The Elgato Stream Deck+ is a well built and very customisable button deck, but I do wish I could do just a little bit more with its dial controls.
|Quite flexible||Dials are not as configurable as they might be|
|Not just for online streamers!||Tad expensive if you just need the buttons|
|Works nicely with a lot of software||Angled orientation won’t suit all workflows|
Elgato has been making its mostly-streamer-centered Stream Decks for some time now. I’d somewhat pigeon-holed them as a streamer’s tool only, a nice thing to have for my YouTube channel in time, but not exactly compelling otherwise.
Having tested out the Stream Deck+ for the past couple of weeks, I was wrong.
A bit like classic 70s comedy trio The Goodies*, the Stream Deck+ really can be anything you want it to be, even if you never go near the world of online, on-demand streaming.
That being said, given that Elgato has cheaper models without the dials that differentiate the Elgato Stream Deck+, and the way that those dials work (and in some cases don’t), it might not be the unit that you want to start with.
The Elgato Stream Deck+ is a smallish unit, officially measuring in at 140x138x110mm, although that’s a slightly odd sort of measurement, because it sits on an angled stand. There’s no inbuilt way to adjust that stand either, so if you wanted flat buttons, or your workflow meant that sticking those buttons to a vertical surface made more sense, tough luck.
It comprises eight LCD display keys sitting above an LCD touch panel, which itself sits above four dials that also act as clickable buttons. That’s a lot of potential inputs.
One fun detail here is that the dials themselves can also be visually customised. The kit that Elgato sent to me came with the offer of my choice of colour dials – I chose purple, because, hey, Prince fan here – but there’s a wide array of choices. It’s not essential, the black basic ones are nice and shiny and everything, but it’s a fun step. More products should have a sense of fun.
Connecting up the Elgato Stream Deck+ is a simple enough affair, with an included USB C cable that can hook into either a PC or a Mac as required. You can’t really go wrong in any way that I can discern.
When you do make that connection, at first the Elgato Stream Deck+ will do… just about nothing. You’ll get an Elgato logo and not a whole lot else at all.
That’s because the Elgato Stream Deck+ absolutely relies on Elgato’s Stream Deck App for PC or Mac to actually configure it to do anything. There is something of a learning curve here as you work out what integrations are available and how to get things like multiple button sets going, or having a specific set of buttons open up to correlate with specific applications. Nothing awful, but it did take me a little while to wrap my head around both the possibilities and limitations of this approach.
The buttons are fine, and I quickly set up routines for my essential work tools, as well as subsets for video editing through Final Cut Pro and podcast editing through Adobe Audition. It took a little while to train my brain to reach for the stream deck for some of these functions – my keyboard shortcut muscle memory runs deep – but there’s absolutely scope for some real productivity gains from the button-based approach.
Then there’s the dials. They’re nicely set up if you are a streamer and need quick access to volume and light intensity functions, for example. The fact that they’re clickable in their own right also adds additional functionality, too.
The problem here is that compared to the buttons, there’s a much shorter set of integrations available for the dials if you’re not in the direct streaming game.
Sure, I can set a dial for system volume, and it’s feasible to assign keyboard presses to the dials, but that seems like a waste of an analogue dial. The Elgato Stream Deck+ isn’t exactly a new product, and one of the benefits of a programmable deck like this should be that new integrations can appear. So far, I’ve not seen too many that really make a lot of sense beyond streaming – and that feels like a bit of a waste to me.
Elgato Stream Deck+: Alex’s Verdict
The Elgato Stream Deck+ is a well built product, and it’s one that did surprise me. I didn’t quite see myself integrating it so quickly into multiple workflows.
But that’s mostly the buttons, and if I wanted just that, Elgato has cheaper Stream Decks out there to cover that space. The plus sign at the end of the Elgato Stream Deck+’s name is there for the dials, and I truly wish I could do just a little bit more with them.
Elgato Stream Deck+: Pricing and availability
The Elgato Stream Deck+ retails in Australia for around $330.Buy On Amazon
* Yes, I’m showing my age here. Again. This is my review. I can do what I like with it.