If you had of told me a year ago, as a person who streams at least two times a week and is legally blind, that I could get my hands on a small tablet-like device that fits nicely in my hand. A device that has customisable buttons and would greatly assist me in streaming to Twitch by way of native OBS, pre-composed tweets, scene swapping, audio mute on/off and start/stop streaming as well with a host of other Quality of Life features, I would tell you to take my money. If you told me that today, I would tell you exactly the same thing. That’s the Elgato Stream Deck.
When I first heard about the Elgato Stream Deck earlier this year, I initially thought it was a joke. Mainly because it sounds far too simple a solution to everything I personally needed to assist me in streaming content. “Streaming at the touch of a button”, the email claimed in a bold and intriguing statement. “Fully customisable buttons allow you to set up streaming at your fingertips along with many other commands from Twitch chat commands, to pre-composed tweets” it claimed, making me even more excited. “Releasing late April in Australian and New Zealand”, and my bubble burst. This was around January and as the months dragged on, I thought less and less about this miracle system that should have been made properly years ago and more about my audience and getting partnered on Twitch.
The Elgato Stream Deck has 15 customisable LCD keys, with one touch tactile operation. You’re able to switch scenes, change audio, launch media at the push of a button to make streaming easy.
The peripheral is fully customisable, from setting up scenes and sources, integration with twitter and Twitch to being able to load your own pictures for the buttons. Hotkeys can be used so you can set up multiple hotkey buttons to access other programs’ features for ease of access. Twitter integration is an amazing feature, lending itself to have multiple pre-composed tweets set up at the touch of a button.
You can also set up specific folders that can be accessed at the touch of a button, making it easy to shortcut twitter pre-composed tweets, twitch, OBS, or XSplit to have their very own folders for ease of access and grouping features together as you use them. This also means you can set up and label multiple camera scenes, making the switch between scenes seamless and removing the need for a live producer. The included application also allows you to set up custom JPGs for the buttons, meaning you can personalise your stream deck to you and you can even enter text for the button as well, to ensure you know that a button has a certain function.
SYSTEM HEAT EMITTANCE AND DURABILITY
I left the Stream Deck on for twelve hours straight five days in a row to see if I could break it. I wanted to see if it either melted down or burnt out over that time and the surprising thing was that it felt warm, but only just above room temperature. Far less than my Samsung S6 Edge Smart Phone, and that’s a pretty big deal. Sure, a peripheral shouldn’t heat up like a furnace from hell, but with a whopping 15 light up touch buttons, you would expect those buttons to provide a rather warm heat source. I haven’t “bush bashed” the console itself because I feel using it in a natural way gives a better sense of how it will survive over time. The unit is small and mostly plastics, but feels strong and durable. I certainly wouldn’t want to step on it, just in case, however I feel that if you did you wouldn’t be likely to break the Deck, but you would wreck the cradle that comes with it.
However, it’s not all fun and streaming games. There are a few issues that I have to bring up that I encountered.
OBS is not currently natively integrated with the start/stop stream buttons, despite Elgato making it a native application (Studio latest version?). This means having to set Hotkeys in OBS, then set them in the Stream Deck app for them to work making it a bit fiddly and not as beginner friendly to work out. However I have spoken with Elgato, and they are working on this for a future patch.
The fact that there is no Facebook integration (I don’t really blame Elgato) also has to be mentioned, seeing as the top two social media platforms are Twitter and Facebook. I assume the setup to Facebook and requiring an app integration with Facebook would have been a nightmare.
Don’t press the “Subscriber only” button on the Elgato Stream Deck when you get the system and run it. It will lock out your chat to subscribers only even if you’re not partnered. Delete this button asap, trust me. I spent a good three hours trying to figure out how to unsub only my chat. Would not recommend.
XSplit also isn’t natively supported, but hotkeys are definitely your friend here. Hotkeys can be setup to switch scenes which is incredibly useful when using the area capture for something like Magic Online. The only issue is when you have an animated outro/intro like I do, you don’t know when to switch scenes unless you’re on that scene to start with and have your alt+tab ready to switch to the game capture of choice. So that’s a bit of a hassle.
Temperamental crashes can be caused during set-up and will require a full PC reboot. I replicated this issue multiple times while trying to authorise Twitter and Twitch on the Stream Deck application. It also seems that after multiple presses of a chat button mid-stream (like having set up !command for twitchbot), it may cause the application to crash and you need to do a full PC reboot as the Elgato Stream Deck app will reload after you have killed it in task manager and reopen it into a blank screen. This has been highly frustrating mid-stream, let me tell you. Both these issues have been brought up with Elgato as they have not had any other customers with this issue.
SET UP WILL TAKE TIME
Continuing with issues on the software side, set up can be fiddly and additional sources of information may need to be referred to by non-tech minded users to set up things such as the OBS Hotkey issue. I am not a massive tech nerd these days, so it took a while for me to figure out how to integrate the hotkeys from both to make use of them in stop/start record and stream. It takes some time getting used to it, but when you’re comfortable, it all becomes so much easier to quickly set up and change commands. Especially helpful as the last patch wiped all the Stream Deck’s OBS commands I set up.
USB CORD AND CRADLE ARE DESIGN FLAWS
The USB connection cord is not replaceable for the Elgato Stream Deck. It is hardwired to the unit and this is a fairly big deal as you will not be able to replace the cord if it breaks from overuse. The only real way around this is to not twist or wrench at the connection and to avoid any sort of yanking on the short USB . I have found it is just long enough if I’m only sitting at my desk, however if you’re using it to record a video podcast or couch stream, you will need an USB extender. Though not expensive, it’s impractical to make a unit like this with a chair-to-desk only cord with the way that live spectacles like Australian Speedrun Marathon, BAM and other ESports and stream events are heading.
NO FOLDERS IN FOLDERS
This is actually a minor complaint, but you can’t folder stack. So setting up a folder for a specific game inside a folder for your OBS can’t be done. Not a really big issue though as just having folders, even single-level folders, is still really handy and a big deal.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
I am surprised that the RRP here in Australia is decent and not amazingly over-blown. At around $200 AUD, this little helpful piece of technology is at a really good price, however it is small and if it were above the $200 mark, I would tell you to not buy it regardless. You get what you pay for, but with the Elgato Stream Deck, you’re very close to that line of quality vs price (in a good way).
The Elgato Stream Deck is a great tool for any streamer. The unit itself is handy and cleverly designed with premium desk space in mind as well as a great benchmark price. Despite some small niggling issues, I would recommend this unit in a heartbeat and have been doing so to anyone who has asked me if it is worth buying at the $200 AUD mark. Do you need it? Not really, it is just an extension of what you can already do. Should you buy it? Yes, my answer will always be yes. It makes functions so much easier and eliminates the need for a live producer, because you can be the live producer. The Stream Deck is small, light and doesn’t look horrible on your stream. It makes streaming a real easy task.
The reviewer was provided a review unit of the Elgato Stream Deck by the company. Thanks to Al “Cheshire” Caynes for taking the time to review this for Progress Bar.
- Replaces a live producer to switch cameras or bring up images, mute mics or break images for your stream events.
- Far less heat emittance than a smartphone, even after 12 hours being left on.
- Very customisable. From setting up scenes and sources, integration with twitter and twitch to being able to load your own JPGs for the buttons.
- Hotkeys can be used, making set up of outside applications a breeze.
- Twitter integration is an amazing feature, lending itself to have multiple pre-composed tweets set up at the touch of a button.
- Can set up specific folders that can be accessed at the touch of a button
- OBS not natively set with start/stop stream buttons. You have to set Hotkeys in OBS, then set them in Stream Deck.
- Temperamental crashes can be caused during setup and will require PC reboot. Replicated issue while trying to authorise Twitter and Twitch on the app.
- If it crashes mid-stream, you need to do a full PC reboot to re-open the Stream Deck app.
- Stream Deck application must always be running for the Stream Deck to work.
- Newest version of OBS is required, won’t work with OBS Classic. This is less a problem of the deck and more an issue of OBS due to resource management of OBS.
- Set up can be fiddly and additional sources of information may needed by non-tech minded users.
- Short USB connection cord is not replaceable as it is hardwired to the unit.