You’d have to look pretty far and wide to find a serious streamer that doesn’t use one of Elgato’s Stream Deck devices. The desk-mounted broadcast enhancement device allows users to bind custom functions to its face buttons, making certain tasks like activating overlays or switching between cameras while streaming that much easier. One of the things that bothered less experienced streamers was the original device’s size and amount of available buttons — 15 in total. So it was that Elgato went back to the drawing board, not retiring the original Stream Deck but creating a smaller, more economical model. The result is the Elgato Stream Deck Mini.
In terms of functionality, there is no difference between the Stream Deck and the Stream Deck Mini. They operate exactly the same way, with each button ready for customisation. You can bind them to just about anything you like — Streamlabs OBS macros for effects or camera switching, chat lookup, press it into service as a podcast soundboard. You can have it open your Twitter account if you so desire.
But here’s the thing. The original Stream Deck is $199 AUD. The Stream Deck Mini is $159 AUD. That’s a mere $40 price differential between the two, and choosing the Mini means you’re taking a bit of a hit on total customisation options. What’s to stop you spending that extra $40 and getting the larger unit? For me, it boiled down to this: If you’re not a professional streamer, with limited funds, limited space and you’re looking to keep your setup as clutter free as possible, then the Mini is absolutely the way to go.
The original Stream Deck device featured a weak plastic stand that was supposed to support the device. It did not, frequently tipping backward or collapsing mid-stream with a thud that would blow the mic out, requiring you to stop what you were doing to prop it back up again. It was the worst. It’s also not on the Stream Deck Mini and I’m glad its gone. Instead, the Stream Deck Mini solves the stand problem by simply moulding the device in a wedge shape, allowing it to sit up on its own. There’s also some rubber stripping on the base that lets it grip your desk so that even sharp jabs at the buttons don’t knock it over. This is such a smart design change and I couldn’t approve of it more.
It’s fair to say that Elgato have done a lot of work behind the scenes to make the Stream Deck devices feel snappier and more responsive than ever. The software that’s included in the package has received numerous updates and improvements that make life easier out of the box. It’s easy to create profiles and folders, allowing you to fill your Stream Deck Mini with whichever apps you need at a moment’s notice, be they the ones created by Elgato themselves or just about any others on your computer. I expected there to be some amount of clunk involved with a product like this but I never found it. Everything about using the Stream Deck Mini is simple, and as long as you can get past only having six buttons at your beck and call, you’ll find its a significant upgrade over the original.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Highlights: Smart design; Great functionality; Easy to use
Lowlights: Some users may struggle with the lack of available buttons
Price: $159 AUD
Review conducted using a retail unit provided by the manufacturer.