Before owning one, I perceived the Elgato Stream Deck as a frivolous expense. Why would I need one of these when I can do everything it offers with a keyboard and mouse? Or with one of many free alternatives on my phone?
Once I got it, the Stream Deck proved its worth almost immediately. Having a dedicated device that I can interact with is so much easier than a keyboard and mouse. Its programmable buttons and folders gives me way more control in a smaller package. Versus touchscreen alternatives, the tactile buttons make it easy for me to trigger actions without breaking eye contact with the audience. As Elgato has added more functionality through software updates, the value proposition of this device is only getting better.
I tinker with mine all the time, always finding more features I can use while streamlining my workflow. By the time I post this, the layouts pictured here will probably be outdated. Nevertheless, I thought it would be fun to discuss how I use this thing and the ways it’s made my life better. Maybe it’ll inspire you to step your Stream Deck game up. Or maybe you’ll have tips to help me improve!
Before I began streaming, I dismissed the Elgato Stream Deck as an expensive gimmick. At its regular price of $150 US/$220 CAD, you are paying a lot for what simply appears to be nothing more than 15 buttons. Once I started getting into streaming, I felt that I could manage my stream just fine with a keyboard and mouse.
With many hours of streaming under my belt now, I’ve begun to understand where a device like the Stream Deck could come in handy. I use my keyboard for hot keys, but I can’t unbind them from their default functions. For example, I want to type in a new numerical value to adjust the volume of the game. All of a sudden, my scene quickly flashes and ends on the wrong view because those same numbers are mapped to my different scenes. I’ve streamed for far too long with a muted mic because I didn’t realize it was muted. For a production-heavy show like Boss Rush, where I’m the host and the producer, I spend too much time not engaging with the crew or the audience because I’m too busy looking at the screen trying to cue up the next video or manage all of the visual elements that go into our game shows.
At this point in my streaming career, I knew that I needed more buttons. There are alternatives to the pricey Stream Deck, such as phone apps that offer similar functionality, or DIY solutions that can be done for much cheaper. You can even buy a cheaper Stream Deck featuring only six buttons. But when the original 15-button model went on sale as part of Black Friday, I scooped one up immediately.