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Elgato Stream Deck Plus review
A pricey but attractive streaming convenience that has uses beyond its namesake.
As faster internet makes game streaming more and more viable in Australia, it was only a matter of time before there was more competition in the stream deck space. Razer entered the fray recently with the Stream Controller, and while it’s a repurposed Loupedeck Live (another stream deck), it’s still a solid choice for streamers not turned off by its customisable depth. And now that the Elgato Stream Deck Plus has released, it’s time to see how the big name in streaming compares to this would-be usurper.
The Elgato Stream Deck Plus may be initially intimidating with no default button assignments. But the downloadable software is incredibly easy to use and encourages users to dig beyond the basics. The big colourful buttons are attractive and easy to press, while the dials and touch strip are practical inclusions. It is robust, but it’s also a shame the stand is fixed. Additionally, having to program multiple pages because of comparatively limited button/dial options may frustrate those who want it all on one device.
Elgato Stream Deck Plus value for money
The Elgato Stream Deck Plus has an RRP of $349 in Australia. That’s noticeably pricier than the original Elgato Stream Deck but cheaper than the Elgato Stream Deck XL, which have 15 and 32 buttons, respectively. In terms of modern expectations for a stream deck, the Stream Deck Plus asking price is still significantly cheaper than the $459.95 asking price for the Razer Stream Controller.
Elgato Stream Deck Plus design and setup
As we’ve learnt with smartphones, there are diminishing returns when devices built for physical inputs are too small. The Elgato Stream Deck Plus is well-proportioned, even if you’ve got larger digits like me. Even though the stand is immovable, the Stream Deck Plus sits practically at a 45-degree angle for easy viewing and straightforward access to the controls.
Speaking of controls, you’re working with eight generously sized LCD buttons that really don’t require much of a push to activate. Below those buttons sits the touch strip, which accepts either touch or swipe inputs. And at the bottom of the Stream Deck Plus are four dials, which have infinite left/right scroll and can be clicked in for further functionality.
I was miffed at first that the Stream Deck Plus didn’t have any default button or dial inputs, so all it shows when first plugged in is the Elgato brand name in the touch strip. This means newbies and confident content creators alike are dealing with a blank slate. Thankfully, the downloadable Elgato Stream Deck software is incredibly intuitive, though the lengthy input list starts with more complex multi-action commands.
Take a breath and scroll down to check out the options, and it soon becomes clear how powerful this tool is. I’d advise starting out with basic commands like those found under the ‘System’ submenu. In a matter of minutes, I was able to easily populate the eight buttons with shortcuts to my most-used software. Switching from the ‘Keys’ to ‘Dials’ tab was an equally fast process for assigning functions to the four dials.
Elgato is a manufacturer of audio and visual technologies, designed primarily for content creators. The company was founded in 1999 and bought by Corsair in 2018. Elgato products include microphones, cameras, green screens, capture tools and stream decks.
Elgato Stream Deck Plus ease of use
With my recent Razer Stream Controller review, I ran a test stream on Twitch to delve into its ease of use. The thing is, most of the baked-in functionality of the Stream Controller was better suited to content creators with more than one follower, which isn’t me.
So I did things differently with the Elgato Stream Deck Plus. Instead of streaming, I used it as a dedicated macro peripheral. One of the not-immediately-obvious perks of any stream deck is they’re as much built for video editors as they are for streamers. Instead of navigating menus or memorising masses of keyboard shortcuts, it’s much easier to tap a brightly lit shortcut on a dedicated peripheral.
It might be an unnecessary cost for most, but the Elgato Stream Deck Plus is an attractive productivity tool. For instance, when I start Windows 11 each day, I have a ritual of opening certain apps and checking for updates. Now the Stream Deck Plus does that for me with the tap of a button instead of multiple keyboard inputs and mouse clicks. So far, so good.
Hit the plus button in the Stream Deck Plus software to add extra pages. Initially, I thought that meant I had to dedicate a button on the first page to ‘next page’ functionality, and two buttons on subsequent pages for ‘next page’ and ‘previous page’. Mercifully, the aptly named touch strip lets you swipe left or right to quickly shift between pages, freeing up all eight face buttons for dedicated functions per page.
What you’re left with, then, is highly customisable control set of dedicated macro keys. The eight physical buttons are well lit, easily pressed and spaced out to avoid accidental taps. The dials also act as buttons, which makes me wish that Elgato let you add the full list of Keys functionality to dial presses within the Stream Deck software.
Elgato Stream Deck Plus vs Razer Stream Controller
It’s a very close battle between the Razer Stream Controller and the Elgato Stream Deck Plus. Though it has a flimsy stand, I like that the Stream Controller’s angled stand is removable. The Stream Controller also boasts more buttons (12 vs eight), which have haptic feedback, and more dials (six vs two), with physical buttons for navigating between pages. In terms of those unfamiliar with these types of devices, it’s handy that the Stream Controller comes with streaming-focused preconfigured options.
Because it has fewer options, the Stream Deck buttons are larger and, therefore, easier for large digits like mine to press. I also like that the buttons weren’t separated by a thin line of hard plastic and the extra space between them meant I never accidentally pressed the wrong Stream Deck button. The big edge for me, though, is how easy the Stream Deck is to program with basic functions compared to the intimidating Loupedeck software used in the Stream Controller.
Is the Elgato Stream Deck Plus worth buying?
The reality is that new streamers, content creators and video editors don’t need any kind of stream deck. Not really. Peripherals like the Elgato Stream Deck Plus feel like a best fit for those with plenty of streaming or editing experience that are tired of being slowed down by too many shortcuts and mouse clicks.
For everyone else, though, the versatility of the Stream Deck Plus means it’s a great (albeit optional) peripheral for a faster way to do things. As an efficiency-hunting small business owner, that’s important to me, and the easy-to-use software makes basic setup a breeze while simultaneously encouraging deeper tinkering to unlock the full potential of the Stream Deck Plus.
Price and deals are only accurate at the time of publishing.
How we review stream decks
We review stream decks by doing what they’re intended to do. For our audience, we want to make sure that a stream deck is incredibly easy to set up and makes the daunting task of streaming a whole lot simpler.
This means a stream deck should be plug and play. We then evaluate a stream deck on what default functions it has included. Ideally, we want a stream deck that makes first-time streaming simple.
Digging beneath the surface, we look into how the companion software works. We like a stream deck that makes it simple to reconfigure functions without being overwhelming. Price is also evaluated in the context of close competitors, and then we run test streams or other practical tests to see how practical and easy-to-use a stream deck truly is.
Elgato Stream Deck Plus FAQs
Yes, if you have the budget and the inclination, two Elgato Stream Decks can be used in tandem. Just make sure you have the USB ports.
While the Elgato Stream Deck Plus is meant for streamers, it can also be used for video editing, including Premiere Pro. Because it’s effectively a dedicated macro-key device, it can also be used for everyday computing.
Primarily, the Elgato Stream Deck Plus is built to assist streamers so they don’t have to use a second computer for streaming or alt-tab away from their main screen. Alternatively, the Elgato Stream Deck Plus + can be used as a dedicated macro device for video editors or anyone else who wants to program colourful buttons for commonly used shortcuts.