As a person who is interested in streaming part time in 2018, no other device excited me more in Elgato’s new lineup of products then the Stream Deck. Marketed as a new way to “Evolve Your Content,” what the Elgato Stream Deck provides to any level of content creator is the power of a broadcast studio in the palm of their hand. While its retail price of about $220 CAD may seem expensive to some, the Stream Deck is a product that isn’t just great for streamers or let’s players, but anyone that works with any reputable brand of production software.
Out of the box the Elgato Stream Deck comes in two components, the core device which houses 15 customizable LCD keys and the adjustable stand for it to sit on. Aesthetically, the Stream Deck looks sleek and professional. The LCD keys act like traditional concave keycaps, but can be a fingerprint magnet at times due to their glossy sheen. Setting up the Stream Deck is a breeze, users only need to plug the device into their Windows 10 computer using a USB cable and download the Stream Deck app from Elgato’s website. With those two steps done, the user is now free to customize the Stream deck to meet their needs.
The easiest way to describe the functionality of the Elgato Stream Deck is that it acts similar to a hotkey. Instead of memorizing inputs for specific functions, the user simply assigns the Stream Deck’s LCD keys with actions and creates a visual icon to represent it using the app. A good example for this is how users can control their stream in OBS. Within 5 minutes of playing around in the Stream Deck app I was able to create scene transitions with effects, create play and stop broadcasting buttons, insert sound effects, and change my audio sources with the simple tap of a key. While these are surface level examples of what a content creator can do, the Stream Deck’s true value comes from its huge list of compatible software where users can freely create actions for YouTube, Twitch, XSplit, Adobe Premiere, and even manage their social media platforms, including Twitter.
Now that sounds like a lot a user needs to manage if they have actions across a variety of software and platforms, but thankfully all of these actions are easy to organize due to the Elgato Stream Deck’s folder system. Simply create a folder using the app, label it for the platform the user plans to use and then create commands for it. Originally the Stream Deck was only able to hold up to 210 actions before maxing out, but as of writing this review, the folder system has been expanded on and users can now create an unlimited number of actions to satisfy their desires by creating folders within folders.
My only disappointment with the Elgato Stream Deck was that it wasn’t able to integrate with one of the most commonly used tools by Twitch streamers, Stream Labs. This however is in the process of being fixed with the upcoming 2.0 update, which is currently in public beta for users to try out. Many of the updates this beta software covers are quality of life improvements that the community has been asking for and it’s nice to see Elgato is willing to stand by their product and give it the TLC it needs to become more efficient and hassle-free for the user. If you aspire to be more than an amateur content creator, then the Elgato Stream Deck is a fun and intuitive way at learning how to properly manage your content and deliver it at a professional level.
A retail version of this device reviewed was provided by the manufacturer. You can find additional information about CGMagazine's ethics and review policies and procedures here.
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