Capturing DCL TV


Active member
In the interest of sharing, I figured I'd provide a little write up how I was able to capture from the stateroom TVs aboard DCL's newest cruise ships the Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy.

As has been mentioned, they transmit stateroom TV a little different than the Legacy ships, and the Magic may have been converted during it's recent dry dock, but I'm not sure.  Stateroom TVs on the Dream and Fantasy are controlled by a IPTV based system that feeds a video signal to the TV via HDMI cable as has a small IR receiver attached to the front of the TV that changes channels on the device (not the TV).  I believe there are about 29 channels in the staterooms, about 1/2 are for the ship (Bridge View, Onboard info, etc) and the other 1/2 are satellite TV (ABC, etc).

The problem I was having is finding an HDMI capture device that wasn't a full size desktop capture card.  There are a few on the market, however price seems to be fairly high.

I took a chance and picked up an Elgato Game Center HD.  It's USB 2.0 based and provides HDMI pass through so you can keep your existing stateroom TV hooked up if you so choose.  It's small enough to fit right behind the TV and also doesn't require an external power source (bonus on a ship where I think you get two power outlets in a standard room).  I picked the Elgato up for about $130 when it hit one of the deal sites.

Currently, the signal is marked copy freely, however I assume it will be trivial for them to enable HDCP on the signal to thwart capturing video if they wanted to.    I came prepared with the following HDMI splitter from Amazon: ViewHD 2 Port 1x2 Powered HDMI Mini Splitter for 1080P & 3D.  Tested at home, this allowed me to capture HDMI output from a PS3 as well as a Fire TV (both had HDCP enabled without the splitter in place).

The only problem is the splitter is powered, so take that into account when packing if you decide to sail.

Overall I'm happy with the setup.  I would have preferred something I didn't need to lug a laptop around with, but I usually bring the laptop anyway.  Haven't tried it with a Windows Tablet, a surface might be able to keep up, would be interesting to try.  File sizes are pretty large, I came home with about 160G worth of captures, so bring along something capable of storing large amounts of data.  The Elgato outputs .TS files as well as .MP4 files (and I saved both) so it adds up fast.
+1 From me - Been using the Elgato for my HDMI captures for a year - Great capture device.

I'd like more tests on the splitter - Ive captured directly from a Blu-Ray on my PS3 with the Elgato and no splitter - So I assume the HDCP isn't on everything.

I captured with my Samsung Ativ 700t Windows 8 Tablet (i5) and my Surface 3 now (i5) - but I also captured with the Dell Venue 8 as well (Quad Core Atom) and they all kept up - of course, they all have Solid State drives.  Overall, I'll be using my Surface 3 for all the captures going forward, since its my one device that actually did replace all others...