Video capturing has turned into an essential part of our daily routine, especially if you record meetings or upload detailed tutorials on YouTube. With that said, with Chromebooks seemingly increasing in popularity, this begs the question; do capture cards work with Chromebooks?
Yes, you can use a UVC device (USB video device) to capture your screen on your Chromebook. However, since ChromeOS does not natively support video capture, you will encounter some bottlenecks, such as poor quality recordings and a slower frame rate.
With that in mind, we’ll go over exactly how you can use a video capture card to record your Chromebook’s screen, alongside all the limitations you will inevitably run into when doing so.
Before we jump into video capture, you’ll need to ensure that your device is UVC-compliant. You can do so by looking at the packaging of the device / its manuals. If the device is then connected to an OS that supports UVC (ChromeOS in this case,) that device will automatically be detected and will now be able to operate as a camera for your device.
For a general recommendation, we’d urge you to go for the Elgato Cam Link 4K. From our testing, the device has shown to be the least cumbersome when it comes to setting up. And it also works for Android devices, Linux, and Windows-based machines.
Disclaimer: Third-party screen recording applications do exist on the Chrome Web Store. However, they don’t offer great video quality and often crash in-between sessions.
Now that you have your UVC device, here are the steps you need to follow to get through the initial steps of using your capture card with your Chromebook:
- Plug your UVC device into your Chromebook’s USB port.
- After doing so, take the video out of your Chromebook and plug it into your capture card.
To confirm whether your device has been connected, head to your Chromebook’s Display Settings. If all goes well, you should now see Mirrored under the Arrangement tab of your Chromebook.
Configuring Your Capture Device
Once you have your device all connected, you can configure the resolution and frame rate of the video you wish to capture. Currently, you cannot go above the resolution or frame rate of your Chromebook. And, ChromeOS doesn’t seem to support 4K capturing, either.
To configure your resolution and frame rate, untick Mirror Built-in display, and you should be able to configure everything to your needs. Here are common combinations that you can use according to your needs:
|Recording Games||1080p @ 60Hz|
|Recording A Meeting||1080p @ 30Hz|
|Short Clip||720p @ 60Hz|
|Drafting||720p @ 30Hz|
Your final storage size will greatly vary depending on the format you choose.
Starting Video Capture
We can use the ChromeOS Camera application in order to finally capture video from our device. In order to do so, open the Camera application and click on Switch Camera. After doing so, change your mode to Video and hit the Record button.
When you wish to record a video, make sure that the application is not minimized. Instead, bring any application that you wish to capture in front of the application. This is one of the limitations that you’ll have to endure when using a capture card with a Chromebook.
Limitations With Video Capture
Now that we’ve gone through actual video capturing, let’s discuss some of the limitations and drawbacks of using a capture cards with a Chromebook.
- Lack Of Customization: The ChromeOS Camera application is fairly limited. In most cases, depending on what device you use – you’ll only be able to change your resolution. So, if you wish to quickly change your frame rate or switch input devices, that simply won’t happen.
- Application Support: We’ve tried two different ways to get more out of our video recording experience on ChromeOS. They were:
- OBS: OBS did not operate properly on ChromeOS. This is because the version of Linux that works with ChromeOS does not support UVC cards. So, our capture device wasn’t even detected.
- Android Recording Applications: Third-party camera applications from Android did seem to work some of the time. However, they’d often crash, and the video quality suffered a great deal.
- Capture Frame Rates: There are a lot of inconsistencies when it comes to frame rates when capturing using a Chromebook. For instance, a recording that was supposed to be at 60 FPS varied between 50-58 FPS. Whereas one that was supposed to be locked at 30 FPS was at about 29.4 FPS. So, depending on your use case, this inconsistency can be troubling.
- Stability Issues: When switching resolutions and frame rates, you may run into the Camera application crashing once in a while. This is then remedied by relaunching the application or might even require an entire system reboot at times.
How Is The Video Recording Experience Using A Capture Card On Chromebooks?
If you don’t mind the lack of customization and the fact that you can’t use OBS or any other third-party camera application – the quality that came out of the Chromebook by using a high-end capture card like a Cam Link is great.
You’ll be able to record gameplay, and the OS itself, with no stutters or lag whatsoever. Moreover, since the capture card is an external device, even a low-specced Chromebook will be able to provide great results since there’s no load placed on the system itself when it comes to capturing video.
A video capture card does work with a Chromebook. However, it is not the best experience. But, if you really want to record and capture footage from your device, it can be done with some caveats taken into accord.
Hopefully, ChromeOS implements better UVC support into its firmware. Or, at least allows its Linux distribution to be able to use UVC devices so we can resort to opening up OBS just like on a Windows or macOS device instead.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Use A Chromebook With A Capture Card?
Yes, you can use a capture card with your Chromebook. However, you’ll need to ensure that your capture card is a UVC to be able to use it.
Can A Chromebook Run OBS?
Yes, a Chromebook can run OBS. But, it won’t be able to identify your capture card since the Linux distro used with ChromeOS does not support capture cards.