Review: Elgato Stream Deck
15 LCD keys at your fingertips
Today we're going to be taking a look at the newly-released Elgato Stream Deck. This 15-button mini control panel is designed to make common actions you'd take while broadcasting even easier so you can interact more with your viewers, switch scenes, send tweets, and more.
Out of the box, the Stream Deck is slightly smaller than I would have initially expected, but in a good way. The buttons are comparable to the size of a chicklet style key on a laptop's keyboard and the center key in the array has a little homing ridge just like you would find in the home row of your keyboard on the F and J keys. The individual LCD displays within each key are bright and are quiet enough when pressed to avoid causing background noise while you're streaming.
Points are also to be awarded for build quality. The Stream Deck is in an all metal enclosure and its plastic kickstand is surprisingly grippy, completely stopping the device from sliding around on whatever surface as you push the face buttons. The stand also features enough notches for height adjustment that you won't find yourself wanting. My only minor nitpick here is that the cable comes out of the top of the Stream Deck and looks somewhat messy. For the sake of cable management, I would have preferred the cable to come from the back of device and perhaps offer routing channels so you can orient it whichever way works best for you, similar to the underside of a keyboard.
Over on the software side, it's relatively easy and straightforward to start configuring the buttons on the Stream Deck to get everything just how you'd like it. You can quite literally just drag and drop common actions onto the keys, which you can personalize by picking icons from the built-in library or even using something custom you've designed. It's also possible to configure folders if you want to set up different categories or logical groupings.
Beyond that, however, is where things start to go south. The companion software only works on Windows 10 and OS X El Capitan or newer. Looking at current operating system market share, this means it will only work with ~31% of systems and is ignoring the ~49% market share still held by Windows 7.
Taking the operating system out of the equation, let's look at streaming software itself. The Stream Deck is only compatible with Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) or Elgato's own Game Capture, XSplit support is nowhere to be found. The recommended workaround for this is to use TipeeeStream and configure it as a browser source which isn't necessarily ideal.
With an MSRP of $149.95, the hardware hits all the right notes, but the software support leaves much to be desired. If you meet the specific criteria of Windows 10 and OBS, and stream enough to even need all of these hot-keys ready, then this device seems well worth the asking price. For the average Joe, however, it's a tough sell.