How to pick a capture card? What kind of capture card do I need? [2023]

There are various kinds of capture cards around the market. The best pick really depends on your needs and the resolution you want to stream at. Of course, your budget will determine what kind of capture card you can buy. But there are several options for neophytes and experts alike. In this guide, we will talk about what to invest in a so -called “capture card”. Internal vs. External You first have to determine between internal or external capture cards. Each has its own pros and cons.  Internal capture cards require some pre knowledge of the computer system, which may be more suitable for PC builders. Most PCIe (PCI express) capture cards may require a driver for installation, that’s why we suggest it’s better for those with better understanding on PC. On the other hand, most of the external capture cards are plugged into a computer through a USB cable, which is easier to use and much more portable compared to an internal capture card. With Driver vs Plug-n-Play Regardless if you are looking for an internal capture card or an external capture card, certain manufactures will ask you to install a driver while others allow you to plug-n-play (without driver).   When a capture card requires a driver, most of the time it requires proprietary software to process the image or process the hardware.   The downside about a driver is that you will require it each time when you switch to different computers.  You will also need to update the proprietary software each time the OS updates.  This used to be the case for operating systems previous to Windows 7.  Nowadays, most capture cards are plug-n-play and use a standard driver that’s embedded in your operating system  Lucky for us, as long as you have a recent computer, this might not be something that you need to worry about.   Capture Card with pass-through? You might see many capture cards with a feature called Passthrough or HDMI-Passthrough. What is this and do you need it? Well, it depends on what you are capturing and why you are capturing.   As stated above, when capturing, a capture card processes the HDMI signal for the computer to recognize. A capture card with passthrough, in this case, has another route that does not process the HDMI signal at all. Thus, you can see your gameplay on your display with the original data, which means the highest-resolution gameplay without any latency. For instance, if your console game is at 4K, then you can pass through your gameplay onto your screen in 4K as well.  However, this does not equal the capture resolution. Some capture cards allow 4K pass-through yet can only capture 1080p. When reading the specification, keep an eye on the capture resolution and pass-through resolution.  If you want gameplay and live stream at the same time, a capture card with pass-through will be essential. However, if you just want to capture a DSLR, or camcorder directly, then you don’t need the HDMI passthrough option in the capture card. Capture cards with an external power adapter vs. no power adapter You might have seen some capture cards requiring an external power adapter and some don’t. That’s talk about their pros and cons.   Any electronic device that processes data, regardless of video or text, requires power (electricity) and bandwidth. Thus, a capture card without a power adapter will have to borrow both power and bandwidth from your computer via USB. In this case, if you want to process high-quality images or videos without a power adapter, it’s recommended to make sure that your computer USB ports work independently from adjacent USB ports.   On the other hand, having the external power adapter does not take the computer electricity since the adapter will cover the duty. However, a power adapter usually takes up space and is inconvenient to move around. For users who need to frequently change their setting or want to stream outside, this may not be the ideal choice.    Choosing the right capture resolution for you  Resolution decides how well your video can be presented in front of your audience.  If the streaming platforms only support 720p, then just purchase a capture card that captures at 720p.  However, in recent years, more and more streaming services have upscale its support resolution to  4K, which means you’ll need to find a capture card that can capture at 4K. Maintaining high quality content is one of the keys for upscaling the viewer number for streamers. Think about the content creator you want to be and strive to produce that level of content. Professional streamers don’t broadcast in dimly lit rooms.  Learn more about resolution over here! In terms of resolution, make sure that all your devices, (1) the device you want to capture, (2) the capture card, (3) the capture computer, all three components support the same resolution and specifications.   Capture input type The information above was assuming that the capture source is a HDMI signal, but there are various types of interfaces that you can capture, such as VGA,  DVI, composite, or many more etc. Make sure your capture card supports the source device input signal and interface. source: https://blog.tripplite.com/how-to-connect-a-tablet-to-a-dvi-monitor-flat-screen-tv-or-hdmi-projector/ Conclusion We talked a lot in this article. Here’s the small summary to help you compare different types of capture cards.    Internal External Require PC building knowledge Usually require driver Usually comes with plug-n-play Portability   Need Driver Without Driver Usually with Windows 7 and below Usually come with proprietary software which need extra installation Need frequent update Usually with Windows 8 and above Plug-n-Play feature Compatible with any editing software   Without Passthrough With Passthrough More suitable for DSLR, Camcorder User Allow user monitor their gameplay, great feature for user with console   Need Power Adapter No Need Power Adapter Does not take computer electricity Low portability Require extra charger (adapter) Independent USB port required Better portability With more and more streaming options available online, the considerations will only get loaded.  Luckily, Pengo tries to make things simple for the streamer! We’ve made our capture cards driverless, no need for extra software , regardless if it’s USB or PCIe interface, external or internal,  and without power adapter.   Things might change in the future as technology progresses but for the moment, we feel that these are the best solutions for capture cards.  Check out our capture cards and if you run into questions, do not hesitate to contact us.  Happy streaming! 20221123

Why do you need a capture card? [2023]

If you’re thinking about live video game streaming on Twitch or YouTube, you might want to know whether you will need a capture card and why you need it. In this article, you'll get to know how a capture card works and how to pick the right capture card as per needs.  What is a "capture card" and how does it work? A capture card is a tool that “captures” the video signal from one end and encodes the video signal into a format that can be processed by the output device.  For instance, say you want to record your gameplay from your PS5 to your PC. You will need a capture card that connects your PS5 and your PC, since neither your PS5 nor your computer can capture and record your screenplay on its own. Capture cards come in two different types: external and internal. An external capture card is plugged into the PC via USB, meanwhile an internal capture card is directly installed into the PC's motherboard PCIe slot. We will explain more in the section below.   Many capture cards also have an additional audio input for an external microphone, allowing users to record both gameplay and commentary in one simple setting.  Do you need a Capture Card? Many people may have this question: If I’m not aiming for a professional, do I still need a capture card to record gameplay? If I just want to record games via my PC, do I still need a capture card? First of all, if you want to record from another outsource device — camera, Xbox, Playstation — you will need to get a capture card to output the data onto your PC for live stream or record for later editing. This is because the PC can not process the video signal from the console. The capture card is necessary to convert the HDMI signal into USB signal for a computer to process.   How about you want to record a PC game from your desktop? Do you still need a capture card? The answer to this is yes and no. Since the source stream is coming from the PC itself, the capture card is not necessary.   Yet, if doing so, you may encounter some major issue with the PC recording softwares. For instance, how can you play and see your recording quality at the same time? If you want to record or stream with high definition, which is crucial for producing professional-quality content, a capture card is still preferred. A capture card can also reduce the computer load, smoothing your gaming experience. Besides, many capture cards allow you to record or stream from multiple devices at once, making it ideal for multi-camera setups.  What to look for your Capture Card? There are many options for capture cards, the price range from 20 USD to above 400 USD.   It’s always good to know what you want to output and choose the best device for yourself.  There are few things to consider: Resolution:  Resolution is a measurement of how many pixels that can be contained on screen.  It describes the sharpness, or clarity, of an image or video frame.  A higher resolution means the screen contains more pixels, which means it can output more visual information. As a result, a high-resolution video will be clearer than a low-resolution one. Most of the popular streaming platforms such as Youtube and Twitch allow users to stream games in a lot of resolutions, and channels are choosing to stream in resolutions across the spectrum.  Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:YouTube-resolution-comparison.jpg Keep in mind that many capture cards on the market only support 1080p. If you want to record your game in 4K, remember to double check the capture resolution on the product specifications. Input resolution is very different from the capture resolution. Frame rate:  Frame rate is the frequency at which images are displayed or captured in a video. It’s usually expressed as “frames per second,” or FPS. If a video is captured and played back at 30fps, that means the video shows 30 distinct still images in every 1 second. To put it short,  a higher frame rate allows the motion to be smooth and crisp details. Different FPS generates different results. Sometimes high frame rate will result in unnatural footage due to too much detail involved on screen. On the other hand, if the frame rate is too low, the video may appear to be choppy. The chosen FPS is dependent on the style of your content.  A low FPS will be mandated if you are producing a film or TV show. On the other hand, if there is a lot of motion in your content, a high FPS will be required to capture and display the activities smoothly. A high FPS will also give you more detail of the captured motions. Source: https://library.berklee.edu/knowledge-base/frames-second We’ve listed  some common use cases for different fps.   24FPS Travel videos Vlogs and TV Shows Television Standard Movie High-definition videos 30FPS Fast Pace Video with details Vlogs and TV shows Broadcasting News Sports Action 60FPS Slow-motions capture Video include many visual information  High-quality footage Internal vs external: As mentioned, there are two different types of capture cards: internal and external.  There is little to no difference in the functionality of the two types. It is recommended, however, that you opt for an internal capture card if you’re not planning on using it on multiple computers because a PCI-E connection is more reliable. Yet, an internal capture card, of course, required that you have a desktop PC and not a laptop!  Internal capture card uses a PCI-e base in your motherboard On the other hand, an external capture card is a way to go if you work with a laptop or need to move around your recording set frequently.  External capture cards with USB 3.0 are able to output 4K signals, which is pretty sufficient for most of the streamers.  Read the extended article –  What’s the difference between USB 3.0 and 2.0.  Console and support system: Make sure that you have matched the specifications of your device with the capture card manufacturer's requirements. Your capture card must be able to support the recording device input type as well. Most of the popular gaming consoles, such as Playstation and Xbox, accept HDMI transfers.Yet, if you are recording Nintendo Switch gameplay then you will need the Nintendo Dock base to connect the HDMI cable.  If you are using Mac as your primary PC remember to check the support system and make sure that your capture software such as QuickTime Player, VLC or OBS supports your MacOS version. For streamers who want to record their voice within gameplay, ensure your capture card has microphone input! Conclusion: All in all, after this basic introduction, you may have more knowledge about capture cards now. However, there is always more to learn. Video capture technology is always evolving just as a streaming industry standard. [Check out our other articles] for more tech news. Keep up your knowledge like a pro!  If you still hesitate to make your decision, you can also contact us for suggestions!  You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for more tech info! 2022/11/14

Will the radiation from mobile phones/wireless charger harm your health?

Radiation is inevitable with all the electrical devices we use nowadays.  For example, the microwave, mobile phones, and wireless chargers.  People embrace cutting-edge technology whilst they actually concern about the safety of using it.  Is the radiation of mobile phone/wireless charger the same with the radiation of nuclear power and X-rays? Let us explain it. First, let’s start by knowing the different types of radiation.  Ionizing radiation refers to those with short wavelengths, more energy, and leads to DNA damage or carcinogenicity.  Such as X-rays and nuclear radiation.  In contrast, non-ionizing radiation is the one with longer wavelengths and less energy.  Fortunately, the radiation produced by electrical appliances in our lives is in the range of non-ionizing radiation.  Non-ionizing radiation will only cause warmth as long as we don’t expose ourselves in the environment with too much heat caused by non-ionizing radiation.  Basically, there’s no harm to our health! Besides the number of people getting confused with non-ionizing radiation and ionizing radiation.  There are even more rumors and discussions about whether radiation from mobile phones/wireless chargers (non-ionizing radiation) is carcinogenic or not.  In 2010, according to the researches done by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the radiation from mobile phones/wireless chargers is in the frequency band as category 2B, which represents for insufficient epidemiological evidence and limited animal experimental evidence of possible human carcinogens - the same level as kimchi and coffee. Additionally, researchers suggest that the radiation increases whilst the mobile phone signal is weak.  The farther distance you are from those electrical devices, less radiation you get (when the distance doubles, the intensity of the electromagnetic wave will decrease by 1/4). Therefore, keep a distance from the devices and avoid using the phone when the service is not stable can both be the solution to keep you healthy. p.s. The electromagnetic wave of the mobile phone will not increase due to the amount of applications you use.  Therefore, the radiation does not increase when using SKYPE to make a phone call! Finally, if you want to know more about technology insights, visit Pengo’s Facebook fan page and press LIKE.  We will have occasional giveaways or promotions for you and your friends!  Follow us! Reference: National Communications Commission Posted Date: 24/8/2020

What is HDR?

I’m sure you’ve all heard of HDR before, at least you’ve seen it on your devices like your mobile phone and/or TV monitor.  And yet, not sure what HDR is and what does it actually mean? HDR is the abbreviation for High-Dynamic Range and its existent counterpart is SDR which stands for Standard-Dynamic Range.  SDR is also the commonly-used standard in the current film and television content production market. High-Dynamic Range mainly refers to better luminance, color and contrast of the image closer to what the human eye sees in real life.  What monitors can show us is still very limited and not to mention the impact caused by the surroundings.  Under this circumstance, manufactures have to decide what element they should keep or discard during the production of imaging. The most notable difference you can see from HDR is the luminance. The human eye can see from 0.0001 to 20,000 nits (a unit of brightness), compare to the traditional CRT TV that is only 100 nits (SDR standard), which was something we still had room to improve for.  When the television developed to a certain level, it is when developers started to look for improvements which lead to the birth of HDR.  A significant improvement of 1000 nits, 10 times more than the traditional standard. Although this is still far from 20,000 nits (the brightest human can see), but yet it is a revolutionary move in the TV industry. Apart from luminance, we can resemble SDR and HDR color like two boxes of color pencils.  SDR color pencils only have 16.67 million different colors whereas HDR color pencils have as high as 1.7 billion colors.  So, the difference between HDR and SDR is not just noticeable, but significantly distinct.  When we look at the two different types of imaging, we can immediately tell the difference.  HDR shows more colors, more details and more luminance. The dark part won’t be pitch black and the white part won’t be plain white, but instead, detail colors and profile becomes closer to the human eye. Sometimes when we talk about color depth, we hear things like 8 bits or 10 bits rather than 16.67 million or 1.7 billion like what was mentioned above?  Now, let us explain the concept more thoroughly to you, we all know that the primary three colors for light is Red, Blue and Green, which we often recognized and abbreviated as RGB.  All colors and be generated with the mix of Red, Blue, and Green.  The 8 bits of the SDR correspond to the red, blue and green colors, each having 0 to 255 (for the traditional RGB), a total of 256 numbers (28) (the value, that is, all the colors that can be mixed are 256 x 256 x 256 equal to about 16.67 million kinds!  As for the HDR 10 bits corresponding to the 1.07 billion is 210x 210x 210!  Don't worry if you can't understand this, just remember that the color that HDR can display is much richer than SDR! Now that we have talked a lot about HDR, hope you are now more excited about this feature and you can’t wait to give it a try!  Please do note that, to enable HDR feature, you need to ensure that all your devices and accessories are HDR compatible. That said, if whichever device or adapter isn’t HDR compatible, you will not be able to enjoy HDR on your monitor, it will only be SDR.  Our Pengo USB-C to HDMI HDR is made just for you, made for this purpose.  What if you don’t have a HDR monitor yet?  Well, since HDR is only going to be more common in the market, it is better to have the accessory ready for HDR.  Get one of our USB-C to HDMI HDR adapter, so you can enjoy high-definition imaging at home!  You are saving your money for future technology!   *2018/11/13

Confused about volts, amps, and watts?

I believe that everyone is familiar with the words Volt (V), Ampere (A), and Watt (W), from the general socket (110V), but a converter may be used abroad (ie: 220V to 110V), to cables that we carry around (ie: 1A), and mobile phone battery markings (ie: iphone5 3.8V 5.45Whr). These three words actually exist in our daily lives. It might seem very familiar to us, but we might not know exactly what it means? Let us explain it to you! Volt (V) Volt is actually the unit of voltage.  And if the electricity is imagined as water, the voltage corresponds to the water pressure, in simple terms, it is the power of electricity.  Here, we will not only introduce to you where you’ll find volts in your daily life, but also list the precautions for volts.  Because if the voltage of power supply terminal and the voltage of the appliance do not match, it may cause the appliance to burn or be damaged! Precaution 1: When traveling US sockets are generally 110V, therefore electrical appliances plugs for the US are also designed to match the voltage of 110.  However, the socket voltages in China, Europe and other places are all 220V!  If you don't pay attention and plug it in directly, it is very likely to burn and damage the appliance for good!  Hereby we remind the readers to confirm the socket voltage of the destination before traveling.  If you are traveling to a destination different from the US, please remember to carry a converter! Precaution 2:  Choosing a power bank So far, the standard voltage of USB is 5V±0.25V.  However, the output voltage of some power banks on the market will be higher than 5.25V or lower than 4.75V, so it is easy to cause the phone to burn out or cause internal circuit damage.  Pengo is here to remind the readers to pay more attention when selecting power banks!  Also don't be greedy and cheap, you get what you paid for.   Ampere (A) Ampere is the unit of current. If the electricity is imagined as water, the current corresponds to the size of the water flow. The main influence of current is the speed of charging - in fact, this is not entirely correct.  What really affects the charging speed is actually Watts, and Watt = Volt x Amps.  Therefore, the larger amperage is to increase the input wattage under the same voltage to increase the charging speed. Most of today's mobile phones have current management chips.  If the current is large, it will automatically adjust to the current that the mobile phone can charge, but the charging speed is relatively limited by the mobile phone itself, and it will not increase indefinitely. Be aware that when the current required by the electrical device (ie: 3A) and the current that the converter can provide (ie, 3A) are greater than the current that can be applied by the charging cable (ie, 1A), the charging line is likely to be damaged.  This is why Pengo is able to charge 3A, 5A devices with our charging cable!  If a charging cable can load up to 3A or 5A, it has a wider range of devices that this cable can charge.  In 2012, USB-IF (USB Developer Forum) proposed USB-PD, which is to meet the power supply requirements of various devices through a single charging cable.  Whether the charging cable can load the corresponding current is also an important aspect!  (For more information on USB-PD, URL) Watt (W) Watt is the unit of power, as we previously mention watt = volt x ampere.  Devices or electrical appliances that consume electricity are usually related to watts.  Let’s talk a little bit about Watt-hour (Wh) and milliampere-hour (mAh) Milliampere-hours (mAh) unit is not a scientifically formal usage, but a unit that is easy for consumers to understand! mAh = mA × hour. For example: If a cellphone has a battery capacity of 1500 mAh, and it is charged with 1,000 mA (1A), it will be fully charged in about 1.5 hours; if the capacity of a battery is 10,000 mAh, with a continuous current of 1A, it can last up to 10 hours. As for Watt-hour (Wh), most people are unfamiliar with it, but if you look at the carry-on baggage restrictions for batteries, you cannot bring more than 100Wh of battery!  Most of the battery or power banks will only list the amount of volts (V) and the amount of milliamperes-hours (mAh) but does not tell you the watt-hour (Wh).  Let us provide you the formula to calculate Wh: Watt-hour (Wh) = (milliampere-hour (mAh) / 1000) x volt (V) Based on the below image of power bank, (13000mAh/1000) x 5V = 65Wh. It’s below 100Wh, therefore you can bring it on your carry-on bag. Hopefully after reading this article, you have a preliminary concept of these terms.  Now when you want to buy power banks or charging cables, you can pay attention to the specification markings and know what they mean!  Finally, if you want to know more technical information, LIKE our Pengo FB page.  We will have occasional giveaways or promotions for you and your friends!  Follow us! *2018/12/24  

6 Things to do before you start streaming!

Streaming games is everywhere right now, it doesn’t matter if you’re watching your friends clutch their way through Fortnite or join the record numbers of over 45 Million people concurrently watching League of Legends, watching games has become just as big as playing it yourself. With the most popular streamers becoming not only celebrities but also wealthy, there are more and more parallels with professional athletes. On the e-sports side, players sign contracts with professional organizations to earn a yearly salary most people can only dream of at that age, while the amateur streamers are mostly entertainers, skilled entertainers that is. With the number of subscribers that popular streamers like Ninja, PewdiePie, and Tyler1 have they are already earning $50.000 - $100.000 every month purely on Twitch Subscription revenue. At that level, there is not much difference between being a professional athlete, or a professional streamer. And much like traditional sports, where you can play for fun with friends or play in an amateur team, nothing beats watching professionals on TV or in real life to get inspired and get the best exposure of your sport possible.   *Picture by Anonymous Gamer YouTube But streaming your games isn’t always as straightforward as you’d want it to be. Your PC might not be able to handle things well, you can’t show your webcam or adjust your layout while streaming on a PS4 or Xbox One, but luckily there’s a small box, with a big solution for all this. Let’s explore the things we need to start streaming and what is required for it. First, you need software to stream. The most popular options are OBS (Open Broadcasting Software) and XSplit. OBS is completely free, while XSPlit requires a license fee to use its most popular options. You’ll find that you’ll get a 1-year license with various different motherboards and graphics cards, so it might be worthwhile to check this if you’re planning to upgrade to the latest AMD, Intel or NVIDIA products right about now.   *OBS Software, source: OBSProject.com Secondly, get a good webcam to show yourself while gaming. Though it might be really awkward at first, if you really want your shot at fame, its best to show you’re really having fun at the game. One of the most hilarious videos is this father having an amazing jump scare when his daughter walks in while he’s playing the horror game Outlast 2. And of course, as with everything, there’s a complete Reddit sub about live streaming fails. Third, having a decent microphone will do wonders for your interaction. While it might be hard to hear yourself over all your teammates yelling during a game, making yourself understandable to your viewers is vital. While most people are satisfied with the sound quality of their gaming headset or earbuds from their phone, any streamer worth his salt will have a “studio quality” condenser microphone for their recordings. Mind you, “studio quality” doesn’t mean you’re spending insane amounts of money, one of the most popular microphones for streamers and podcasters, the Neewer NW-700 costs less than $15 on Amazon! Fourth, having an extra screen would be great for your interaction. Most streamers will use an old or cheap monitor as a secondary display, so they can read their chat messages while streaming. If you don’t have a monitor, a tablet or your smartphone will do just as well, but streamers prefer a secondary screen so they can quickly look for information on the web, while still having their chat messages up on screen. Our fifth and penultimate suggestion, have a decent internet connection. Twitch recommends a 3.6 Mbps (Megabit) upload for 720p 30 fps content. So you already know that having a 4 Mbps upload and sharing that with family or friends will result in a lot of frustration. As through some universal kind of faith, your best streams will be spoiled by family uploading pet pictures to Facebook, or another PC connected to your network, deciding to upload a Microsoft patch while you’re actively trying to find out why your stream is lagging. Logically, we also suggest making sure you always use a wired connection, we’ve seen the weirdest problems occur including someone that found out that his neighbors using their microwave was crippling his wireless network!   *Twitch network issues, source: Github And finally, our sixth suggestion is where we would tell you to have a beefy PC. Normally, people talking about streaming would suggest you have a fast PC with good GPU and a fast Intel or AMD processor, but the beauty of the Pengo 4K HDMI Grabber is that it captures all your video on the way to the monitor and then sends it back through USB. This means no stress for your graphics card, and minimal processing power required from your CPU. With this in mind, you can even use an old laptop you have laying around to stream your games to YouTube, Facebook, or Twitch while you’re playing on your own PC or Console! You can grab the Pengo 4K HDMI grabber right now on Amazon for just $149.99. You can capture content up to 4K@60 Hz and stream it in FullHD to the platform of your choice. *2018/11/12