Elgato is finishing 2022 just as it started, by welcoming a new member to the Stream Deck family - the Stream Deck +. However, unlike the rather unusual Stream Deck Pedal that arrived at the beginning of the year, the new Stream Deck + is a return to more familiar territory in the streaming for gamers space.
Previous iterations of Elgato’s frankly excellent Stream Deck simply played around with size and form factor. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it after all but the Stream Deck + heads in a new direction. It’s a new twist on the formula and arrives with a higher $199.99/£209.99 price point to match.
Design & features
Elgato is mixing it up with the Stream Deck + and offering creators two new ways to interact with their setup. The classic Stream Deck LCD buttons remain, but now they’ve been joined by two newcomers, a touch bar, and four clickable dials.
Even beyond the new range of inputs, there are a few notable design changes between the original Stream Deck and the Stream Deck +. It’s certainly plus-sized, nearly twice as large in every direction and like the Stream Deck MK2 the flexibility of a removal stand is gone in favour of a more robust fixed position. The viewing angle is bang on though and the input layout feels a little less congested than a regular Stream Deck with more room to breathe between buttons and dials.
Each of the eight buttons on the Deck + retains Elgato’s customisable LCD screen and they’ve had a growth spurt too, now about 15% larger with noticeably sharper displays. While this doesn’t sound like a lot on paper, I was surprised at how small the standard Stream Deck keys suddenly felt in comparison, particularly when running both devices side by side in my setup. They’re just as tactile as previous Stream Decks with the same rubberised feel, bright screens, and satisfying muted click.
Jumping to the bottom row you’ll find four metal dials, slightly recessed into the face and pleasantly textured on the sides. My only minor gripe with the design is a lack of backlighting behind these dials. In a dark room, they disappear a bit, particularly with the screens above shining bright so a little LED ring around the base of each would have been a nice touch. These dials sit below another impressively sharp screen, this time a 4.25in/10.8cm touch-sensitive bar that offers both information on your dials and an additional way to interact.
Overall the Stream Deck + feels like it’s divided neatly into four distinct columns. The eight buttons are asymmetrically spaced to be divided into pairs rather than a uniform grid. Each pair is perfectly aligned with a dial below, which in turn talks to its own quarter of the touch screen. It’s all very organised.
I’m not going to hang on the buttons for too long, barring a size change they function exactly as those on the original Stream Deck. They’re pleasing to use and with around 0.20in/5mm of travel, they’re safe from accidental clicks, even without looking.
It’s the touch bar and dials where things get interesting on the Stream Deck +. They mark the first time Elgato has offered a new way to interact with a Stream Deck (if we ignore the fancy footwork needed for the Stream Deck Pedal) and it’s a brilliant first showing. Elgato says the force needed to rotate one of the stepped dials has been "finely tuned for optimal input speed" and it’s hard to argue with them. Coupled with the grippy machined surface my fingers never slipped and the steps are just the right distance apart to confidently allow single-step adjustments without overshooting.
The touch bar is responsive and achieves a surprising amount thanks to a number of clever ways you can interact with it. As well as offering dynamic information about the dial beneath, single taps and long touches act as unique input methods too, and swiping across the bar will change pages of commands. Combined with customisation either per quarter or for the background as a whole, it all comes together as a really seamless experience where everything does what you’d expect and hope it to do.
Controlled by the same intuitive drag-and-drop software as previous iterations, the Stream Deck + adds new functionality in the form of Dial Stacks. These are super clever and great to use, particularly when paired with Elgato’s other gear. An update to the Camera Hub app puts full control of every camera setting inside these dials with a press of the dial scrolling between each setting. Twist, click, twist, click, twist, done. Then the touch bar joins the mix, a tap here toggles between auto or manual control or a long press resets things to defaults. It all feels really natural and offers excellent, granular control on the fly.
Overall - Should you buy the Elgato Stream Deck +?
The Elgato Stream Deck + is an interesting addition to the range because it’s not really competing for the same job as its family members. It’s a brilliant device that, in the right setup, will open a lot of new doors when it comes to managing your stream while live. It won’t hold huge benefits for everyone though and some creators will be better placed with the more traditional button-only Stream Deck, particularly given the relatively steep $199.99/£209.99 price point of the +.
That’s not a slight on the + though, it’s just a case of having the right tool for the job. If you’re deep in Elgato’s ecosystem the Stream Deck + is perfectly suited to controlling Facecam and Control Hub settings while keeping all the same flexibility of the original.
How we tested the Elgato Stream Deck +
I’ve been using the original Stream Deck since 2016 and it’s become second nature at this point. Rather than replace it, the Stream Deck + was added to my setup alongside it and used for actions that didn’t feel at home previously. In addition to specific testing and exploring Elgato’s native plugin offerings for the dials, I used the Stream Deck + for live streams and tried to incorporate new actions into my general computer workflow.
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