This device is made for experienced streamers who have a lot going on and have to deal with it on the fly. With streaming becoming more and more mainstream, is a device like this actually necessary? Streamers have successfully managed their streams using keyboard shortcuts in the past, so what does the Stream Deck do to warrant its £140 price tag?
The Elgato Stream Deck contains 15 customisable LCD keys, allowing users to set up to 210 actions. This might not sound like a big deal, but Elgato have integrated actions with OBS, Twitch.TV and Twitter to make every day streaming easier. These actions can be anything from switching scenes and muting audio sources in OBS, to sending out pre-written messages on Twitter. Alright, so this might not be revolutionary, but it is undeniably useful.
Not only is the Stream Deck physically easy to use, but the software is also dead simple to navigate. Setting up actions is a breeze, though we aren’t sure amateur streamers will be able to appreciate this type of device if their setup is fairly basic. Take our stream for example: we only have a total of five different scenes, two of which are just images, another two that are slightly different in order to avoid blocking HUD elements, and a final scene that is just a capture card with a microphone plugged in. Not a lot goes on with amateur streams, eliminating the need for a device like this when you could easily rely on a keypad for the same actions.
However, there are a number of features available for partnered Twitch streamers to take advantage of. Preset chat messages, Subscriber-Only chat, Slow chat and a real-time viewer count are all worth mentioning, among a selection of other useful actions. Although, it’s important to note that users will have to be using Twitch and OBS when streaming in order to make the most of these. Unfortunately, the Stream Deck does not provide YouTube Gaming support, though considering that Twitch is the most popular streaming platform, this won’t be a problem for the majority of users.
So, let’s go back to the price. For amateur streamers, £140 is a lot of money to throw down when all you need to do is switch between a few scenes – even more experienced streamers can make do with a keypad, if they want to spend as little money as possible. This device is a luxury item. Surprisingly, we found that the Stream Deck’s true value lies in what it can do outside of streaming. Take a look at our setup, where we’ve assigned a variety of day-to-day keyboard shortcuts to the Stream Deck. Whether you want to record the last five minutes of a game in Shadowplay or even just use the Stream Deck as your taskbar, you can have all of these actions individually labelled and organised into easily accessible folders. Sure, a keyboard shortcut would achieve exactly the same thing, but you have to admit, that’s pretty convenient.
Taking a closer look at the Stream Deck, you’ll see that it looks like a premium product. The pad has a simple design and a solid black finish, meaning that it’ll suit most desks. It also comes with an adjustable plastic stand to hold it in an upright position. One thing that we were slightly disappointed by was the USB cable. Not only is the cable incredibly short, but it’s also fixed to the Stream Deck. For a device sporting this kind of price tag, we expected to see a detachable cable.
Users that plan on using the deck for day-to-day shortcuts as well as streaming will most likely need to switch the deck between their streaming PC and their normal one so having a detachable cable would have made this a lot easier. Depending on how far away your streaming PC is from your normal one, you may also need to purchase a USB extension cable in order to reach the Stream Deck when live streaming.
Streamers, both new and experienced, certainly don’t need the Stream Deck because you already have alternative options that achieve the same goal. It won’t change how you stream, or necessarily make your stream any better, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s an incredibly useful device to own. Whether you are using the Stream Deck to manage your live stream, or finding ways to incorporate it into your day-to-day use, the deck accomplishes exactly what it promises to do.