If you’ve ever wanted to record what is displayed on your computer monitor, perhaps for demonstration purposes or to create a stand alone presentation, then what you’re looking for is a full screen recorder, such as FRAPS.
Obviously, there are other programs which can do this, but Fraps has been around for a while, and has gained a good reputation, particularly amongst gamers, and especially those who like to record their gaming exploits to share with their friends, or upload to a video hosting site such as YouTube. Basically, it does exactly what it says it does – when invoked it records, in a popular movie format (AVI), everything which happens on the monitor for playback later, and, importantly, it uses relatively little resources in doing so.
The program, which requires DirectX 9c or 10, is only 2.2mb and, following installation, presents a simple interface, where you can change the default settings if you so wish. By default, the program will start full screen recording with optional sound (the frame rate and size of which you can change according to your preference), by pressing F9 (which is also customizable should it clash with an already defined keypress in a game for example), and F10 will save a full screenshot. Both videos and screenshots are saved to a user-definable directory, which by default is the FRAPS directory in My Documents. You can also choose to have the program auto start with Windows so you don’t have to remember to start it when you want to play a game.
The name Fraps, however, alludes to another feature of the program, Frames Per Second (FPS), which, as any gamer knows, is critical when it comes to some of the more resource hungry games which abound today, and how they compare the power of their machine against that of others. FRAPS offers gamers the chance to monitor the FPS whilst playing, so that, if necessary, changes can be made to the graphics’ details etc, to maintain a playable FPS whilst still retaining reasonable graphics, by displaying the current FPS in a (user-definable) corner of the screen. The program will always, unless you have opted for it not to, display the FPS, even when watching a movie or similar full screen application, but you can easily hide this by a simple keypress.
When the program is invoked, that is you start it recording, the FPS indicator changes colour and displays the recording frame rate, which, although is user defined, may fluctuate according to available resources etc. Apart from the colour indication, you probably wouldn’t notice much difference in gameplay, as the program has relatively little impact. Playing back the recording in a media player is simple enough, and lets you relive all those exciting moments you might have missed while you were too engrossed dispatching zombies/aliens etc.
The free version, unfortunately, has some limitations, such as watermarked recordings limited to 30 seconds duration and screenshots saved in bitmap format, but it does show you what you could do if you got the registered version.
Apart from that, there are few, if any bad points; I couldn’t find an option to record a user defined region of the screen, or the output of a specific window, which would be helpful, as it’s not always a full screen application that needs to be recorded, but that’s something that could be added in the future maybe.