080i60. That's all you need for HDTV capturing, but for recording movies from Netflix, Vudu, and other web sources it is preferable to go for a 1080p24 or 1080p30 card.
Timeleak HD72A (1080p24)
$66 - http://www.ebay.com/itm/HDMI-Video-Capture-PCI-E-Card-1080i-1080P-For-Camcorder-DVD-DVR-PS3-XBOX-360-/181185928232 [black borders]
$110 - http://www.ebay.com/itm/HDMI-input-PCI-E-High-Def-HD-video-grabber-capture-card-720P-1080i-fr-XP-Vista-7-/251215742547
If you won't do eBay or the sellers won't ship to you, you can buy it for a markup: http://dx.com/p/hdmi-1-3-pci-express-high-definition-video-capture-card-72046 ($138.60 worldwide)
Timeleak HD72B (1080p30, HDMI OUTPUT)
$125 - http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-HDMI-Output-HDMI-Input-Blu-ray-HD-Video-Capture-Card-grabber-Converter-PCI-E-/370738348664 [black borders]
Mine HD887 (1080p30)
$133 - http://www.ebay.com/itm/PCI-E-1080P-30Hz-HDMI-Capture-Card-Real-Time-Supports-Blue-Ray-/280993117951
$140 - HD 75A (1080p24) http://www.ebay.com/itm/Blu-ray-1080P-HDMI-Video-Converter-PCI-E-Video-Capture-Card-/261110211878 [black borders]
Skydigital SKYHD Capture X HDMI SKY-CXHDMI (HDCP STRIPPER REQUIRED unless you find the details of a supposed "trick", supports AC3/DTS, Korean rather than Chinese)
~$200 with middleman fees / JPY 11,272 - http://www.ecj.jp/U1301.doit?goods=836943&mk=1
JPY 12,684 - http://www.amazon.co.jp/???????????-HDMI?????????-SKYHD-Capture-SKY-CXHDMI/dp/B004CCQVHS/
$110 - http://www.ebay.com/itm/Laptop-HDMI-Express-HD-Video-Capture-Card-Fr-PS3-XBOX360-720P-1080i-XP-Vista-7-/370739470361
Skydigital SKY-CXHDMIU3 (HDCP STRIPPER REQUIRED (possibly?), 1080p30, supports AC3/DTS, Korean rather than Chinese)
$197 + unknown shipping - http://www.gooddigitalshop.com/skydigital-captureu3.0-hdmi-1080p-external-video-capture-card.html
$233 - http://www.ebay.com/itm/Skydigital-CaptureU3-0-HDMI-1080p-External-Video-Capture-Card-/261132234216
How to capture video with the card
- All of the devices listed above are DirectShow compatible, and so you should be able to capture using any program of your choice. Recommendations are VirtualDub and AmaRecTV.
- Install Ut Video Codec for the best-performing, best-compressing lossless codec. It is better than the multi-threaded version of Huffyuv. For regular HD content it gives a 4:1 compression ratio, which means a 1-hour 720p or 1080i recording takes up 100GB instead of 398GB/447GB.
- As noted above, your audio will be limited to 48kHz 2.0 PCM unless you get one of the cards that supports AC3/DTS. Devices that record more LPCM channels are hard to come by; BlackMagic seems to be the only one with a reasonable price in the Decklink Mini Recorder.
YouTube example using the HD72A to capture "The Dark Knight" Blu-ray from PS3 at 1080p24: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1wezhH63Ow
This post has been edited.