Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Genki Shadowcast Review

 By: Patrick Morris

Getting burned funding a kickstarter one time was enough for me to pledge to never fund one again. But when Genki announced their new Shadowcast the only thing that kept me true to my word was the fact that what they were promising sounded too good to be true. The potential of an HDMI to USB-C converter that allows the user to use any capable computer as a display for virtually any HDMI device with no noticeable latency and functions as a capture card for use as a creative tool or simply a means of fitting into a smaller than usual space left me feeling like someone was trying to sell me a bridge. But after it was successfully funded and became a real product instead of just an idea in someones head I was willing to spend the $45 to pick one up. After hours of testing across three different hardware configurations I am happy to say that the Genki Shadowcast is in no way snake oil as it delivers on all the kickstarter promises that I was so skeptical of just a few short months ago.


The focus of the marketing and the general feeling of using the device both left me with the sense that the Shadowcast is really primarily a means of using a computer display as a way of playing consoles on the go. Genki has definitely delivered on the promise of no added latency making the Shadowcast a smart purchase for several different groups of people that may have demand for such a device. That combined with the added capability of using the Shadowcast as a basic capture card for game capture on the go or adding a DSLR to a larger at home streaming setup makes for a feature set the likes of which can easily compete with the capabilities of several of Elgato's devices all rolled into one. The Shadowcast also features seamless Streamlabs OBS and OBS integration to allow players with a pre-existing preference for one streaming client over another to roll the device into their existing workflow with relative ease. The feature set delivered by the Shadowcast would be impressive in a single device four times the price, but at the price Genki is offering it is downright stunning.


But who is the Shadowcast really intended to be used by? The demographic that immediately comes to mind is obviously those who travel a lot for work. The reliability of having an entirely self contained console gaming setup on the go without having to rely on anyone else's hardware is definitely tempting for many of those travelers. It's ironic that in almost all of Genki's marketing the Shadowcast is presented as a means of playing Nintendo Switch while traveling as the Switch is really the only console that doesn’t become infinitely more portable with the introduction of the Shadowcast. 


On their website Genki lists the recommended technical specifications for compatibility with Shadowcast as a discrete GPU of an Nvidia GT630 at minimum. In my testing I used the Shadowcast with intel integrated graphics, a discrete AMD Radeon VII GPU, and an M1 macbook pro. Throughout all my testing across three different hardware configurations I never experienced any perceivable degradation in quality or introduction of increased latency. The Shadowcast performed flawlessly on all three hardware configurations allowing for a more than playable experience. 


Those who will benefit from the use of a Shadowcast are not people that have a comfortable living room or desk gaming setup. The people that stand to benefit the most are without a doubt people who travel a lot for work, college kids, and parents who don’t wanna be bothered to buy their kid their own TV. Obviously people who do a lot of traveling will be able to benefit from the use of the Shadowcast because it will allow them to bring along a console of their choice, I cant help but think that the Xbox Series S would be absolutely perfect for this, and just setup for a few hours of gaming when getting back to the hotel at night. College kids, particularly those living in the dorms, will be able to bring their console gaming setup into the dorms with relative ease. And parents will finally have the option to buy a Shadowcast and tell their kids to play the consoles on their laptops instead of using the TV all the time. 


The overall user experience of the Shadowcast is stupid easy. After downloading one simple app directly from the mac app store if you're using a mac, the device is literally plug and play. Just plug everything in and start enjoying your console experience on your laptop. The Genki Arcade software designed to run in tandem with the Shadowcast offers some customization but doesn’t get as in depth as other game capture software's ive used. Genki Arcade allows the user to elect whether they would prefer to prioritize performance or resolution and while there is a noticable difference in both a lower resolution doesn’t directly impact my ability to literally play the game whereas increased input latency does. So after playing around with both for a few minutes I opted for prioritizing performance. The app also has fairly persistent buttons for recording gameplay and mic audio making the Shadowcast a great entry level capture card for any aspiring content creators by providing simple high quality gameplay clips.


Overall the feature set that the Shadowcast provides all for $45 makes it difficult not to recommend. If you or anyone you know fall into any one of the demographics I described earlier or could see yourself using it even just a few times for any of the many functions it offers I definitely recommend it. Whether youre traveling and just looking for a quiet way to unwind at your in laws or youre a 12 year old looking to start your first youtube channel the Shadowcast will deliver in a big way.

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