Not just for gamers, but a gamers best friend
I’m always trying to find ways to make my workflow more functional. Not too long ago, Elgato introduced the Stream Deck programmable broadcasting tool. It’s a panel of buttons that is completely customizable. The full-size Stream Deck has 15 buttons on it, which was a bit much for my set-up. I like to keep things on the minimal size to conserve desk space. Fortunately for me, Elgato released the Stream Deck Mini recently which is perfect for my set-up.
Elgato describes the Stream Deck Mini as ‘tiny but mighty’ and they are right. You have studio-level control over your content in a very small package. The Stream Deck Mini is equipped with 6 programmable buttons instead of the 15 that its predecessor has. Each of the buttons is an LCD and provides you with the option to trigger unlimited actions. The software is very easy to use as it utilizes drag and drop technology and it works with programs you love like OBS Studio, XSplit, Streamlabs, Twitch, YouTube, Twitter, Mixer, and more. Stream Deck allows you to seamlessly integrate scenes and sources into this device with a quick tap. You can think of Stream Deck Mini as a ‘macro pad’. In addition to using it to open programs, you can program the Stream Deck with hotkey actions and keyboard shortcuts. Stream Deck Mini is everything you need for broadcasting from your workstation right are your fingertips.
I have a love-hate relationship with the packaging for the Stream Deck Mini. First, it is branded well and you can easily see what the product is supposed to be. There is quite a bit of information includes on the box so many questions will be answered right from the writing on the box. That said, it’s a lot of box for such a little device. The box is about 10 inches tall and the Stream Deck Mini device is only 3.3 x 2.4 x 2.3 inches in size. The only items in the box are the Stream Deck Mini with its attached cable and a quick start guide. Even though I’m not what I would consider an ‘environmentalist’, I do appreciate packing that is minimal and not wasteful. I would love to see Elgato rethink their packaging for this product.
Moving on, the Stream Deck Mini is an incredible little device. The first step to its set-up process is to download the Stream Deck app for your operating system. For me, it is for Mac and it appears as a menu bar utility. After you’ve downloaded the app, you can connect the Stream Deck Mini to your computer using the attached USB cable. At this point, you can launch the app and start customizing the buttons. To get started, you simply drag actions from the panel on the right side of the screen to the desired keys on the left. The LCD within the buttons can be programmed in any way you wish. You can choose to create your own icons or configure graphics using Elgato’s web interface. One thing I was a little concerned about was the amount of customization I could achieve with this smaller interface. As it turns out, there are limitless possibilities with the Stream Deck Mini since you can create folders for keys. You can literally nest folders inside folders and have a huge library of commands on the tiny deck of buttons.
So far, the Stream Deck Mini has performed flawlessly. I’ve programmed it initially to link to YouTube, Amazon, Final Cut Pro, 1Password, MacSources.com, and the Elgato Welcome page. I love being able to tap a single button and have these locations open with no other interaction. The primary function for the Stream Deck Mini is for broadcasting during live streaming events. You can set it up so that you can access functions, like playing MP3 files, during a broadcast. Stream Deck Mini has a lot of built-in features but you can also record your own hotkeys to access functions in separate apps like Final Cut Pro. I have actually set-up some hotkeys from within FCP and it’s made doing things like exporting projects and recording voiceovers much easier. I no longer have to hunt for those functions in the menus of the app, I can just tap the button to make it happen. To make this happen, you first have to set an action to open FCP. Then, you can record the hotkeys you want to use in the app. Elgato actually includes a fairly concise, easy to follow System Action guide on their website. It’s based off of the full-size Stream Deck, but the programming should be the same.
The only downside is that the programming is tied to the computer it’s connected to. If I move the Stream Deck to a different machine, I will have to reprogram it there. I do wish that the deck had onboard storage to accommodate for saved preferences, but that is really the only issue I have with the device.
I absolutely love having the Stream Deck Mini be apart of my work ecosystem. It’s a magical little device that makes my life a lot easier. I’m looking forward to using it more and more as time goes on and can’t wait to see what it does for my productivity. I can recommend it to anyone looking to make their workflow more concise or for broadcasters who want a simple way to add a switcher to their system. It retails for $99 USD and is well worth it in my opinion.