So if you're a streamer, or really a media content creator of any kind, you know that at times you have to be a one-person studio. When you're live on a stream, there's a lot of stuff you can add and create on your feed to make it pop and make viewers who subscribe feel like they're getting their money's worth. Graphics, music drops, notifications, background changes, sound effects, etc. But as a lot of people have discovered, programming it all can be a hassle. And even after you've programmed it, managing it and making sure the screen isn't so cluttered it looks like garbage can be challenging. Today, we got a really awesome device we received for review that will fix a lot of your problems, even if you don't stream: The Elgato Stream Deck.
The Stream Deck is a 15 button panel controller that uses a USB connection as the power source and comes with a display tray for easier access. It's small, colorful, and simplistic as it comes across as a symbol-filled numpad. But don't let the design fool you, this is actually a pretty powerful device that can do a lot at the touch of a button. Each button is a mini LCD screen that will show whatever icon you choose to fill it with on the free software, which we'll get to in a second. The buttons are smooth and actually push down, so none of the finger sensitivity stuff you normally see from devices like this. They're also backlit which makes for great use in the dark, or if you're in a situation with lights on you and you need to see something quick while having a light in your face.
The system works independently from programs like OBS so that you have much more control at a moment's notice. OBS, for all the good it can do, is kind of an interactive mess that unless you spend hours setting everything up just how you want it, you're still switching over to a second screen to mess with the settings while live. The Stream Deck cuts a lot of that nonsense out and turns it into a simple button press. Let's say you want a graphic to pop up with you win a game as a sort of celebration, or a special gif to play when someone starts hosting your stream. Rather than pause the game to click through the six or seven layers of options to make that happen and then go back to the game, you can route everything through a single button and make it instantaneous. Or perhaps you'd like to send out a notification on Twitter and Facebook when you go live? You can set up buttons to send pre-written messages for you to hit the moment the stream starts. Even simple commands like muting your microphone or joining a Dischord feed can be set up with ease. Slow down chat or do sub-only chat, take screenshots or monitor messages. It is awesome to have this much control.
The software and button configuration work amazingly with OBS and Twitch utilizing their options and panels, there's a little bit of wiggle room you'll need to figure out if you stream on YouTube, but it can be adapted pretty easily. But the best thing about this system that will appeal to non-gamers and streamers is that it doesn't just work with streaming and gaming related stuff. You can program this thing to do a multitude of actions. Let's say you're a graphic designer who works primarily with Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. You can set up all three programs to automatically load to a new blank file, or setup button commands to automatically pull up features for you to edit with. Maybe you're a podcaster working with Garageband or Adobe Audition? You can program all the microphones, recording software, music and sound effects and more into a quick reference system. You can even set this up with video editing software to have better control over visual command prompts that sometimes take forever to deal with.
As a guy who does some media outside of writing, this was a godsend! The Elgato Stream Deck can be programmed to do just about anything, but more importantly, it's a tool that all streamers need. It is, quite literally, the equivalent of having a television station's control board in your hand. Everything you don't think you need it for it can do and make it easier for you to do it. The only limitations it has for broadcasting are what you program it to do because if there's a keystroke for it on OBS or in your other programs you run, it can be setup here. It is a little pricey, the system will run you about $150, but considering the amount of money you already put into your PC to make it the best gaming/streaming system already, think of this as a much-needed accessory that can be installed on any new system you purchase. We highly recommend it for anyone currently streaming, maybe not so much if you're just getting into it and need time to build yourself up, but this is a necessary addition.