Saturday, June 12th, 2021

Hardware review: Genki Shadowcast-looking for solutions to problems


© Vitality

Behind the great success of crowdfunding activities, Vitality Shadow Projection Fully entitled to be regarded as a must-have accessory for Nintendo Switch users. In fact, its status as one of the smallest capture cards in the world makes it very eye-catching, and it has some other cool tricks that may not be so obvious at first glance.However, although this tiny device is capable of achieving impressive technical feats, it is difficult to get rid of the feeling that it is a solution to problems that has never been Really Existed from the beginning.

However, before we start, it is necessary to explain what Shadowcast is. It is a dongle that can be plugged into the HDMI port (or any HDMI port, actually) of your Switch docking station, and allows you to display the generated image on the screen of your PC or laptop. You can also capture game screens and screenshots at the same time, making it one of the smallest (and cheapest) capture cards currently available.

The Shadowcast has an HDMI connector on one end and a USB-C on the other end.Using the bundled USB-C to USB-C cable (the quality is impeccable, we must say), you connect the Shadowcast to your computer (if you don’t have any USB-C ports on your machine, don’t worry, because if you Choose USB-C to USB-A adapter $50 bundle).

Check the details of Link’s handguards and hair; you can clearly see that Shadowcast does not perform well in displaying the full color gamut
Check the details of Link’s handguards and hair; you can clearly see that Shadowcast does not perform well in displaying the full color gamut (Photo: Nintendo Life)

One of the most impressive aspects of Shadowcast is that it does not require any drivers or software downloads-you really just “plug and play” this thing.Since your computer treats the device as a webcam, you can use things like OBS Run it-but Genki recommends that you download its “Genki Arcade” application (for Windows, Mac, and Linux) because it says it provides a low-latency connection and requires less CPU bandwidth. Genki Arcade displays video images in a zoomable window and allows you to switch between “Performance” and “Resolution” modes (more on this later) and record footage or capture screenshots.

Genki’s point is that Shadowcast allows you to play games without a TV at hand. You can use a PC monitor or the screen of a laptop computer as a display—for example, this means you can run the Switch in docked mode at your desk.Because it will accept any HDMI signal, you don’t need to stop here-your computer can play your host PS5, SNES Classic or Sega Astro City Mini, if you prefer.

The benefit may not be immediately Obviously (especially the Switch, which has its own built-in screen), but this basically means that if you carry a laptop with you, your game console basically has a portable display-which may prove to be very Important is useful for people who cannot use large TVs without restrictions (for example, college students who run away from home or young members of the family).If you are running a Mac, you can even use the “Sidecar” function to Stream pictures to your iPad The wireless experience dwarfs the built-in screen of the Switch.

Look at the red on Mario's clothes; when running Shadowcast, it looks more exaggerated and harsh
Look at the red on Mario’s clothes; when running Shadowcast, it looks more exaggerated and harsh (Photo: Nintendo Life)

However, while all this sounds great on paper, there are some caveats that need to be mentioned. As we mentioned before, Shadowcast provides two modes. “Performance” focuses on providing the best experience with the lowest latency (approximately 6 frames/100 milliseconds, based on our accepted rough calculations), which means it runs smoothly, but looks slightly messy and compressed.The delay will not make the game unplayable, but for games like this Super Smash Bros Ultimate Edition, This may be a problem. 60fps is the target frame rate in this mode, but we did notice some drops during the game.On the other hand, the “resolution” mode provides sharper results (but still no complete Uncompressed) 1080p image, but the frame rate is reduced to 30fps, the delay is more obvious. Needless to say, this is the mode you want to use when shooting footage.

Although “performance” is perfect for most people, it does raise a question-if you have to deal with low-quality signals, why not use the Switch in portable form? Unless you can tolerate the high latency seen in “Resolution” mode, you will not get the same experience you would get when you run the docking switch on a suitable TV or portable 1080p monitor (obviously, these are project needs A lot of money and may not always be easy to obtain, it should be noted).

Another problem is related to the image quality that Shadowcast provides you. Compared with Switch’s lossless capture, the color gamut is clearly limited, and tones are mixed in a way that compromises details. The red also seems very harsh and saturated. All these issues will naturally affect the capture quality of the device, so don’t expect Shadowcast to perform better than other popular capture cards on the market. Of course, if you want to share cool moments in the game on social media or on your personal YouTube channel, that’s great, but compared to today’s video game capture expectations, Shadowcast falls short-but then again, it’s The biggest selling points are small size, low software requirements, and low prices. There is a balancing act, and whether you can tolerate these shortcomings will depend on personal preference.

The character selection menu in Smash Bros. shows the severity of compression when using Shadowcast
The character selection menu in Smash Bros. shows the severity of compression when using Shadowcast (Photo: Nintendo Life)

However, Yuanji also made it clear that Shadowcast has other uses.For example, you can use it to connect your DSLR to your computer and use it as an ultra-clear webcam-this will prove to be incredible Useful for some people, even if it has nothing to do with video games. We have a very bad webcam in the Nintendo Life office, and we will replace it with Shadowcast (and Panasonic Lumix GH5) from now on.

But we are diverging from the subject. Considering its price and compact size, Shadowcast is undoubtedly a neat kit, starting and running is definitely a breeze-but the truth is that it lags behind other markets in terms of capture, and for games, it always It feels like a compromise compared to running things on a proper dedicated monitor.If you can only use the PC or laptop in the room, then this may It’s an acceptable solution-50 dollars, you can argue that you have nothing to lose. It’s hard to overcome this impression. Although Shadowcast is a clever toolkit, it tries to catch the itch that doesn’t exist at all.

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