The Elgato Stream Deck + is a remix of the original Stream Deck, however, at a hefty price, are the new tactile dials worth it?
The Elgato Stream Deck has spawned a huge number of competitors in the streaming arena, but Elgato remains king. Now, Elgato is launching the biggest update to the Stream Deck since its inception. The Stream Deck + adds a controllable dial, in addition to a touch panel for further functionality. Looks a little bit like the Loupedeck, but baked within the Elgato family of devices.
The Stream Deck is primarily targeted at Streamers, but it can also be used for almost anything else, too.
Included in the box: Stream Deck +, USB-C to USB-A cable
The Elgato Stream Deck + looks great. It sports eight of its signature LCD keys up at the top. Sandwiched in the middle you get a touchscreen bar. Then, right at the bottom of the device, there are four tactile dials. The device is enshrouded in a matte black plastic shell, while the dials are made out of metal.
One of the first things we noticed is that the dials don’t all have the same tactile feeling. The dial on the far-left feels vastly different from the far-right. Around the back, you also have a USB-C input, and a non-adjustable stand.
The angle that the device sits at feels fairly comfortable, though you’ll want to have it within arm’s length to use it. It’s a shame the device is not wireless. The unsightly cables can make your setup look like a bit of a mess.
The other thing that we wished that Elgato would change is the feeling of the buttons. It’s tough to go from the lovely mechanical dial over to a mushy button. Having some kind of mechanical contact in there would have been a really nice touch.
The Elgato Stream Deck + has all of the functionality that you can expect out of Elgato’s classic peripheral. You can swap out the images of every LED button, and utilize the vast swathes of plugins and doodads through the Elgato app to configure each one. We’re set up with macros for common websites we visit, applications, and games. You can also swipe between pages using the touch bar. The touch bar also displays what you currently have your dials set to, and can even assign your own background to one, too.
Dials are not a complete stranger to streaming-adjacent hardware, and we have previously tried them on the Loupedeck. However, the same issue remains with Elgato’s solution as we had with Loupedeck’s. There are just not enough uses for them. We’d prefer a couple more buttons, instead.
You can set the dial to have multiple functions via a “Dial Stack” feature in Elgato’s Stream Deck software. This allows you to assign multiple functions to a single dial. You can switch between them simply by pressing them in. Our issue was that there just were not enough functions to keep us busy.
Elgato is clearly looking to lean on community support to handle the core functions of the dial and dial stack. But, for the majority of the time that we used the Stream Deck +, we ended up hardly using them.
Elgato’s Stream Deck software is pretty good, it allows you to assign all functions with ease, and without having to consult guides to set things up. If you wanted to use more complex functions, however, this might be a little bit more difficult.
If you use other hardware like Elgato’s microphones, or cameras, you will also be able to control these through the software too, and it all appears to be incredibly simple to use.
The Elgato Stream Deck + is geared towards content creators, we expect to be able to do things like increasing or decreasing brush sizes in Photoshop in the future. However, right now you’ll have to program it all yourself, until a plugin is available. If you’re not a content creator, you can still use it like a macro pad, which can come in handy.
At a $199 price point, we can’t help but feel that the Stream Deck + is selling a promise. The promise is that these dials will be more useful in the future and that they’ll help in more scenarios. But, right now we’re not really seeing much of that quite yet. The touch bar is exceptionally helpful for viewing what you have assigned, and the customization is a very nice touch.
Since this can hook into OBS, if you are a streamer then this device could be a godsend to help you mix your audio on the fly.
The Elgato Stream Deck + is, at its heart, a professional-grade tool. At $200, it comes in at expensive for the average consumer. However, for professional streamers or content creators, then it manages to come in clutch and justify its price. This is just what Elgato is all about. Previously, it could have cost much more to get a similar device before the Streaming era.
Now, Elgato looks to bring in pro-grade tools like controllable dials to the masses. Even though the dials and “Dial Stacks” have limited uses right now, we can’t help but commend them on breaking down these barriers to make this functionality more accessible.
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