How to Capture Video from your Tablet

Update (3/21/2013): Don’t feel like watching the video? Want more information? Check out this updated post about screen capture for tablets!

Capturing a video of your tablet’s screen is a question that we often encounter. Right now, we’re still sort of in the “Wild Wild West” as far as capturing the screen of your tablet is concerned (the API of the popular mobile OS’s, which is how applications “talk” to the operating system, do not presently allow for screen video capture). However, there are some methods currently available that, while not exactly simple, do offer a good result in the end. The video below outlines one of these methods, and while it was made last summer, the information is still relevant.

UPDATE: More on tablet capture in this episode of our monthly web show, The Forge.

  • Petar Subotic

    If in a hurry and with scarce resources (no capture card, no HDMI output etc.) you can just install the android SDK and use a Swing GUI application like Droid@Screen (http://blog.ribomation.com/droid-at-screen/) to display the device screen on the computer and then use Camtasia to record it, worth noting that USB cable doesn’t really allow for adequate image transfer speed so expect delays on HD devices.

    Any news on progress of Cyclops projects would be nice :)

    • Kelly Rush

      Great idea Petar! As you said, this definitely will work in a pinch; however, at least in my experience, the speed of the Anroid SDK is horrendously slow (and I have an extremely fast computer), even with the 4.0 SDK optimized for x86. I’m not sure if I’d ever be willing to use this to represent my mobile product or demo in a video, but for still images it would work great (though less useful nowadays, since screenshot capture is built into Android now obviously).

      Thanks for the comment!

  • http://twitter.com/jrandersoniii jrandersoniii

    For iPads – AirPlay mirroring works best and save a small fortune in hardware. Paid and free apps available like Reflection.

    • Kelly Rush

      Yup, great comment! When I made this video, those apps actually didn’t exist yet, but they obviously are another great option now. We did a Forge episode where we talked about them briefly (though not as detailed as the above video).

      http://bit.ly/QKUhXj

      Thanks for sharing!

  • Jon

    Does AVerMedia capture card work with Mac Pro? If so, which model?

    • Kelly Rush

      Hi Jon,

      As far as I’m aware, it does not. Physically it could install (it’s just a PCI-Express card), and there is capture software for HDMI devices on the Mac, but the weak link is the drivers. Unfortunately, again as far as I’m aware, AVerMedia does not make drivers for the Mac platform for this device.

      Check out Blackmagic Intensity Pro though; we use those to do live productions in our video studio here at TechSmith. Basically the same thing (though a bit pricier).

      Thanks for the great question!

  • Kimberli Kisiel

    I love that you guys are making videos with step-by-step instructions for specific technical tasks such as capturing video from your tablet. However, I wonder what the use-case is for doing this? I would think that the problem could be solved more easily by just downloading an emulator onto your computer. There are innumerable free emulators out there which will essentially allow you to run the Android or iPad OS on your PC, which you could then record using the Camtasia recorder.
    For anyone else out there who might have glazed over after about the two-and-a-half minute mark, a quick Google search for Android emulator or iPad emulator should turn up plenty of results :)

    • Kelly Rush

      Hi Kimberli!

      Using an emulator/SDK is absolutely an option, however they generally run MUCH slower than the actual device, especially for things like games. When you capture over HDMI, the device will be running at its native speed, and there is essentially zero lag streaming over HDMI.

  • James

    Can you tell me what model of HP desktop you are using?

    • Kelly Rush

      Hi James, it’s an HP xw4600 Workstation.

  • Rath

    Hi Kelly,
    I have camtasia on my laptop ( windows 7). I am using an android tablet for presentations and need to capture it on camtasia.
    I have seen your video and it uses a desktop. Could you help me or tell me the way to get the android signal to the laptop screen so that I can capture it on camtasia?
    RG

    • Kelly Rush

      Hi Rath,

      Unfortunately, on the laptop platform your options are extremely limited; laptops don’t have a popular expansion port standard like the desktop, so you’re mostly limited to USB options. The only non-USB 3 solution I have heard someone having success with is the Elgato Game Capture device.

      http://www.amazon.com/Elgato-Capture-PlayStation-Recorder-10025010/dp/B00840353W

      Note that I’ve never tried this before, so I can’t verify whether it would work or not. Definitely do your homework, and make sure you purchase from a place that has a good return policy, in the event that it doesn’t work.

  • Screencaster

    Hi
    I have a question dose his method also work with the Samsung Galaxy s3?

  • Screencaster

    Hi
    I have a question does this method also work for the Samsung Galaxy S3?

  • Victor

    Boy, you’re just touching everything in that tower, aren’t you? Good thing the computer still worked.

  • Tom Werner

    Is this still the best method to capture iPad and other tablets? How about Microsoft Surface? My department is using live cameras for this but I’m looking for a simpler, more cost-effective approach. Thanks, Tom

  • Matt McCann

    Does this technique work with HDCP output?

    • Kelly Rush

      No, because the card blocks it. However, I have never seen HDCP be enabled for HDMI-out on an Android tablet.

  • http://twitter.com/stoneage Ryan Stoner

    I would also recommend using something like switchcam.com to allow you to capture video from multiple sources and easily synchronize them together.

  • nick

    Im trying to video my tablet screen and I just really want to make a video on it any answers?

    • Kelly Rush

      Hi Nick,

      For Android, this is still generally the best method, yes. For the iPad, there is an app called Reflector which can be used to show your tablet screen on your computer screen, wirelessly. You can then use Camtasia Studio to record that.

  • Bobby

    Hi Kelly,
    I am studying san, I have an android smart phone, Samsung galaxy note 2. I View Camtasia videos on my pc, I would like to know if its possible to view them on my Android phone? By the way I really enjoyed watching your video.
    Best wishes,
    Bobby