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Tools of the Trade: Best Streaming Tools Spotted at TwitchCon 2017

TwitchCon 2017 has wrapped up and it's been a full weekend for streamers of all varieties and audience sizes to get together and congregate. That includes fans and amateurs that are potentially looking to get into the live streaming game themselves, whether it be as a hobby or as a possible side job.

There were multiple vendors available at the convention, showing off hardware, helpful software, and streaming equipment. Some of it even caught the eye of Shacknews. For today, we're shining a spotlight on some of the coolest pieces of tech and equipment that we spotted at the show. Would-be streamers may want to give these items a look if they're interested in getting into the live streaming game.

Razer Seiren X & Razer Kiyo

Every stream is as good as its webcam and mic. Hardware company Razer brought along two handy new tools for budget streamers.

Those who can't afford a top-of-the-line microphone may want to look into the Razer Seiren X. A continuation of the Seiren line, the best thing the X has going for it is its smaller size. It comes in smaller than previous Seiren models and is also noticeably smaller than most other bulky microphones. This is essential for users with smaller desk space or people like myself who like to hold their mics closer to their face. The Seiren X uses a "Super Cardoid" design to filter out most background noise. If things do get too noisy, there's an easy-to-reach volume knob and a dedicated mute button along the front of the mic.

The Razer Kiyo is for anyone who needs a good webcam and it comes with one feature that stands out right off the bat: a big ring of light. This is for users that need a good illumination source. However, there's no other way to say that the big ring of light creates something of an eyesore. But one can't argue with results and the light helps with darker spaces, such as the Long Beach Convention Center, creating a well-lit space and helping focus on the user. The specs are decent, as the Kiyo offers 720p video at 60fps, as well as 1080p at 30fps.

The interesting thing to note about both the Seiren X and the Kiyo is that both are plug-and-play devices. There is no software to be found on either device and both are compatible with Open Broadcaster Software and XSplit. They're decent budget options for those not looking to completely break the bank on microphones or webcams.

Razer's website contains more information on the Seiren X and the Kiyo.


The Webaround

Green screen backgrounds have become a must-have for most Twitch streamers. Getting one's personality out there often means getting one's face out to the public. But the idea isn't to do so at the expense of the actual gameplay that's being broadcast.

For those without a dedicated studio, the Webaround offers a handy compact solution. Think of something similar to a windshield sun shade, but repurposed to fit around any size chair. It's made with green fabric, allowing users a makeshift green screen that they can carry along with them anywhere. It's an elegant solution that can be used on-the-go and one that's friendly for amateur streamers. It doesn't even necessarily need to be used with live streams, since it proves valubale for post-production YouTube videos, as well.

Previously used for business purposes, in which users could purchase a blue or gray background version of the product, the green screen Webaround has found a good home with Twitch streamers and those that need a green screen solution on a budget. Assuming there's enough office space, it should go well with just about any setup. More information about the Webaround can be found on the official Webaround website.

(Honorable mention goes to the Elgato Green Screen, which works as a collapsible solution. But it's a little pricier, so weigh those options carefully.)


Freestyle Edge

Here's a product that isn't quite ready yet, but still impressed on the show floor. Kinesis Gaming brought along the Freestyle Edge, a keyboard that innovates by essentially cutting itself in two.

The Freestyle Edge's unique shape allows for some ergonomic solutions, allowing users to place the keyboard in 20" adjustable halves along different sides of their work station for maximum comfort. The left side is entirely focused on gaming, allowing for smooth WASD controls and a numbered keypad for macros. It also include 4MB of built-in storage, which allows for up to 9 custom layouts and the ability to remap any of the keys for any game. Keys can simply be laid out through the accompanying SmartSet app, to reduce the need for extra software.

This Kickstarter success story is a cool device, but it's going to be a little pricey. The Freestyle Edge is set to release in late November and go for $219. More information can be found on the Kinesis Gaming website.


GT Throne

For those who are going to invest in themselves sitting in front of their computer, it's going to be essential to have something comfortable under their butts. Gaming chairs were plentiful at TwitchCon, but one in particular grabbed my attention the most. That's the GT Throne.

The GT Throne feels like a comfortable faux-leather, fitting firm along the seat and the back. But where it separates itself is with its main feature. I asked the GT representative to explain what "immersive gaming chair" meant, since it looked like a mere buzz phrase. He answered that the GT Throne utilizes a patented technology that takes high-intensity moments in gaming into account, creating a vibration to go along with whatever action is going down.

"Oh, it's a rumble chair!" I chimed in.

Yes, it's indeed a rumble chair. The chair hooks up to a 3.5mm audio jack and comes with an AC/DC power adapter. It also has its own connectors for the user's analog headphones, USB headset, and microphone. There were several chairs hooked up to PC stations, but the representative did note that the chair would also work with mobile devices and could even work with the Nintendo Switch's handheld mode. It's already been used at several esports events, most notably the recent Game Tyrant Expo.

The GT Throne is a premium chair and it's definitely going for a premium price. It'll set streamers back a whopping $475. More information can be found on the GT Throne website.


The Elgato Cam Link

Webcams can be pretty expensive. And there are some people out there that have already blown money on high-end cameras or camcorders.

The Elgato Cam Link now offers a solution for those streamers who already own high-end cameras, but don't want to spend extra on a static webcam. Those users looking to create unboxing videos, reaction videos, or the like and want a higher-resolution solution than an expensive webcam can use the Cam Link to hook up any DSLR camera or high-end camcorder that may be lying around. This allows streamers to use their camcorders as makeshift webcams, hooking the Cam Link up through a USB 3.0 port. This allows for portability with laptops and works with XSplit, OBS, and Skype.

For someone looking to get into quick YouTube videos, this could prove to be a valuable tool, especially if they want to do something on location. For more, visit the Elgato website.


Gameshow

Let's end with some software. Gameshow prides itself on being an easier interface than the more common big boys, like OBS and XSplit. Utilizing three master layers, streamers can create custom layouts, not unlike Photoshop. Users can use their own assets or use the pre-made widgets to create their own layouts. Layers and elements can be edited on the fly, with streamers able to move them around at any point. There's a preview window along the left side of the GameShow program and a live window, showing off what's being shown to the audience.

Gameshow's pull is very much in its ease of use and because it looks so similar to Photoshop, it's something for newer stremers to consider. Its 4.1 update make it particularly tempting to dive into, given its new rendering engine, multi-track audio support, new transitions, and other additions. The cost doesn't sound too bad, either. It's a one-time $30 purchase with a year of free updates, with further payment only required if anyone wants further updates after a year.

If OBS and XSplit prove to be less than user-friendly, Gameshow isn't a bad alternative. More information can be found on the Gameshow website.

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