With the Stream Deck, Elgato solidifies its position as the top dog in game streaming. This gadget streamlines your broadcast with a number of useful tools that let you change camera angles, switch video feeds and alert your social media followers with a quick tap of a button. Elgato's new streaming tool took our weekly gaming broadcasts to the next level after just a few weeks of use, and it's an easy recommendation for anyone looking to do the same.
The Stream Deck's small form factor and sleek, minimalistic design make it easy to carry. The device's 15 bright, colorful keys are actually mini LCD screens that you can customize with whatever ridiculous thumbnail you can find. It was incredibly simple to create our keys using the Stream Deck App. The keys themselves are backlit for when you're streaming your favorite horror game in the dark.
The fixed USB 2.0 cable is a bit on the short side, especially for the type of gaming streams we do here at Tom's Guide. This was easily remedied with a USB extension cable, which let us use the Stream Deck from the couch. It would be great to have a wireless option in the future or, at the very least, the ability to swap the USB cable with something longer.
An included stand props up the Stream Deck, but it feels unstable to the point where one overzealous button press might knock it down.
The Stream Deck's operation is simple enough. The Stream Deck app lets you drag and drop specific scenes, websites and even programs onto whichever key you choose. What's even more impressive is that you can create subfolders to access anytime. For example, you can designate a folder just for your social media accounts that sends out a tweet or a Facebook post when you're ready to go live.
Elgato's accessory truly shines when using Open Broadcaster Software (OBS). Once you map all of your sources, you can do things such as switch from gameplay to a webcam on the fly without ever having to touch your computer or rely on keyboard shortcuts. You can even set up more elaborate commands, such as having a GIF pop onto the screen whenever your Twitch channel gains a new subscriber or you perform an impressive feat in your favorite game.
Folks who use XSplit might be disappointed with the Stream Deck, though, as you can't drag and drop scenes the way you can in OBS. One workaround is to assign your scenes and sources to hotkeys on your keyboard in XSplit, and then assign those commands onto a Stream Deck button. It can be tedious, but it works.
In the case of our weekly Facebook Live streams, Stream Deck made it a breeze for anyone to switch cameras and change sources without needing to memorize hotkeys or be physically at the computer running the stream. Also, it just makes things look more professional and organized.
The Stream Deck also plays really well with Elgato's Game Capture HD software, even if livestreaming isn't your thing. It serves as an especially handy tool for taking screenshots or recording gameplay footage with your own commentary to add to your YouTube channel.
Twitch broadcasters will love that you can easily pull up things such as viewership and even post automated messages in the chat. The Twitch integration can have you instantly streaming and interacting with your fans.
The Stream Deck is a good starting point for someone who's looking to increase the production value of their streaming content without having to spend thousands of dollars on a pro-grade switcher or hire a part-time producer. Elgato once again has provided a way to make life easier for streamers that lets them focus on creating awesome new content for their viewers.