Elgato Stream Deck Mini Review: Say Hello To My Little Friend

The Stream Deck Mini can make producing quality streams easier without taking over your desk.

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Streaming video games is a big business. Twitch.tv, the biggest streaming site online, averages more than one million unique viewers per day and continues to grow. Loads of new tools and applications have been made available to help folks who want to produce these streams get professional results with little or no hassle. One of the biggest vendors for this type of equipment is Elgato. Elgato makes a range of streamer-friendly products like capture cards, green screens, and camera adapters. One of their more popular products is the Stream Deck, a desktop control unit that helps users streamline tasks associated with live streaming. Beginning today, Elgato is offering a more compact version of this device, known as the Stream Deck Mini. The Stream Deck Mini offers all the functionality of its bigger brother while taking up less space on your desk and being a bit easier on your wallet.

Good Things Come In Small Packages

The Stream Deck Mini is a small desktop device that features a small LCD screen with a set of six transparent plastic buttons laid over it. When used in conjunction with the included Elgato Stream Deck application, the Stream Deck Mini offers users a fully customizable controller that can interact with apps and services like Twitch, OBS, XSplit, Streamlabs, Mixer, Twitter and Youtube. Functions are assigned to the buttons by dragging and dropping within the Steam Deck application interface. Each standard function comes with a unique icon that will display on the button. When a given function is active, the icon is fully illuminated and when the function is disabled, the icon grows dim.

The Stream Deck Mini helps users produce better streams by letting them focus on the stream rather than the tedium of production. For streamers who use OBS, the process of changing scenes, sources, or audio inputs can be time consuming and when done on a live stream, can take focus away from what matters. The Stream Deck Mini allows these tasks to be handled with a simple button press. There is no need to change inputs, work with multiple windows, or take a break from gameplay when the Stream Deck Mini handles the grunt work. It can even make short work of the social media outreach tasks required to grow your channel. You can have a button assigned that will make a Tweet to your followers informing them that your stream is beginning with the press of a single button. No longer do you need to open a browser or Twitter client, log in, and type out the details. It’s one less thing to worry about and gets you up and streaming faster.

It Really Whips The Llamas Ass

You are not limited to the functions included in the Stream Deck application. The software allows you to open third party apps, load a web browser to a specific page, play sound clips, and more. The interface is versatile enough to let you assign hotkeys to the Stream Deck Mini buttons. While testing the device, I set the top left button to open Winamp and assigned the remaining five buttons to hotkeys that controlled the music and activated the MilkDrop visualizations. The 2004 version of me would have thought this was incredibly cool.

While the Stream Deck Mini only has six buttons as opposed to the fifteen found on its bigger brother, it still offers the same level of functionality thanks to its support of nested folders. You can assign a group of five functions to a button that are surfaced once you press the corresponding folder button. Like all other functions, these folders can use custom images thanks to the LCD display under the buttons. Every image I tried with the Stream Deck Mini worked well, even animated gifs. Seeing an array of party parrots moving in unison on my desk was a real hoot.

The Last Word

In real world usage, the Stream Deck Mini really does make working with the production side of streaming easier. The buttons have a good feel and the changing icons remove any doubt if the function you toggled was activated. The LCD panel has adjustable brightness, so I was able to clearly see the buttons in any lighting conditions. The Stream Deck Mini is a very small and light device, but this lead to one of my complaints. It is so light that I found myself pushing the device across the desk when trying to push one of the buttons while streaming. For best results, I needed to put my fingers behind the Mini and use my thumb for the buttons to hold the unit in place. Maybe a rubber coating added to the bottom could make it more slip-resistant. I also found six buttons to be limiting for my personal use case, but Elgato offers a bigger, heavier unit that would be a perfect match for my needs, so it’s no big deal. If you think that you could make use of the functionality of the device, have limited desk space, and would like to spend a little less money than what the fullsize Stream Deck costs, the Stream Deck Mini may be perfect for you.


The Stream Deck Mini review hardware was provided by the vendor. The Stream Deck Mini goes on sale today, July 24, for $99.

Contributing Tech Editor

Chris Jarrard likes playing games, crankin' tunes, and looking for fights on obscure online message boards. He understands that breakfast food is the only true food. Don't @ him.

Pros
  • Simplifies live streaming production
  • Easy to configure
  • Unobtrusive design
  • Powerful customization
Cons
  • Too light to use one-handed
  • Not a great fit for all users
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