For a long time, Elgato’s excellent Stream Deck pretty much lived alone in the streaming markets for gamers and creators for those looking to streamline their workflows. Now Loupedeck looks to disrupt that dominance with Loupedeck Live, your answer to all your creative productivity needs.
At $269/£229 it’s a pricier option but it’s got a few extra tricks up its sleeve to fight for the crown of a must-have device.
Out of the box, Loupedeck Live is a tale of two halves, or two sides to be more specific. It’s a bit like a theater or a film set, from the front you see a beautiful, magical castle without a leaf out of place, but in the back, there are three guys in jeans holding it all together with scaffolding.
The front of the Loupedeck Live is excellent and packs a lot into a surprisingly compact package. The matte metal faceplate and dials are a premium touch, and every action provides satisfying tactile feedback. The stepped dials have a nice thud as they turn, and physical button presses come with a smooth, seamless click.
You have many options when it comes to tickets. On the face, you’ll find six stepped dials that also act as buttons, eight physical buttons, and 12 mini touchscreens. The variety of input options is surprisingly useful and offers more task flexibility than buttons alone. While things like changing volume levels or brush sizes can be accomplished in steps with the press of a button, turning a dial seems like a much more elegant solution than pressing a key.
The touch screens are sharp and colorful with a striking backlight. They are almost exactly the same size as the buttons on an Elgato Stream Deck, but appear to have a slightly higher resolution. Whether or not this is a side effect of the Stream Deck screens being covered in a clear resin slab, though, is hard to tell.
However, looking behind the magical castle walls is a bit of a disappointing story. While the front is high-end metal, the back is plastic with a hollow feel that’s at odds with the $269 / £229 price tag. The mount is a rather flimsy-feeling plastic bar that clips from awkward way into the holes in the back. This means that there is only one possible angle configuration and, unlike the unit’s four large rubber feet, there is only a small amount of rubber strip on each corner which makes it prone to slipping on your desk.
It’s more of an annoyance than a deal breaker and I’m sure a lot of users will go without support altogether, but it’s a really inelegant solution to a fairly basic problem and feels like an afterthought. The same could be said for the included USB cable, it’s a good braided cable but it’s too short and this severely limited the options I had for where to put it on my desk.
When it comes to using Loupedeck Live, it’s a bit of a quirky experience. I’ve taken full advantage of an Elgato Stream Deck almost daily for live streaming for the past five years, and yet found the transition to the Loupedeck difficult to make.
On paper, they accomplish the same thing, putting a plethora of shortcuts and actions at your fingertips, ready to be triggered at a moment’s notice. However, the difference here is that the main buttons on Loupedeck Live are not actually buttons. While using a grid of touch screens (which actually make up a giant touch screen for swipe gestures, which is nifty) feels like a more modern solution, the result is actually more complicated to use. There is no margin for error, no chance to feel your way to your target before triggering an action. Miss your mark with the push of a button and instead of changing scenes, it fired an air horn sound effect.
This meant I didn’t trust myself to use Loupedeck for quick actions mid-stream and instead found more use for Loupedeck Live while ironically not live.
However, as a productivity tool on my desk at work, Loupedeck Live started to work. Upon initial setup, you’re given default pages of shortcuts to launch common apps like Edge and Discord, media control, and common Windows shortcuts, which are a great starting point. If you want to start customizing things, the interface is easy to use and there are a decent number of fully supported apps, including Adobe Suite, which is still notably absent from the Elgato app store.
When opening Adobe Photoshop, Loupedeck automatically switched to a Photoshop-specific profile (again, preloaded) with several pages of common shortcuts. However, there is a definite learning curve for this to be quicker than traditional shortcuts or simply hovering to switch between functions. I found myself having to actively think about using Loupedeck to swap tools, although resizing brushes with a dial is a pretty cool way to work (and oddly satisfying too).
In general, should I buy it?
The Loupedeck Live is always going to be as good as you make it. All the build quality and functionality is there, but its value will vary depending on how well each individual can incorporate it into their setup.
If you’re a heavy Adobe Suite user or like a more visual representation of shortcuts, Loupedeck Live will certainly make your life easier. However, if you’re a live streamer looking for a companion, the Elgato Stream Deck is probably still the best option. All in all, it’s a good co-worker but less useful for streamers.
How we tested the Loupedeck Live
I added Loupedeck Live to my desktop both at home and at work and tried to integrate it into my life as much as possible over the course of a few weeks. At home, I used it to control various elements of my Twitch stream, from settings to changing scenes and triggering live sound effects. At work, I tried to find ways to improve workflows and accomplish common tasks.
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