In May of last year, Elgato released the game-changing Stream Deck which took the streaming world by storm. With the ability to change scenes, adjust audio levels, play media, and post to social media (among many, many other possibilities) at the push of a button, it became a must-have for many casters looking to improve the production value of their stream. The quality-of-life improvements the Stream Deck added to broadcasts were clear to both streamers and viewers and Elgato is looking to expand on this.
Last week, Elgato announced the Stream Deck Mini, a smaller and more compact version of the widely popular device. I was provided with a Stream Deck Mini, courtesy of Elgato, and have been using it for about a week which has been enough time to explore the ins-and-outs of the hardware and software. So how does the Stream Deck Mini compare to its year-old predecessor?
How does it work?
At its core, the Stream Deck Mini is a control pad with six customizable LED buttons that act as hotkeys to change scenes, adjust audio levels, play media, and post to social media faster than ever before. Right out of the box, the Stream Deck Mini is equipped with Twitch, Mixer, and YouTube functionality along with custom configurations for the major streaming programs like OBS Studio, XSplit, and Streamlabs OBS. Third-party support from programs like Streamlabs and TipeeeStream just add to the feeling that the Stream Deck is trying to cover all bases by leaving as few essential streaming programs out.
Setting up the Stream Deck Mini was as easy as installing the small program from the Elgato website and plugging in the device via USB. After booting up the Stream Deck program, it recognized the device and I was able to begin customizing it instantly. From there, you can choose from the different streaming programs on the right-hand side to drag-and-drop actions onto your Stream Deck’s interface. Choosing an action to place on your buttons registers instantly with the actual device and the icon will show up and be ready to press as soon as you lift your finger from the mouse.
Do not let the “Mini” in the name fool you, this Stream Deck provides countless possibilities past the initial six buttons. Each of the six buttons can be turned into a Folder allowing one button to turn into an additional five with a Back button to return to the menu prior. If you were to turn all of your six buttons into folders, you now have access to thirty actions. By placing folders inside folders, without exaggerating, you have unlimited space at your disposal!
Strengths and Weaknesses
The obvious difference between the Stream Deck and the Stream Deck Mini is that this time around, Elgato has opted to release the product with six buttons instead of the original’s fifteen. This decision was made to create a more financially viable option for streamers looking to try the product’s functionality. The Stream Deck Mini is set to release at $99.95, which is $50 less than the original. Although it is more affordable than the standard fifteen-button Stream Deck (valued at $150), those who have been searching for a “cheap” alternative will probably be disappointed by the relatively steep price tag of the Stream Deck Mini.
Through the consistent updates to the software, Elgato has added new features such as implementing the multiple folders action and well as it’s most recent addition: Multi-Action commands. Multi-actions are as close to setting up macros as you’re going to get without flooding your keyboard with complex combinations. Like Folders, you can pool several actions together into one list which will all be activated with a single button press. Some of the most useful multi-actions I found myself using were assigning my buttons to bring up the most essential programs for my broadcast. Before using the Stream Deck Mini, my desktop was cluttered with program icons and files, but I compiled all of my important streaming software into one spot to easily boot them up as I’m preparing for my stream. Now: OBS Studio, my chatbot, Streamlabs, and my channel’s Dashboard all boot up with one singular button press.
While this may be targeted to streamers looking to try out the functionality of the hardware, veterans may be interested in another Stream Deck like the Mini due to the ability to add a second Stream Deck to their set-up. The Firmware 2.0 Update that released in January implemented this feature for those looking for further customization or to prevent the hassle of combing through several layers of folders to find the action you need.
As someone who never had an original Stream Deck, exploring what the Mini could do was exciting and led to some creative outcomes for the actions I chose to assign. The easy-to-use interface, as well as the wealth of options to choose from, made it fun to explore the device’s features and experiment through trial-and-error what worked best for me. Newer streamers or even some experienced streamers looking to test the waters with this creative new peripheral will love the freedom the Stream Deck Mini gives you.
The Stream Deck Mini is undeniably useful and is a tool that I don’t see myself streaming without. At first glance it may seem limiting in its size and the higher price point is discouraging, but if you take advantage of the expansive Multi-Action and Folder features it’ll be hard to find something as good as this (other than the original Stream Deck itself.) This is a great product that is more approachable for those looking to test out its features or who do not need the scale of the original. If you’re a streamer who has been looking to dive into the world of streaming with a Stream Deck, this is a perfect place to start discovering what this can do for you.
The Stream Deck Mini is available for $99.95. You can find out more information on the Elgato Stream Deck Mini webpage.
Disclaimer: Product was received from Elgato for the purpose of this review. Post contains affiliate links.