The act of recording and streaming games has become incredibly popular over the last decade, with every kid wanting to be the next Shroud or Pokimane. However, price has easily been the biggest roadblock in keeping many out of the streaming world, as even a modest capture card can run for hundreds of dollars. In comes the Ganki ShadowCast, a little device that will let you stream console games to a laptop and even record them, all for the price of $39.99 USD. However, with that incredibly low price comes a product that’s definitely on the lower-end quality-wise.
The Ganki ShadowCast is a tiny device, about the size of a flash drive. To set it up, users just need to install the Genki Arcade App from the company’s official website. Then, just plug a USB-C cable (there’s one included) into the ShadowCast and your laptop/computer. The device is also compatible with USB-C to USB-A cables, which I appreciated as an owner of a computer with zero USB-C ports. Finally, you plug the Shadowcast into the HDMI port of your console and you’re good to go. The gameplay will stream to the Genki Arcade App window on your computer until you remove it.
The setup process for the ShadowCast was super simple, far more so than some of the more premier capture cards on the market. Once you have it set up, you can practically just treat your laptop/computer as the new display for your Genki ShadowCast. The limited number of cords required also allows you to keep your area neat and tidy while using the device.
Playing keep up
With the ShadowCast, you can easily play Xbox, PlayStation, or Switch games using your computer/laptop screen as the display. However, it’s certainly not the best way to do so, particularly in the case of an Xbox or PlayStation. The resolution is much sharper when directly connected to a TV or monitor. That said, it’s a great option to have if you’re on the road or just away from your standard setup.
For the Switch, it’s cool to be able to play games like Pokemon or Mario Kart on my PC monitor, but the Switch looks a bit rough when streaming to the ShadowCast. It looked like I was playing in handheld mode, as the quality remained at 720p, as opposed to the 1080p resolution the console can reach when naturally docked and connected to a television. Again, it’s playable, but certainly not the primary way to do so.
There’s also some noticeable latency when playing through the ShadowCast, as it is just streaming your gameplay to a display. Because of that, it’s probably best to limit yourself to games in which a slight delay isn’t the end of the world. Trying to battle online in a game like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate can be a nightmare, while a much more laid-back game like Animal Crossing: New Horizons sees little compromise.
Trying to up your streaming game
One of the cool parts about the ShadowCast is that it doubles as a super cheap capture card. When streaming games to your computer, you can simply fullscreen the window and then record it. That said, there is no native way to record using the Genki Arcade App as there may be with other cards. Instead, you’ll have to use OBS, Nvidia ShadowPlay, or some other third-party recording software.
Speaking of the Genki Arcade App itself, I was surprised to see that the program has practically no features. There’s a settings button in the app, but there’s only two options inside of it: Set the device to favor performance or resolution, and a volume slider. That’s it. There are no other settings or features within the app, severely limiting what you can do with the ShadowCast.
Fair for the price
Despite several downsides to the ShadowCast, it’s hard to argue with that $39.99 price tag. The higher-end capture cards will cost hundreds of dollars, which is simply just not viable for a lot of budgets. The ShadowCast allows you to access most of those features - albeit at an inferior quality - for a reasonable price. For somebody that travels a lot, likes to play games in different areas of their home, or is just looking for an entry point into game streaming and capture, the ShadowCast is a viable device.
This review is based on a physical product provided by the manufacturer. The Genki ShadowCast is available now for $39.99 USD.
- Easy to setup
- Modest price
- Convenient for playing on the go
- Compromise in visual quality
- Input latency
- Lack of in-app features