Stream Deck XL Review – a Content Creator Perspective
Today we are taking a look at the latest offering by Elgato (now part of Corsair) that is especially relevant for content creators – the Stream Deck XL.
We have already looked in-depth at the original Stream Deck and since the XL is, for the most part, a giant version of the original – you should really watch the review of the first version to see just how useful it is.
So what changed with the XL version? we shall start with what didn’t change. The fantastic software of the original Stream Deck works across the entire lineup which now consists of three physical devices and an app. The software itself got many updates since we have reviewed it a few months ago including a very recent one and it is completely different than the one that was available when the original product was launched about two years ago (we will talk all about that in a second).
Size comparison – the original Stream Deck (left) and the much larger XL version
Externally the XL is much bigger, measuring 18cm or 7″ across over 11cm or 4.5″ tall compared to 11cm or 4.5″ wide over 8.5cm or about 3.5″ tall that the original unit measured. This allowed Elgato to add more than twice the number of physical buttons/monitors onto the unit – packing 32 instead of 15 of them (arranged in a 8×4 instead of 5×3 in the original version).
We also noticed that the screens themselves look a little better and talking to Elgato we understand that they are using new panels for the XL compared to the original version.
One huge difference is the base. The original version had a plastic base that was not liked by many users (both the original and XL units themselves are actually very well made and even after falling to the floor a few times they are still working perfectly although we do not recommend this of course). The XL has a new, large and strong base that has powerful magnets inside that hold the XL in place.
If you have the room for the XL in this angle on your desk – it is a fantastic solution and the angle is spot on in our opinion. Sadly, if you are like us and use it with a retractable keyboard drawer and you have a limited height – you have a problem. You can use it without the base and it still has a better angle than the original unit without the base but we really wish there was some option in the middle. Since some clever users have made 3D printed versions of stands for the original version available online – we are hoping that they will do the same for the XL. We will probably just replace our drawer to accommodate the size and height of the XL.
The last significant difference has to do with the USB cable. The original unit had a fixed USB-A cable which was not that long. We actually used an extension cord for our rolling studio computer video shooting rig video. The XL, on the other hand, uses a detachable braided high-quality USB-C cable that you can replace with a longer one if you like – a really nice touch. We would still like to see a wireless version but at the moment the closest thing that we have is the mobile iOS app.
As we have mentioned the software of the Stream Deck is certainly its strongest aspect. With the multi-action option, power users who make a large part of the target audience for the XL can make complex series of synchronized operations in succession.
Advanced software with endless options (our current Premiere Pro profile)
Case in point – you can quite easily set a multi-action in Premiere that will change the speed of a track to any specific number with a single click – just think of some of the more complex things you can program the Stream Deck to do in this way.
The only thing still missing in our opinion at this point is a simple way users can share and search profiles for different software from inside the Stream Deck – something that could save a lot of time and effort from users and create a live and active community which is already growing around the web but needs a true home. Knowing some of the amazing people involved in the development of the Stream Deck, we won’t be surprised to see this, and other innovations in the not too distant future.
With a price tag of $250 compared to $150 of the original version (you can find the original stream deck and the smaller mini 6 keys Stream Deck on sale from time to time – so keep your eyes open), who do we think can really benefit from the XL? The simple answer is anybody who uses the original Stream Deck and feels that 15 buttons are just too restricting and that creating folders within folders is not convenient enough. Also, people who might otherwise buy two Stream Decks might see the XL as a way to save cost and space. If you are one of those – you are definitely going to love the Stream Deck XL and we know it will find a new home on our desk.
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