Hands-on review: Elgato Stream Deck


The Elgato Stream Deck is a fifteen button USB powered control panel. It is designed to give streamers and content creators instant access to their software to aid in the production of professional videos and broadcasts.

I had seen pictures of a Stream Deck, but had never used one until Elgato sent me one so I could see it. I mainly used Streamlabs OBS for recording and streaming using a mobile app to control scenes, recording etc. The idea of ​​having a box with additional buttons to perform the same tasks didn’t really sit well with me. My thoughts on this changed dramatically after I started playing with the little Stream Deck device.

Setup is easy. The device is connected to your PC via USB and away you go. It comes with a stand that can be adjusted to the angle that best suits your setup. For me, the Stream Deck sits perfectly at the bottom of my monitor.

The Stream Deck features fifteen customizable buttons. Showing how much I had thought about the device before using it, I was, foolishly, I guess, somewhat surprised that each of the buttons was a small LCD screen.

The device relies on the Stream Deck software application, downloadable from the Elgato website for customization and functionality. The software allows users to customize the buttons according to their applications. The software application comes with a number of pre-installed button layouts for common software packages. But you can also find plenty more to download within the app with just a tap of a few buttons.

Using the software, users can set the button icon and label according to its usage. If you don’t like the default icons, you can use the online icon editor, accessible from the app, or insert your own image from a file.

The likes of OBS Studio, Mixer, Twitch, and Streamlabs OBS are easily controllable via Stream Deck, but I’ve also added buttons for Nvidia’s Shadowplay and even buttons to activate Adobe and MS Office apps. I also added buttons to call my website and my WordPress dashboard with custom images.

Although there are only fifteen buttons, setting up different profiles for each application, or how you want to use it, allows the Stream Deck to control as many functions as you want. I set up the first profile as an index, of sorts, with buttons to switch between profiles. Here I have also placed buttons to launch Word and a number of other useful software. I then set up profiles for Streamlabs OBS, OBS Studio, and the Elgato 4K app (for use with the prized Elgato HD60 S+ capture device.

Besides streaming, more enterprising players of button simulation games like Elite Dangerous, X-Plane or Digital Combat Simulator can use the Stream Deck as a button box. By assigning keys to buttons on the Stream Deck, you can access controls without fumbling.

I would say the Elgato Stream Deck is pretty much an essential tool for streamers. Even if, as I did, you use a phone app to control your streaming software, the Stream Deck is so much easier to use. It’s there in front of you, ready to use at any time. Besides streaming, the device also functions as an easy-to-use customizable button box to launch and control your favorite programs.


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