As The verge Resident live-streaming reporter, I do a lot of streaming on my own time, because it’s fun and because I want to know a little bit about the people who cover it. This means that I have gained a healthy appreciation for the various pieces of gear that make streaming possible – because streaming is the opposite of effortlessness. Things constantly break, and most of the time for no apparent reason. (We walk there for the grace of God, etc.) All of that said, I’ve found that upgrading my stream setup is one of the few true pleasures I’ve left; There is nothing as satisfying as adding a new camera or microphone or chat command that can enhance a viewer’s experience.
It is in that spirit – the feeling of permanent tinkering and permanent upgrades – that I bring you the cheapest, best gear I own. It is a no-brand cam link that retails between $ 11 (eBay, but beware of shipping time) and $ 26.99 (Amazon). This device is one of those magical things made possible by the combination of online retail, integrated manufacturing in China and a global postal service. It could not exist before.
As a clone of the popular Elgato Cam Link 4K (which retails for $ 129.99), all devices convert HDMI to USB, which is conceptually simpler but technically more complex. The best of these tools do this conversion very quickly and at high fidelity; The Algato version also handles 4K resolution. Due to the epidemic and people who have joined Twitch and YouTube, however, it has been difficult to find a brand-name model where it is a strange knockoff model. My colleague. Grayson, A motion designer The ledgeBursted me for a day in early June, when he watched an excellent video review of the device from YouTuber Eposureox.
I felt that the review was reassuring, so I figured I’d try it for myself. My friend and fellow dreamer Micham dipped with me; We decided that we would try to upgrade our video streams on the cheap because hey, why not? We each bought a 2018 GoPro Hero, some micro HDMI to HDMI cable, a non-HDCP HDMI splitter and of course one of these cards. The difference was immediately apparent. I was switching between my Logitech C922 and Panasonic Lumix GH5 (which I borrow to shoot late-night shows on Twitch), and I could immediately see that GoPro’s video compared to the C922 How clean (With a splitter, the HDMI converter doubles as an extremely cheap capture card for a console, although I would personally recommend shelling out for the more fully featured Elgato HD 60S) experiment. Worked.
Naturally, the show had a star capture card. It has many limitations: it can only support 1080p / 60fps input, and its output is maximum at 1080p / 30fps or 720p / 60fps. It also converts the image to MJPEG, which means that the colors are sometimes a little brighter. (I used a filter in OBS to desaturate the image.) It sometimes lags behind, which is a problem because you can’t really tell Google how to fix the problem – no manual There is, in fact, no more troubleshooting. The other thing to remember is that not all these cheap cards are created equal; If you pick up one billed as USB 3.0, or one that looks a little different, it’s a completely different device.
But if you can work within those limits, the device is a dream. It’s Plug ‘n’ Play: The card appears on your computer as a “USB video”, and it works anywhere you’d put a webcam, including zoom, discord, OBS, and more. The price point is also unbeatable. Recently I have been using it with Lumix. It’s always a pleasure to plug in because I know it’s going to work. If you want to see what the action looks like, feel free to follow me.
Otherwise, if you have a camera that outputs HDMI and opens (or can’t) for an algato, I’d say pick it up a bit. This is a cheap upgrade, which, for me, is absolutely worth it. See for yourself.