The Stream Deck by Elgato (not to be confused with Valve’s Steam Deck) is simultaneously one of the most innovative and pointless inventions to hit the market. There are many people who praise this device, noting its ability to dramatically improve their productivity in tasks other than streaming. Others claim it is a glorified programmable keyboard. (It basically is, but the software makes it really stand out)
Starting off with some basics about the stream deck:
- It is versatile – The keys can be programmed to do just about anything you want them to in the software
- It is customizable – The keys are mini video screens and can display whatever image/gif you want them to
- It is dependant on software to function – It isn’t a problem right now, but any device that relies on propriatary software to function is likely going to have limited long-term support
With that said, let’s get to answering those questions you have!
Table of Contents
1: What does a Stream Deck do?
A Stream deck is a programmable keypad with 6-15-32 buttons (depending on the model you opt for) that have video screen buttons. It serves to increase productivity without needing to know how to program a keypad using AutoHotkey scripts that you have to write yourself.
The video screen buttons allow you to figure out what function the key is performing at a visual glance, without the need for gluing labels onto the keycaps. This is especially beneficial for those of you who set up custom program-specific profiles – the label will change at the press of a button within the software, eliminating the need to remember what every key did across profiles.
2: Will I be able to use the Stream Deck as a Gamepad on PC?
Yes, you can use the Stream Deck as a gamepad on PC. However, it is essentially going to be emulating the input from WSAD and other keys on your keyboard more than the gamepad functionality. After all, the buttons are not pressure-sensitive like a Dualsense controller.
3: How to Upgrade from 15 Key Stream Deck to 32 Key?
Well, there is no way to physically upgrade the original hardware DIY – You’d have to buy the 32 key version separately. Not even the Stream Deck mobile version (the one that turns your phone into a Stream Deck for a subscription fee) can do more than 15 keys at a time, which is silly, in my opinion. Tablets exist and have enough screen real-estate to fit more than 15 easily. Additionally, there is no trade-in program to swap out a smaller version for a larger one.
With that said, there is a workaround – You can get more keys by utilizing folders and setting up program-specific presets. Folders allow you to save additional groups of buttons at the cost of one button on the screen. This increases the number of key presses to get to the action you want to use and increases the likelihood of accidentally pressing the wrong key, but it does increase the number of actions your Stream Deck can execute within a single profile.
4: What is the Lifespan of the Stream Deck?
To answer the question of what the lifespan of the stream deck is, I first need to explain a few points where the device can fail.
- The Screens – The first thing to likely go on the device are the screens themselves. This is because they are always active, and thus recieve the most wear and tear
- The Buttons themselves – There is no rated keypresses for these buttons that I could find in their documentation, but industry standard is roughly 50 million keypresses. (Per key)
- Electronic input devices like keyboards and the stream deck are susceptible to water damage. Try to avoid spilling liquids on the device. In the event of a spill, unplug your device as quickly as possible, and let it air-dry face down for 24-48 hours before attempting to use it again.
- The connection – Since the device is likely going to remain plugged in, the connector isn’t likely going to see much wear. However, any wires not managed properly are a tripping hazard, and can result in the damaging of the connection. If you’re handy with a soldering iron, and you are out of warranty, you can attempt repairs yourself to attempt to fix the stream deck.
- The Software – The ultimate limiter to lifespan of this device is the upkeep on software. If Elgato decides to stop supporting earlier models, it can effectively become an expensive paperweight.
All in all, you can expect the Stream Deck to last around 3-5 years with daily use in mind. Possibly longer.
5: Is a Stream Deck Worth it?
Whether or not the stream deck is worth it will depend on you since everything that it can do can be done using the keyboard and mouse.
This makes the device a productivity-boosting tool rather than something that fulfills a need that wasn’t addressed previously in some way. This can make swallowing the cost of the Stream deck – Around $75-$250 depending on the model you buy – tough to justify.
This cost can be mostly avoided if you opt for the mobile app version, which will only run you $2.99/mo or $25 for 12 months. However, competitors in this space offer free mobile apps that directly compete with Elgato’s mobile app if you’re okay with ads popping up on your screen. For example, you have Touch Portal.
But Elgato is far from the only company to delve into physical programmable button devices. In fact, many of these companies bundle them with other enticing features such as the AVerMedia Live Streamer AX310, which provides 4 programmable buttons, as well as audio control. However, that device is designed to compete more with the GoXLR, which was one of the most popular pieces of audio gear for streamers a few years ago. (It still is very popular but is getting harder to come by.)
6: Does the Stream Deck Pedal Slide Around on Hardwood Floors?
Despite their advertising of Anti-skid feet, the Stream Deck Pedal will slide around on hardwood flooring, especially if they are polished. Rubber can only do so much, and the device simply isn’t heavy enough to generate enough friction to stay in place when your feet are involved. The effect can be mitigated with a proper height setting on your computer chair, allowing you to rest your feet on the device in a natural way, but it can and often does still slide.
This also happens on smooth tile flooring, but not to the same degree as hardwood flooring.
7: Can you use a GoXLR and a Stream Deck on the same USB Hub?
Yes, you can use a GoXLR and a Stream Deck on the same USB Hub. Since it isn’t a high bandwidth USB device, like a microphone or GoXLR, it can be paired with either on the same hub without issue in most cases. Your computer will tell you if the USB bus is over-saturated, so it isn’t a problem until your PC tells you it’s a problem.
General USB best practice: Your Microphone/audio interface is on a separate USB hub/Bus from your Webcam or camera. This is especially true if you have multiple webcams attached to your computer at once for a multi-cam setup.
8: What Languages does Stream Deck Support?
The Elgato Stream Deck supports the same languages as Windows – It inherits your language preferences from when you first set up your computer. With that said, there is a way to change the language of the Stream Deck software, but it does require some pretty technically difficult steps that can cause some irreparable damage to your operating system if you change the wrong value.
This is because you can only change the language of the software by editing your Registry in Windows. If you’ve never heard of the registry, or the horror stories that resulted from changing values in it, then just know that it can go very wrong very fast and may even require a system reformat to remedy any mistakes made here.
Check out this post on Reddit that guides you on how to change the preferred language of Elgato’s Stream Deck Software.