Long ago, when capturing video of the game you were playing was something only pros and highly motivated gamers (the term had not its current currency and was, at the time, pejorative or at least belittling) attempted to do, and with as little glory as attended such vocations and avocations at the time, there was special hardware just for doing so. And really, there has always been ever since — but with live-game streaming becoming a disturbingly large business sector, the time has come for this niche hardware to enter the limelight it never enjoyed.
Razer’s Ripsaw is far from the first, but it leapfrogs the competition nicely and takes aim at a growing population of streamers who are willing to pay good money for an easily set up solution with industrial-strength capabilities.
Capture cards sit in the middle of your audio and video streams, capturing the media in real time and broadcasting it via services like Twitch and YouTube before passing it on to your screen and speakers. There are internal and external solutions, and Ripsaw is the latter. That allows it to be connected easily to not just a streaming PC, but to any current-generation game console (and a few of the older ones, as well). This plug and play compatibility alone sets it apart from some of the competition, and the ability to capture in 1080p at 60 frames per second sets it apart from the rest.
Razer offers its own microphones and other accessories, as well, of course, but unless you really want to keep a consistent green and black color scheme, the standard A/V ports will accommodate whichever peripherals strike your fancy.
You’ll still need a beefy PC to push the pixels and polygons through at the proper pressures, and USB 3.0 is mandatory. The $180 price tag puts Ripsaw somewhat above the popular options out there, but for now the 1080p/60 streaming alone might make it worth the price.
Expect a lot more activity in this category over the next year — there’s blood in the water, and the arrival of Razer may be the tail nip that signals the beginning of a feeding frenzy.
Update: As Kotaku has discovered, the Ripsaw is in fact a rebranded AverMedia Live Gamer Extreme, a model that came out last year but which I missed when comparing to other capture boxes. The price and features are the same, so buy whichever you like.