If you’re considering starting your own reading or streaming channel, I mean seriously, you’ve most likely encountered a few of the hurdles that stand between you and your potential community. If you’re an experienced streamer, you know that staying engaged with your community is the most important part of your job. Anyone can sit down and play games, but it takes talent and the right tools to engage and manage the community that will allow you to thrive.
When it comes to handling these delicate operations, you need your tools to be as non-intrusive and simply functional as possible. This is where the Stream Deck comes in. It’s a tool that will give you back exactly what you put into it. Out of the box, this unassuming little rectangle comes equipped with a few pre-programmed hotkeys to manage your Elgato Game Capture software and trigger certain Twitch and Social commands on the fly, but over time it will become your ultimate command center.
So let’s go. Is it something you really need as a novice or pro streamer? Let’s review the device’s function, quality, custom features, and anything else you might need to know.
What’s the point of the thing?
You may find flowery words on the Elgato website or a few other reviews, but I’ll shoot straight with you. The Stream Deck is a convenient and highly functional hotkey hub designed to integrate with all of the most powerful and popular streaming software.
Setting up a stream, launching a stream, and maintaining a stream while interacting with your viewers can be hard work, and the Stream Deck is all about streamlining the process from start to finish, freeing you up for what’s most important: gaming. you play, and your fans.
Why waste time checking your Twitter and Facebook pages to type in invites and links to your feed? Hit your Facebook button and Twitter button on the Stream platform, pre-set with your own personalized posts and links to your channel, and be done. Don’t worry about going through multiple windows to set up your scene and start your stream in Elgato’s software before you start playing. Just press your preset scene and the stream button on the Stream Deck and it’s taken care of automatically.
Even if you’re not live streaming, the Stream Deck is extremely useful. I captured some ARMS gameplay for work, for example, and I had my Stream Deck sitting next to my gaming chair on a drinking table. After a particularly impressive match that I wanted to record, instead of getting up from my chair and clicking on some windows and dragging sliders to record my last bits of gameplay, I just hit my “flashback record” button. on the Stream Deck. That’s all I needed. I knew that the last five minutes of my game had been recorded and set aside for processing, and I could continue my game without any interruptions.
Literally every facet of your streaming and game capture workload is streamlined with the Stream Deck’s customizable, beautifully lit buttons. From simple things like muting and unmuting your mic, to tasks that might take longer like inviting your social media to follow a feed or throwing the perfect gif to say thank you to a new follower… All that busy work is consolidated at the push of a button, and it’s something you don’t realize you need until you have it, literally, at your fingertips.
Overall, I’m incredibly happy with the design and quality of the product. It’s not exactly cheap at $150, and you’re paying primarily for function, not form. There are a few changes I could make. The buttons are nice and the actuation is nice, but it’s a little too easy to press which feels a bit too firmly in the rear screens. You know that wave of colors you loved sending off your old laptop screens with your finger when you were a kid? You’ll see this light bending from time to time when you press those buttons, and I’m afraid months of senseless use by heavy users could eventually damage the rear screen.
While I’m glad the design of the Stream Deck is simple (a tool should never concede function to form), I have to wonder if the average consumer, after spending $150 and taking it out of the box, will feel that his money was well spent. First impressions last, and the Stream Deck feels great, extremely plastic and lightweight. Again, for the most part this makes it very functional and convenient when traveling, but this is something I did notice.
It would also have been nice to have the option to remove the USB cable, which is attached to the back of the device. When traveling, you will either need to wrap the cable around your Stream Deck or bundle it together.
This is my favorite part of the Stream Deck. Each of its 15 buttons, in addition to being highly programmable, is also aesthetically customizable. You can make these buttons look whatever you want, and the software that comes with your Stream Deck (which is skinny) offers a really robust icon creation suite. When you plug in your Stream Deck it will look like this:
With about 20 minutes of DIY, I trapped mine for my ARMS stream and had fun doing it:
I did this without watching tutorials or reading tutorials. Everything was simple and easy to manage. You can export and import custom layouts with a few simple clicks, so I can already see custom layouts in my future for most of the games I play. The Stream Deck really looks like your own personal toolbox once you’ve decorated it to look just right.
If you’ve got that cash to spare, Elgato’s Stream Deck is an incredibly functional tool for both new and veteran streamers. This device is the functional equivalent of a blank canvas, and before long you will have a command center worthy of the name, and worthy of your investment.
It won’t change How? ‘Or’ What you broadcast. It’s always about you. It just allows you to play your games and contact the people who support you with ease and flair. It takes the mundane, tedious work out of your day-to-day setup, contacts, and feed management, and that’s what makes it special. Plus, you know, it looks really cool.