Elgato Stream Deck Review
Nowadays, game streaming is extremely popular as a lot of people really love watching the gameplay process, as a result of which more and more players are trying to become famous by broadcasting game footage. Of course, not every person can make it big, but there are multiple viewers to compete for, so useful tools and services can be life-saving. The Elgato Stream Deck is a real friend of a person who is serious about game streaming because this desk can offer a customizable set of buttons for the most frequent commands. Besides, it allows you to choose many hotkeys across multiple programs for streaming services, capture services, editing footage services, etc. This deck is not necessary for every gamer, especially because it is not too cheap, but if you are a serious streamer, then this deck will help you a lot.
Functions and characteristics of the Stream Deck.
You probably have no idea what the stream deck can be useful for, so read this to get the answer. This device was created for gamers who want to stream the gameplay via special online services, for example, Twitch or YouTube. The stream deck has 3 rows of 5 buttons on its face. Every button has a very small, customizable LCD screen.
This device is not necessary for every streamer, but it helps to make things seamless while you are streaming. You just need to assign frequently used commands to different buttons. So it is up to you what will appear on the screen of every button, it is based on what software you use more. As far as you see, such functions are really useful for people who are very serious about streaming. If you want to engage the audience, you can use this device, as it will allow you to create special commands for chat, effects, animations, and to save specific gameplay videos. But the stream deck is not essential for people who are streaming for the first time with the audience that consists of several friends.
Now it’s time to learn more about the stream deck and analyze its characteristics. The design of the deck is not too impressive but there is a plastic stand for a clever setup. You can see 15 LCD buttons and notice that everything is made of black plastic. The size of the stream deck is really small: 0.8 x 4.6 x 3.3-inches, the weight is just 0.4 pounds. When you hold this deck though, you will feel that it’s not a cheap hollow box, it’s a good device. The Stream Deck’s weight and size will allow you to put it on your desk easily.
The stand doesn’t make the deck significantly bigger but it helps to use the deck without problems. On the front, you may see a vertical groove where you can locate the stream deck so that it will face out toward you. On the back, you will notice a kickstand and notches for the kickstand that help to adjust the right angle. Technically, there are 2 sizes of kickstand which allows to choose a necessary degree of angle options. Such an idea is really useful, as people shouldn’t make the stand bigger to adjust the angle, they just need to put the kickstand legs to the notches at the back.
If you put the deck to the stand, it will be easy to finally use it, but the real problem is that it may become difficult to see the buttons’ icons at such an angle. As it is easier to use a deck when it is stable, you should choose the right angle to make it flat or reclined instead of choosing a vertical angle. Although even if you choose almost vertical one, rubber grips will keep it from moving around when you’re pushing the buttons.
How to use the Stream Deck?
If you decide to use the stream deck, then the first thing that you should do is to connect this device to your computer via the USB cable. After that, you should open the website of Elgato to download the free Stream Deck software that will help you a lot. Such apps can find out which Stream Deck product you have connected, while the screen will show empty squares that are representing the layout of the deck buttons.
The next step is the customization which is actually pretty simple. The right-side bar is showing the tools and software that can be used for streaming. You will also see collapsible menus for Youtube, Twitter, Twitch, Mixer, Xsplit that may also be located in this right-side bar after installing the Stream Deck. Every menu shows all actions that can be done in the specific program.
Let’s take Twitch as an example: its menu offers different options including playing an advertisement, accepting the subscribers-only mode for the chat, making a video from the recent gameplay, and others. Once you drop any action into the blank square, it will be reflected on the buttons immediately. So if you decide to put the chat in subscribers-only mode, you should take this option and drop it in the blank space, as a result of which, it will appear on the Stream Deck button.
If a person is streaming on Twitch and he notices that the chat is becoming hard to manage, he can just flip it to subs by pressing one button instead of making several clicks on another display or even computer. If a person is playing a video game, it makes him focused on the action more, and it is possible to find such examples on many things. For example, it will be faster to press a clip footage button instead of clicking something on Twitch.
I made several streams to check how it works, and the results were really good, although I didn’t have a real audience. You can easily press a button if you want to save a video of the gameplay, send a prepared message, or start broadcasting. As you see the possibility of controlling everything on a physical board, it feels like a control center.
Everything was explained based on Twitch but such actions work in similar ways in other services as well. For example, the menu of Mixer is almost the same as the menu of Twitch; OBS has the possibilities to start and finish streaming. You can also find useful tools for game footage capture, you can simply open the Elgato’s website to find the necessary software. My computer doesn’t have a capture card so I couldn’t try such features but if you are the owner of such a card (like Elgato’s Game Capture HD60 S), you will easily understand how to use it.
Extra functions beyond streaming.
Probably you think that I am a professional streamer but, to be honest, I am not. I decided to test the streaming process to analyze the deck’s features and functions and to realize how to integrate the Elgato Stream Deck in the setup. As I am not a streamer, I also checked if this deck can be useful for some other tasks. And the results made me really happy, as I understood that Elgato Stream Deck can help with different activities, as a result, which I can recommend to purchase the device even if you are not a streamer.
In my opinion, one of the most useful integrations is a macro recorder and Nvidia Shadowplay (which is the software for streaming and recording gameplay). Shadowplay isn’t installed in the Stream Deck automatically, so you need to do this by yourself. There is a «More Actions» button, you can simply click on it to add plugins. These are made by many developers including Elgato.
These apps that I mentioned above were created by a developer known as BarRaider. Now, when I’m playing any game, I turn on Shadowplay, it is necessary for me now. This tool works as a frame rate counter which is quite comfortable, but it also has an Instant Replay feature which allows to save a video of interesting moments that happened during the game. Of course, I can also use a keyboard shortcut to create some videos, but there is a chance that this key may also be a key that I use for a specific command in the game, so it is better to use Stream Deck buttons. Such a situation is especially true when the clip function is located close to screenshot or record buttons on the Stream Deck. It can work as a real control center, so once you set up everything, there is no need to remember keybinds.
Super Macro is a very useful recorder with different features. It is possible to write a text for the commands and customize strings of actions familiar to people who know what macros mean. Such macros aren’t similar to the ones you may have on a keyboard, as you write them as text rather than with a recording. Several minutes were enough to understand the main things.
I also worked on installing and developing several in-jokes among friends in our group chats. For example, there was a button created for developing and using specific emoji. It is possible to change the image that is shown on the Stream Deck button into any file, as a result of which your panel may look very stylish. My friend created an emoji of my face, and this image was used as a button on my deck. Of course, you can use macros for many different reasons.
If you check all the possibilities, you may realize that 15 buttons are not enough for you. But as I didn’t need to use this deck for professional goals, I had space for frequently used commands. In case if you need more space, you can just purchase a Stream Deck XL created by Elgato: this deck has 32 buttons but it costs a little bit more.
After the analysis, I can say that this stream deck is really useful. Its cost is not low, so many people may decide not to purchase it. And if streaming is not what you want to do daily, then probably this deck is not essential. However, if the price of this deck was lower, then this device could be really awesome for many users. But its current price is high enough to make people want too many functions.
To be honest, this cost is quite reasonable for the users who really need such a desk. But if you are a beginner in the streaming process, then this deck is not what you need right now. It may become reasonable to invest in such a device once you get your audience. If you are a streamer with some audience and if you want to manage everything including chats, then this Elgato Stream Deck will be useful. Some additional functions of this deck don’t make it too valuable, however, the deck looks more interesting because of that.