Stream Deck+ in the test: Elgato now also gives streamers rotary controls

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With the Stream Deck+, Elgato is expanding the physical possibilities of the control console for the first time. However, the software and the Elgato ecosystem remain decisive: Depending on the application scenario and equipment, the model is either the ideal control unit or an attempt to shoot sparrows with cannons.

Table of contents

  1. The first Stream Deck with more than LCD buttons
    1. The Stream Deck+ gets the hang of it
  2. Mediocre workmanship and a solid base
  3. Easy setup on Windows and macOS
  4. The software capabilities are enormous
  5. Conclusion

The first stream deck with more than LCD buttons

Elgato's Stream Decks are customizable control panels aimed primarily at content creators and live streaming applications such as Twitch. So far, the Stream Deck has been available for 149.99 euros, the larger Stream Deck XL for 249.99 euros, a smaller Stream Deck Mini for 79.99 euros and the Stream Deck Mk.2 for the same 149.99 euros. The input options are the same for all models mentioned: square and programmable keys with LC display in an ortholinear arrangement are the trademark of the Stream Deck product family.

The Stream Deck+ has got the hang of it

The Stream Deck+ for 229.99 euros breaks this tradition for the first time: In addition to eight of the aforementioned LCD buttons, Elgato's latest control console also offers an LCD touch bar and four tactile 360-degree rotary controls with a pressure function, thus walking in the footsteps of the Loupedeck Live respectively Razer's Stream Controller.

In any case, these are dedicated control consoles that can be used to adjust and control audio tracks, stream lighting or facecam settings, for example. In addition, macros and action sequences can be defined using the associated software. As an advantage of the LCD macro keys, Elgato also mentions fast visual feedback for the Stream Deck+ without having to take up space on the PC screen for this purpose. Elgato also refers to numerous plugins, icons, pieces of music and sound effects as well as an associated store or free media libraries for Stream Deck buyers.

Mediocre processing and a solid base

The Stream Deck+ measures 140 × 138 × 110mm and weighs 465g. It has a non-moving stand so that the controls are always at an angle of about 40 degrees to the user. There is a USB-C port on the back, with a USB-A connector installed on the other side of the 160 mm long cable. In any case, the Stream Deck+ only requires a USB 2.0 connection. The control console doesn't make a particularly high-quality impression at first glance due to the case being made exclusively of plastic, the wobbly LCD buttons and the pressure point being extremely spongy, and wobbling knobs. The gap dimensions, on the other hand, give no reason for complaint, and on top of that the Stream Deck+ is stable. Nevertheless, the appearance does not necessarily match the recommended retail price of around 230 euros.

For comparison: The Stream Deck and the Stream Deck MK.2, each with 15 LCD buttons, cost 150 euros according to the RRP, the Stream Deck Mini, equipped with six LCD buttons, costs 80 euros and the Stream Deck XL with 32 buttons 250 euros will be due. The basic functionality of the various older models is the same, only the number of physically present keys differs. Only the Stream Deck+ can stand out with its LCD strips and rotary controls.

Easy setup under Windows and macOS

The software, which comes with several programs at the same time, is more important than the hardware anyway: the Stream Deck software in version 6.0, Elgato Camera Hub 1.5, Elgato Control Center 1.5, Elgato Wave Link 1.6.0 are available at the market launch of the Stream Deck+ and numerous plugins. Windows 10 or macOS 10.15 is generally required.

When setting up the Stream Deck+, the first thing you notice is that the eight existing LCD buttons can be used almost as often as you like thanks to switchable pages and folders. The space for predefined or your own actions is therefore almost unlimited, although not all functions can be accessed at the same time. The situation is similar with the new, infinitely rotatable knobs: Actions can be placed on “stacks” so that you can switch sequentially between the various functions by pressing the knob.

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< img src="/wp-content/uploads/e5bb48adac91b643ad844706bc1f806d.jpg" />

Elgato Stream Deck +

The configuration of all this is easy after a short orientation phase in the clear software – also thanks to the practical drag 'n'drop operation. For example, it is possible to drag JPG files from the desktop into the Stream Deck software and onto one of the LCD buttons, so that the image is then displayed as the background of the corresponding button on the Stream Deck+. The background of the LCD bar can also be customized, with Elgato already offering a few patterns and scenes to choose from. There is no need to confirm or save any of this: Changes made affect the connected Stream Deck+ almost in real time and can therefore be easily understood.

For a comprehensive and ultimately actually constructive configuration beyond simple standard functions, however, users should have a specific goal in mind and know which of the dozens of plugins will help. The DLCs are available for OBS, Nvidia ShadowPlay, Twitch Studio, Philips Hue or Discord, for example. A Spotify integration is also offered and it is also possible to monitor hardware parameters of your own PC, for example the CPU load. A HWiNFO plugin is also available. However, if you have not defined a specific application framework in advance, you are at a loss.

The software capabilities are enormous

Ultimately, however, the software's options include controlling or muting the volume of various soundtracks using a rotary control – it can be the system sound, the soundtrack of a game, the microphone input or sound effects in the live stream. Said effects can also be downloaded free of charge from the store and are then available in the software. The same applies to icons for the LCD buttons or background music for the live stream, whereby you can filter between different genres, music speeds and instruments.

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Stream Deck Software
Stream Deck Software
Stream Deck Software
Stream Deck Software
Stream Deck Software – Plugins in Store
Stream Deck Software – Icons in Store
Stream Deck Software – Music in Store
Stream Deck Software – Store Sound Effects

Users can also mute their microphone, switch an Elgato Facecam on and off, change its digital zoom level or focus setting using the rotary control, and set the white balance and brightness. It is also possible to control the various Elgato ring lights or key lights. Live streams and recordings can be started and stopped, timers can be set and an Internet speed test can be carried out at the push of a button.

Alternatively, the Stream Deck+ can be used as a keyboard extension for classic creative and productive applications, such as video editing programs, image editing programs or mixing and mastering applications. If you have several application scenarios at the same time, you can use the software to create different configurations and save them in profiles. The complete key assignment of the Stream Deck+ can then be changed at the touch of a button – or, if desired, this can be done automatically when a corresponding program is started or determined by the window currently in the foreground. However, it should be noted that the corresponding Elgato software must always be running in the background. If the programs are closed, the Stream Deck+ loses all functionality.

Conclusion

In the hands-on, the Stream Deck+ presents itself as a targeted extension to Elgato's existing range of such control consoles. For the conception of the Stream Decks as a tool for streaming and creative applications, the rotary controls in particular make perfect sense. If you already have Elgato accessories such as a Facecam (test), a Facecam Pro, a Key Light (test) or an Elgato Wave DX (test), the manufacturer actually offers the ideal control center with the Stream Deck+.

However, for those who have not yet bought into the comparatively expensive Elgato cosmos, the recommended retail price of 229.99 euros seems very steep, especially since other products in the series are currently reduced for Black Friday, but the new one is not. Basic functions of the Stream Deck+ apart from the centralized device control can usually also be solved with all gaming keyboards of the premium segment and the associated programs or directly in software. At least to begin with – but that should easily be enough for a streaming start.

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Elgato Stream Deck +
Elgato Stream Deck + (Image: Elgato)

< p class="p text-width">Furthermore, the Stream Deck+ is by no means perfect: users are constantly dependent on several programs running in the background, the stand cannot be adjusted, the build quality could be better and the cable is too short for clean routing in many setups. And there are also a few small things that stand out negatively in view of the high price: If, for example, the system volume is changed using the rotary control, the Stream Deck+ does not provide information about the current volume despite the LCD strip – you still have to look at the PC screen for this.

All in all, with the Stream Deck+, Elgato has presented a consistent further development of the previous Stream Deck models, which inherits both strengths and weaknesses. Embedded in the Elgato ecosystem, it is a powerful tool if the possibilities and plugins for professional live streaming or creative work are used. The product is not recommended for a streaming beginner, not least because of the high price – without other Elgato products, the range of functions is limited, especially with the rotary controls.

ComputerBase was loaned the Stream Deck+ by Elgato under NDA for testing. The only specification was the earliest possible publication date, but the article appeared later. The manufacturer or retailer did not influence the test report, there was no obligation to publish it.

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