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How to record your TV with laptop and HDMI cable

I am sorry to say, but the title is a little misleading. All the video ports on your laptop are video out and all the video ports on your TV are video in. Meaning that there is not direct way of connecting your laptop to the TV where the TV send video to the laptop. It only works the other way. Fear not, there are methods of capturing whatever your TV sees.

  • Method #1 - External HDMI capture
  • Method #2 - Internal HDMI capture
  • Method #3 - External component capture
  • Method #4 - External composite or s-video capture

Method #1 - External HDMI capture
This method works great if you are sending video to your TV via HDMI cable, like Xbox, Playstation, Blu-Ray Player or any other HDMI connected device. There are several external devices that you can connect between your video player and TV which will "capture" your audio and video and send it your computer via USB cable, where you can record it via the use of included software. By far one of the best rated and relatively inexpensive external high definition devices is Elgato - Game Capture HD. Yes, there are cheaper devices out there, but look at their reviews.
Don't forget that this method needs two HDMI cables. One to run from video device to extractor and another one to run from extractor to TV. Unless you have an extra HDMI cable in the house, you will need to get another one. A short 3 foot cable should probably do the trick.

Method #2 - Internal HDMI capture
If you do not want to have an external capture device and you have a desktop computer, you can get an internal video capture device. Similar to external video capture device you will need to connect your computer between your video player and TV. From there you install the included software and begin recording. One of the highest rated devices currently on the market is AVerMedia Game Recorder C985 and it offers a lot of features. You can even record your game play directly from computer and stream it in real time.
Don't forget that this method needs two HDMI cables. One to run from video device to extractor and another one to run from extractor to TV. Unless you have an extra HDMI cable in the house, you will need to get another one. Make sure that you get a correct length HDMI cable based on how far away is the TV from computer.

Method #3 - External component capture
If you have a video device that is connect to your TV through component connection (red, green, blue video cables with white and red audio cable) your options are a little more limited. You can get AVerMedia Game Recorder C285 which will allow you to capture component video and audio to your computer. However, this device outputs video in HDMI format only. If you have to connect your TV with component cables you will need to get HDMI to component converter like E-More® HDMI to 1080P Component Video.
Don't forget that you will need additional HDMI cable if you use this capture device. If you are planning on using the HDMI to component converter you will also need another set of component cables.

Method #4 - External composite or s-video capture
So you have a composite video (yellow video cable with white and red audio cables) device or s-video device. Well, now the things get a little interesting. There seems to be a disconnect between good price and good quality. You can either get a good capture device for relatively a lot of money like Elgato Video Capture or you can get cheaper device like Diamond VC500. Both of these will connect to your computer via USB.
None of these devices have a video/audio out ports, so you will have to get a splitters for your composite (3x splitters) or s-video cable (1x splitter); where one end will continue to your TV and other end will continue to the capture device. I would strongly recommend that you keep the composite or s-video cables as short as possible, as there is a theoretical maximum length that they can send signal without quality degradation. It is different for each device, but I would keep them 6 feet or less if possible.
Keep in mind that you will need additional composite cables or s-video cables if you are using this method.


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