Human Things, makers of the Covert Switch Dock, now have another solution to one of the Switch’s main problems: connecting to a PC and capturing footage. The Genki ShadowCast was designed to address both of these issues, and while it’s marketed specifically for the Nintendo Switch, it works with other PlayStation and Microsoft consoles.
However, unlike the Covert Dock, the ShadowCast doesn’t deliver on all of its promises and embodies the word “budget”.
Genki ShadowCast Review: Best to stay in the shadows
The Genki ShadowCast works in several ways. One of the main benefits is that you can view your Switch screen on a monitor or laptop, since ShadowCast is currently the only way to do that. It’s a simple process with an included USB-C to USB-A adapter.
The cable is fairly short, so have a dedicated space for your ShadowCast setup if possible. With a desktop computer, this is less of a problem as you can simply place your dock or PS5 on the ground near your tower. However, things get a little more confusing when you’re using a laptop.
If you’re expecting the same upscaling you get when the Switch is docked and connected to a TV, then don’t do it. ShadowCast resolution is capped at 720p. While it offers a slight improvement for games running in handheld mode at lower resolutions – Xenoblade Chronicles 2 or age of catastrophe, for example – everything else looks the same. only bigger.
The Switch’s only HDMI port is on the dock, which makes the setup a bit more unwieldy than I would have liked, although this is a hardware issue of the Switch and not a ShadowCast issue. If anything, it’s just encouragement to use Genki’s Covert Dock instead. But don’t buy one just yet.
ShadowCast will work with other consoles as well, as long as they have an HDMI port (so basically anything modern), although there’s only one reason you would use ShadowCast for other consoles. It also acts as a budget tracking card that you can use with existing streaming software like OBS.
But you have to find out for yourself how this works. The user guide essentially just says “plug it in,” and the Genki Arcade app doesn’t come with any instructions (nor even let you install a shortcut). The app is also generally pretty barebones: a blank screen with a settings option that lets you switch between performance and resolution modes. That’s it.
Most other cards have options to customize audio and other features to suit your needs, and to troubleshoot issues that may arise during a stream or recording session. ShadowCast doesn’t offer such features, but it certainly needs them.
The audio is invariably poor, whether coming through headphones, plugged into speakers, or through a laptop’s built-in speakers. Sometimes background elements, including music, are cut off entirely, leaving only vocal tracks or sound effects.
I’ve heard others say that restarting the app solved the problem. However, it didn’t work for me on any of the consoles I tested (PlayStation 5, Switch, and Xbox Series S).
Shadowcast also suffers from performance and lag issues, regardless of the setting used. Capture cards almost always have display lag issues, but ShadowCast does have an input lag issue. While it was never enough to ruin what I was playing back then, it’s still noticeable and shouldn’t be there.
Camera movement is laggy and choppy in Resolution mode, especially when there’s a lot to render, although some choppyness remains even in Performance mode. I’ve noticed the worst issues with newer games, such as: RE village on PS5, although it was also present in older and less demanding games.
Speaking of modes, I’m not sure what the resolution mode is for. The only change you’re likely to notice is an increase in choppy motion as the graphics hardly change, although you might run into some glitches even just trying to switch modes. On a few occasions it stopped streaming the game feed and instead activated my built-in webcam.
Genki ShadowCast Review – The Verdict
- Allows you to stream Switch gameplay to your monitor or laptop
- Tinny, compressed audio that often drops out entirely
- Low resolution cap
- The resolution mode has no discernible point
- Barebones, buggy app
- lag issues
All of this and the limitation on visual fidelity make ShadowCast a huge missed opportunity considering the market it is aiming to reach. Human Things pitches it as an alternative to Elgato and says you too can be an influencer with the affordable Shadowcast.
Affordable shouldn’t mean immature, and users shouldn’t be punished with a product that barely does what it advertises. It’s surprising and disappointing after seeing how Human Things lived up to its promise with the Covert Dock, but maybe ShadowCast was just rushed too quickly.
[Note: Genki provided the ShadowCast unit used for this review.]