Review: Elgato Stream Deck

While the capture card industry has a handful of competitors, Elgato stands on top by offering the most accessible and easy to use products available for every day consumers. The manufacturer has created hardware that’s constantly being innovated upon and used by YouTubers and gaming publications from all around the world. In order to keep up with the vast world of gaming, not only have we seen Elgato release a device primarily aimed towards streaming to Twitch last year (Elgato HD60 S), but the company has developed something to compliment it. The Elgato Stream Deck is a luxury item for any streamer, but its functionality makes things far more streamlined and enjoyable. Having spent a good deal of time with the device, we can say for certain that this is something to look out for.

The Elgato Stream Deck is an incredibly fancy device, coming with fifteen fully customizable LCD buttons. Each one can be equipped with different actions based on the various programs Elgato supports. This includes their own Game Capture application, Twitch, OBS, Twitter, and even TipeeeStream. The latter two have limited functionality, mainly changing up scene elements and tweeting automated messages, but the former three have a great deal of options at your disposal. For OBS, you can change the scenes, adjust the audio mixer, and swap between sources. Twitch you can post automated chat messages through the general and subscriber chats, have an updated view of viewership, and if things get too chaotic, you can slow the chat down. Finally, Game Capture has the most functionality, with swapping between scenes, starting/stopping recording or streaming, taking screenshots, enabling flashback recording, and enabling/muting live commentary.

Even when you’re not recording or streaming, the Stream Deck is an incredibly useful tool. You’re also able to assign hotkeys, multimedia commands along with opening up specific websites and programs. This is what opens up the possibilities of the Elgato Stream Deck. While this is an incredibly useful tool whilst streaming, the device itself can be used for daily interactions. For example, we assigned hotkeys such Ctrl+W to a button in order to close tabs in internet browsers or Photoshop, and Alt+PRINTSCRN in order to take an image of our screen. We were even able to assign our favorite playlists stored deep in our sub-folders to one of the LCD buttons, ensuring we didn’t have to dig through our hard drive to find it. These are just some examples of the commands we would normally use on a daily basis that are simplified on this incredibly useful deck. This would even do well for games, such as MMOs, even though there isn’t a way to record macros just yet.

As for the application itself, it’s very easy to use. This is a simple one-paged program that adapts to what’s being shown on the deck itself. On the left is what is being shown on the screen at the current time, and on the right are the numerous actions you’re allowed to assign through the various programs. Some of the actions will require you to have a specific application open to pull data from, but otherwise everything is straightforward in how you create your own deck. You’re able to fully customize what’s shown on the fifteen LCD buttons, be it through imported images or multi-aligned text. Elgato has even made a Key Creator that uses a number of preexisting images with slight modifications, although it’s something to be added upon, as most of the icons are slight modifications of one another. Even though more media capable individuals will most likely take to Photoshop, it’s a generous template, especially with the ability to import your own images into.

Closing Comments:

If your streaming setup is becoming more complex than just commentating over direct gameplay, the Elgato Stream Deck is a necessary device. It may be a bit of a luxury item at $149.99, but its functionality helps streamline the process of many commands that normally would require a bit of fumbling around. It also helps that the application is easy to use, allowing anyone to compile upwards of 210 unique actions without much hassle. The best part of the Stream Deck, though, is that it can be used outside of streaming itself, being able to open up programs and websites with a simple button press. Sure, you can create bookmarks and shortcuts to your desktop, but something about having them assigned to a little device sitting next to your mouse is even more compelling. We would like to see the ability to write your own code and macros, not to mention having the ability to forgo typing a lengthy password would be handy (although it’s always a security concern), but considering this was designed primarily for streamers first, it’s something to build up to. Regardless, the Elgato Stream Deck is a hot item that any dedicated streamer should have in their arsenal.

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