Rather unceremoniously, I was sent the Genki Shadowcast in the mail, despite not being the best person to review it or even, at a glance, understand what it is. Nonetheless, I decided to be courteous, study up on it, and take it for a quick spin. The Genki Shadowcast is a gizmo that allows HDMI from seemingly almost any applicable device, like Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, or SNES Classic, to be displayed on a laptop. You can then play on your laptop via the Genki Arcade desktop app or pair it with other software like Zoom or OBS for streaming or video editing. And it works well, provided you understand how to use it.
The Shadowcast uses USB-C and plugs into a console via HDMI port. You then use a USB-C cable to connect the device to your laptop via typical USB or USB-C. The cable that Genki bundles with the unit for an additional $5 is six feet long, which actually is quite short and inconvenient if your space isn’t already designed with this setup in mind. (I had to put my laptop in a cramped space on the floor.)
After that, it only takes a few seconds to download the Genki Arcade app onto your laptop, which displays the console output in a regular windowed screen. The Genki Arcade app has dueling options of “Favor resolution” and “Favor performance,” plus a volume slider, and that’s it. “Favor resolution” means output of 1080p with 30 FPS, and it works just fine as promised. “Favor performance” outputs 720p at 60 FPS, but in this day and age, it looks terribly grainy to the extent of being pointless. Output at 1080p is the only practical choice when using the Genki Shadowcast.
Genki Arcade is extremely straightforward, which is good, but I did run into a bizarre bug where changing the “resolution/performance” option upon startup would not change that and would instead start displaying my laptop camera’s output instead, even though my camera had not otherwise been on at the time. Playing a little bit of a game and then trying to change the option would arbitrarily make the app function properly.
If you would rather use Genki Shadowcast for streaming or video though, that’s absolutely an option. I got it to stream to Zoom as one of the automatically displayed default video options, though I had to tweak some options to get it to display properly. The same is largely true of OBS, except the truth is I don’t use OBS for anything and didn’t really know what I was doing. (Like I said — I was not the best person to arbitrarily be mailed this gizmo.)
While I only tested it with Zoom and OBS, the Genki Shadowcast manual states it is also compatible with QuickTime, Wirecast, X-Split, Discord, Twitch, YouTube, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Skype, and “much more.” And because it retails for only $44.99 ($49.99 with the cable), it’s a highly economical option for streaming video games in general. I tested Shin Megami Tensei III HD Nocturne Remaster and Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics on Nintendo Switch and Astro’s Playroom on PlayStation 5, and they all ran fine at 1080p / 30 FPS.
Personally, I’m not a streamer and I use (much pricier) Elgato hardware for capturing game footage for review, so I don’t have a reason to use the Genki Shadowcast; I might just give it away. But for people who do want to stream or capture gameplay (or to just have an option other than a TV to display games), Shadowcast is a refreshingly cheap and straightforward solution. If you’re not technically inclined though, which was the case for me, you may want to use YouTube to help you set up how it syncs with other programs.
A Genki Shadowcast review unit was provided by the manufacturer.