I started streaming over a year ago and in the beginning, found that there are a lot of repetitive tasks when it comes to streaming. When you are streaming, you have to start the stream, stop the stream, switch in between scenes and much, much more. Of course, there are ways to set up hotkeys in OBS, Streamlabs or whatever streaming software you happen to use, but it can become very tedious and a pain to deal with on a normal streaming schedule. So I did my research and started looking for an easier way to handle these functions. The answer I found was the Elgato Stream Deck.
I was impressed with the packaging for the Elgato Stream Deck. The box looked like it was really thought out in terms of design and the Stream Deck sat snug in the package, which I have to say is something you don’t see much of in the packaging today. I noticed there was no damage when it arrived in a regular padded envelope.
This product was a welcomed addition because I have had many years of video production experience using a variety of equipment, including switchers, that are valuable when trying to pull in multiple scenes on the fly during a live broadcast. The Elgato Stream Deck definitely fits that bill by taking the concept of the ease of hitting a button and switching camera angles or scenes and apply it to all aspects of the streaming experience. Basically, all the things a streamer can do in software right now, the Stream Deck lets you do them with its hardware and cuts your valuable time in half.
Product Hardware and Setup
The build of the Stream Deck is solid and very professional with the exception of the USB cable that sticks out the top of the Stream Deck. The USB cable is shorter than I would have liked and since it is not detachable, the only option available would be to use an extension USB cable. At the time of this review, I made multiple attempts to get the Stream Deck to work with both a USB 2.0 and a USB 3.0 extension cables, but was unable to get the Stream Deck to even boot up, let alone work. The other issue I found was with the stand provided with the Stream Deck. The plastic base felt flimsy and cheap compared to the solid construction of the Stream Deck itself. It appeared to me as if the base was an after thought of the product.
The model that I reviewed was the 15 button OLED model. There is also a 6 button version of the Stream Deck available for those seeking the abilities of a Stream Deck with a lower price point. The buttons on the Stream Deck are well made and feel solid to the touch. With the addition of the OLED in the buttons, the Stream Deck shows its versatility by allowing you to use images to signify what each button does as opposed to trying to read small text.
The Elgato Stream Deck software was easy to use and easy to get used to. After I installed the software and plugged in the Stream Deck, I was able to get my basic stream setup completed in about 30 minutes. This was partly due to having software tie-ins to Open Broadcaster Software (OBS), Twitch, Twitter, and more. You can manage an entire stream without ever having to Alt-Tab or pull focus away from a game. Do you want to launch OBS? Program a button to launch OBS. Want to start streaming? Hit another and send a stream directly to Twitch, Youtube or Mixer. Do you want to let everyone know you are streaming? Simply program another button to announce to your Twitter followers that your stream is starting. Also, for those times you need to close a game mid-stream and want to full-screen your webcam or do any other fancy scene-switching… Yeah, you can program buttons for that, too.