Elgato is aiming to make professional streaming just that little bit easier with the Elgato Stream Deck Mini. This customisable controller allows any streamer, whether thousands of subscribers strong or just starting out, to put together high-quality and seamless streams. And all at a price a little more suited to fresh-faced Twitchers.
This isn’t the first time Elgato’s strayed from the capture device game and moved into stream utilities: the full-sized Stream Deck has been around for roughly a year already. This device offers 15 programmable and customisable macro keys directly connected up to your streaming platform of choice for live control over stream controls, audio tracks, scene changing, chat controls, ads… whatever you want to set it up for.
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And the Stream Deck Mini is essentially the same deal as its bigger sibling. You still get almost all of the benefits of the unit, except Elgato has shrunk the original design down to just six concise buttons, taken away the adjustable stand, and shaved off $50 (£50) off the price tag.
The Stream Deck Mini isn’t just a few extra macro switches for your keyboard, either. Each switch is a fully-customisable LCD, and you can put whatever you want on there. So far I’ve opted for six buttons featuring my own pixelated face and six gifs of a dancing parrot, but I’m sure a seasoned Twitch streamer can get more utility out of the custom backgrounds. Or maybe they would want six pictures of their own face too? I won’t judge.
The easily customisable buttons aren’t just great for vanity, however. Their vibrant, bright, and eye-catching design also prevents any awkward accidental button presses during a stream, which could be pretty unprofessional, impractical, or even severely embarrassing depending on your content.
And setting up each switch couldn’t get much easier. Once you plug in the single USB cable and download the Elgato Stream Deck app, you are pretty much ready to go with a selection of default shortcuts for the most popular streaming apps in existence. That includes: Twitch, YouTube, OBS Studio, Streamlabs, Streamlabs OBS, XSplit, Elgato Game Capture, Mixer… all the hits.
The app utilises a simple drag and drop interface – from a list of useful functions over to the six buttons. Once there, you can set up the finer details of every switch and its function: whether that’s which OBS scene you want to switch to, how long an ad plays, which audio track plays, or what a default chat message consists of.
The Stream Deck app is a powerful tool, and one that even makes the Stream Deck Mini nearly as capable as its bigger sibling – despite the lack of physical buttons. The profile and folder functionality within the app allows you to group up similar shortcuts and functionality within profiles, folders, or any combination of both. So while you may not have access to every shortcut you need on a surface level, there’s near-infinite amounts of functionality hidden just under the surface.
And this stream gadget feels plenty sturdy, too. It’s satisfying to use; built out of a robust plastic; and thanks to the rubberised underside of the unit, it stays planted on a desk and doesn’t shift around much during use. There’s no angle control akin to the full-sized version, but that’s easily forgivable with this small form-factor model.
At $100 (£90), the Stream Deck Mini more than holds up its own versus the full-sized model at $140 (£135). While the Stream Deck felt somewhat more so an accessory for the already established and recognised streamer, the Stream Deck Mini is a far more accessible tool for anyone looking to take their casual streaming to the next level.
The Stream Deck Mini is by no means a necessity to creating a streaming fanbase that breaks records or will earn you a steady wage – any old keyboard can be a pretty powerful tool in the right hands. But, once you’ve used the Stream Deck Mini for even a short while, you’ll wonder how you ever went without.
PCGamesN verdict: 8/10
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