We recently got the chance to try out the latest Elgato Stream Deck model from CORSAIR as they sent us the Stream Deck XL for review. We had previously had a chance to sit down and review both the regular Stream Deck as well as the Stream Deck Mini. So we already knew kind of what we were getting ourselves into with this new system. For starters, this thing is heavier than the others. The Mini is a few ounces, and the standard is about a pound, both self-contained. This is about four pounds and comes in two parts as the deck itself sits on an L-Frame stand where the USB cord comes in through the bottom. While the Mini had six buttons and the standard has 15, this deck has 32 giving you double and extra the regular deck. There's not a lot of setup as you simply plug it into your tower, let it download the software, and you're set to go. The software allows you to choose from a series of pre-made buttons to interact with media players or software like OBS, so it's easy to map out what each one does. But you also have the ability to create button commands from scratch including the icon that appears.
The idea behind the Stream Deck XL is to give a streamer on Twitch, YouTube, Mixer, Facebook Gaming, or wherever else you may be access to all the tools you need in an instant instead of switching between monitors or programs. You can program in sound effects, graphics packages, Discord actions, microphone settings, light settings if you have them rigged right, chat commands, broadcast commands, and more. You can even create multiple profiles so that in case you use up all 32 buttons, you can program a button to switch between setups and program more in. You can even set this up to do menial tasks like opening up Spotify or iTunes, opening pages on your browser, quick commands for Photoshop and more. If you ever wanted the Jetson's lifestyle of things happening in a one-button push, this is the system for you.
Ultimately, this is an amazing deck to get a lot of stuff done with. But there are two small cautions to it. First, on the tech side, it doesn't work in a USB 3.0. You have to use 2.0 or else it will only light up and not register or interact with the software. OS be aware of the ports you have. The other is more of personal concern. While the Stream Deck XL is an impressive piece of hardware that can do a lot, it can also be a paperweight in the wrong hands. If you truly wanted to, you could have an entire broadcast studio control system on your desk if you program this correctly. But it could also go to waste in a hurry if you only program a few soundboard items and the basics to operate a stream. When you're looking at a deck that costs $250, that's a pricey paperweight. This is a deck for those who have made streaming their life and need to make it easier to be a one-person show without a ton of downtime. There are great possibilities in this system and it can be one of the greatest tools at your disposal. But if you're only looking to do a couple of things, look into one of the other versions.