In the wake of the Elgato Stream Deck, stream controllers have become a popular addition to one’s setup. They allow streamers to seamlessly manage their shows in ways that aren’t as efficient as one could manage with hot keys or a mouse.
Despite the initial sticker shock for what amounts to “just” 15 buttons at face value, my Stream Deck has proven its worth many times over. From scene changes, to managing voice changers, to complex event sequences triggered by a single button, my shows wouldn’t be the same without it.
Though the standard set of 15 buttons should suffice for most, I’ve long since run out of space due to my production-heavy shows. Folders allow me to squeeze in a few more actions, but most activities require me to cycle between menus with extra presses, negating some of the device’s convenience. For streamers like me who are in need of even more control, the Stream Deck XL has us covered.
What sets the Elgato Stream Deck line of products apart from hot keys or mobile apps is that you get a hybrid solution that provides the best elements of physical buttons and digital screens. You get the tactile feel of buttons, which allows you to use the device without looking directly at the unit. You can also program each button to perform different functions across different profiles. I don’t have to sacrifice my ability to type numbers from my num pad because they’re all mapped to hot keys. I also don’t need to remember what the 7 key does, as the screens in each button say exactly what it does. Having used a Stream Deck for a few years now, these benefits have drastically improved my workflow while allowing me to create and manage a complex stream where my creativity knows no bounds.
Obviously, the biggest selling point to the XL over the original are its 32 customizable LCD buttons. More than double that of the standard Stream Deck, it’s much more real estate to work with. Better yet, the XL can work in tandem with other Stream Deck devices in multiple ways. For example, pairing the XL with a regular Stream Deck gives you access to 47 buttons. However, you can also configure the devices so that one Stream Deck acts as folders and its contents are displayed on the other. This gives you access to an insane amount of functions. Having that much space and configuration flexibility gives even existing Stream Deck owners a reason to give this device a look.
You can program all of these buttons using the standard Stream Deck software. From simple scene-switching to complex multi-actions, configuring your Stream Deck to suit your needs is a breeze. Furthermore, Elgato has been continuously adding integrations for third-party applications for quite some time, such as OBS, Streamlabs, Twitch, YouTube, Spotify, Voicemod, and many more. The value of this device continues to grow, making it increasingly vital to my rig.
Compared to similar stream controller applications, Elgato’s solution still packs a punch for its simplicity and its ever-growing catalogue of third-party integrations. That said, it is falling behind to its competitors in a few ways. As an example, LioranBoard allows users to trigger multiple actions at the exact same time, while the Elgato software runs through multi-actions one-at-a-time. Also, its inability to toggle filters in OBS continues to be a glaring omission, especially as other stream controllers offer this feature. Not sure if these particular adjustments are on Elgato’s roadmap, but I have no doubt that they’ll continue to make improvements on the software side as they always have.
Besides the extra buttons, the Stream Deck XL also benefits from having a sturdier stand. The original Stream Deck comes with a flimsy stand that often lots its position when nudged. Though you can’t change the angle of the stand on the XL, its solid stand solution works much better in practice.
Is bigger always better? Not necessarily. The Elgato Stream Deck XL is likely overkill for new streamers or those who run basic setups. But if your standard Stream Deck or app-based alternative is overflowing with actions, the Stream Deck XL is a stellar upgrade. Its combination of 32 buttons, sturdier build quality, and refined software gives streamers an unprecedented level of control in a device that feels premium.