Gadget Corner: HDMI to USB Capture Devices

Russ USAModerator, Kalturian Posts: 90 mod

Hi gang! I thought I'd start some threads on a topic near and dear to my heart, cheap gear! These are all things that work with Kaltura, or at least are Kaltura-adjacent in some way. I have a great love for finding no-name gear and gadgets online and testing them to see if they work as well as advertised. In most cases I order from Amazon because of easy returns for Prime items (if it doesn't work) so no harm done other than time spent experimenting.

And when I say they "work with Kaltura" I am speaking from my own personal experience, I'm either using them right now or I have in the past (depending on the item.) So I am not representing Kaltura or any specific device (because the branding frequently changes, and the internals may change as well) but I can tell you about my first-hand experiences using them. Also, any links are purely for informational purposes - no affiliate links (from me or anyone else) but generally I get these items from Amazon. (With occasional forays into B&H, Adorama, etc.)

First up - USB video capture. I've used a LOT of gear over the years to get HDMI or SDI video signals into computers. There are a lot of great devices from major brands that are heavy duty and meant to run 24/7 in professional settings. They can be hundreds and even thousands of dollars, and they're devices I'd trust to put in classrooms, auditoriums, etc. These are not those devices. These are a few items I wanted to keep on my desk and place around my home office (connected to budget-action cameras, a story for another post) so I'd easily be able to use a variety of sources for Kaltura Capture, Virtual Classroom, Express Capture, Kaltura Classroom, etc. They don't run 24/7, but I do use them regularly and they serve me well. I have 3 total, the first are two of these:

I have had these about a year, plugged into a USB3 hub that's plugged into my laptop. They take HDMI in and spit out a UVC compliant video signal. They are recognized as a webcam in anything that's looking for a webcam as a source. When I got them they were $11. They're still pretty inexpensive, you can look around and find a matching device under many different brand names for different prices, but (I believe) the internals are the same. These have been solid workhorses for me for close to a year, and allow me to show off different USB sources without conflicting with one another, such as in this Kaltura Classroom 4-input example. This is 1 Logitech webcam and 2 HDMI action cams plugged into the 2 dongles on input 1 and 4:

A few months into this I realized it would be useful to have another one for an additional input, but this time I sought out something with an HDMI loop through so I could add a confidence monitor, if needed. (And also to get one that was USB3, the others are USB2.) Unfortunately the exact model I got is no longer available on Amazon and I can't find one that matches exactly. Here is what mine looks like (you can see the other two dongles in the pic also, at the top - apologies for the dust.)

This also works amazingly well and adds an HDMI passthrough. I can run all 3 of these inputs and my webcam as a 4th input with no issue on my Windows laptop. I've used them with Kaltura Capture, Express Capture, Kaltura Classroom, Virtual Classroom, as well as other software like OBS to live stream RTMP to Kaltura. Just like with the other two, this presents to the computer the same as any webcam, and will be recognized in any platform looking for a USB device.

I've been using this for several months, also with no issues, simultaneously with the other two. Having a capture with an HDMI loop out to a monitor has been useful for an ad-hoc confidence monitor as well as reducing input lag for streaming devices where you might be concerned with input lag. :D This specific device doesn't seem to be currently available, but it was in the $35ish range from Amazon. This seems fairly close, but is not identical:

But if I was looking to get something else to experiment with right now, I'd give that one a try. Happy to continue the discussion, questions, comments, or hear your own experiences!