Fancy a quick way to do things on your computer? Elgato has taken a new approach with a few small LCD screens for your desktop.
The computer keyboard has been around for quite a while, and we are all quite familiar with the excellence of QWERTY, but not all of us have keys designed just for us.
Take the function keys that are starting to disappear on the top row of the keyboard. Labeled F1 through F12, they are for additional functions, and in some apps you can even customize what they do.
But those keys won’t always be there, and so finding ways to create quick keyboard shortcuts usually has to come from multiple keyboard combinations, and if you’re already in an app, those combinations might not even work.
Gamers who stream their sessions online are quite familiar with this problem, and so a company known for its video capture devices that gamers can use has developed something designed to act as this middle ground, providing shortcuts in a small space. gadget.
Called the Stream Deck, it’s Elgato’s first keyboard-type device, and while it has buttons on a small pad, that’s about all it has in common with a keyboard.
Different from your conventional typing keyboard, the Stream Deck is based on 15 keys with small LCD screens behind each, allowing you not only to map shortcuts to the keys, but to customize the look of them with different images.
Think of it as a small set of 15 customizable function keys that you can make pretty and designed however you like.
Although there are only 15 keys, these can basically be grouped into folders, allowing you to jump into different sections and perform actions specific to those folders.
For example, if you’re a gamer and want to let everyone know what’s going on in the Twittersphere while you’re in a video game, you can tap a folder designed for Twitter and map phrases to the various icons. , let someone know that you did something without leaving the app.
Start recording? Stop recording? Adjust the sound? The idea with Elgato Stream Deck is that you can do all of these things while still staying in the app, because the buttons act as a shortcut to the app that does the work for you.
“We’ve revolutionized gameplay sharing with Game Capture HD and now we’re taking live content creation to the next level with Stream Deck,” said Julian Fest of Elgato. “It gives streamers a level of control that was once exclusive to mainstream entertainment broadcasters.”
Compatible with both Windows and Mac and running on USB 2.0, this is a product that could do a lot more than just give gamers the ability to control their shows like a TV studio, and you can see other scenarios of TV. ‘use to really get the personalization they’re after.
Create a small radio station? Match the buttons with various sound effects, promotions, etc.
Do a lot of photo or video editing? If Photoshop or Adobe Premiere is supported, functions can be mapped to keys here.
That’s the theory anyway, as Elgato’s Stream Deck requires the use of Elgato’s software, and it’s not yet clear whether Elgato will allow you to map the functionality of other non-gaming programs, a question that we asked.
One point is how far this technology has come, because as cool as the Stream Deck is, Elgato isn’t the first company to imagine it.
On the contrary, it bears a striking resemblance in concept to a project released from Russian studios Art Lebedev in 2008 in the Optimus Aux, which itself was similar to the Optimus Mini Three Keyboard in 2007 and the original concept of the Optimus keyboard. in 2005 that used displays behind each key on the keyboard, each ready to be personalized.
Cool as they are, Art Lebedev’s designs were often concept and very expensive when produced, as shown by the current version of the company’s full keyboard in the $ 1,500 Optimus Popularis, and that’s something Elgato is looking to surpass with its Stream Deck, offering a US price of $ 149.95, but no local Australian price just yet.
Our best bet is that it will come in below $ 300, and probably around $ 200 to $ 250, although we would wait for the local Elgato folks to tell us what it will be and when you can put your fingers on one. . We know we are intrigued to have a play.