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Trying to find a way to take component video and audio output from a device, and preview it on-screen in a window. We don't need recording or encoding capabilities, but we would like as low latency as possible. This would allow us to hook up things like a TiVo or game console and play it in a window of our PC without having to dedicate an entire monitor.

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I would highly recommend the Elgato line of capture hardware as they are reasonably priced, well supported, come with the software you need and have been in the business for quite some time.

Even for some prosumer applications, Elgato hardware is good enough for the job as some input sources are not going to be improved by spending $2000 on hardware that can do impressive amounts of A/D conversion and fancy time sync olympics.

You could go cheaper on the hardware (especially if you only need composite instead of component input), but my experience is if you know exactly what you're doing - you already can judge what cheap thing you can press into service and what is a waste of your time. I'd buy from a retailer that has a nice return policy or can make sure you buy the appropriate package.

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  • Unfortunately, Elgato doesn't have a product that fits this need. I've spoken extensively to their tech support and their cards do not show up as DirectShow capture devices so they can't be used. You can only use them with their software, which is one limit, but since they are doing the encoding on device, there's also a huge latency performance hit. It's a shame too. They really do have nice stuff, but unfortunately, they don't have what we need. Apr 4, 2014 at 21:01
  • Bummer - feel free always add a section to any stack exchange question that documents what you've tried so far to solve the issue and why it doesn't work. What is this DirectShow capture device?
    – bmike
    Apr 4, 2014 at 21:31
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Though this speaks more to a digital signal (more on that in a second):

Some laptops have HDMI Input in addition to HDMI output (the Alienware M17X is one). This would allow low-latency video to be seen in a window on the laptop screen.

  • Macbooks do not support this.
  • Mac towers can install HDMI capture cards, with caveats that I'm sure you've already researched. The BlackMagic Intensity line seems to be a front runner for low-latency, but it's not a product I've tested.

In all cases where you want to connect a component (or any analog) video source to a computer, you will introduce latency because it always has to be encoded.

Edit: Since the Intensity line now supports thunderbolt, a thunderbolt-equipped macbook may allow for low-latency display.

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