Elgato’s excellent Stream Deck has long lived pretty much alone in the streaming markets for gamers and developers for those looking to simplify their workflows. Now Loupedeck is trying to break that dominance with the Loupedeck Live, its answer to all your creative productivity needs.
At $269/£229 it’s a pricier option but has a few extra tricks up its sleeve to contend for the crown of a must-have gadget.
Out of the box, the Loupedeck Live is a story in two halves – or two sides, to be more precise. It’s a bit like a theater or movie set, from the front you see a beautiful magical castle with not a leaf out of place, but at the back it’s three guys in jeans holding it all together with scaffolding.
The front of the Loupedeck Live is excellent, cramming a lot into a surprisingly compact package. The matte metal faceplate and dials are a premium touch, and every action brings a satisfying tactile response. The stepped dials have a pleasant rumble as they turn, and physical button presses come with a perfect smooth click.
When it comes to entrances, you are spoiled for choice. The front features 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 flexibility in tasks than keys alone. While things like changing volume levels or brush sizes could be achieved incrementally with the press of a button, turning a dial feels like a far more elegant solution than pressing around on a button.
The touchscreens are sharp and colorful with a punchy backlight. They’re almost exactly the same size as the buttons on an Elgato Stream Deck, but appear to have a slightly higher resolution. Whether this is a side effect of the Stream Deck’s screens being covered in a slab of clear resin is hard to say.
However, if you look behind the walls of the magical castle, it’s a somewhat disappointing story. While the front is premium metal, the back is plastic with a hollow feel that is at odds with the $269/£229 price point. The kickstand is a rather flimsy plastic bar that clumsily snaps into holes on the back. This means there is only one angle adjustment and unlike the four large rubber feet on the device itself there is only a tiny strip of rubber at each corner, making it prone to sliding across your desk.
It’s more of an annoyance than a dealbreaker, and I’m sure many users will forego the stand altogether, but it’s a really inelegant solution to a fairly basic problem and feels like an afterthought. Same goes for the included USB cable, it’s a nice braided cable but it’s just too short and this severely limited the choices I had as to where to place it on my desk.
When it comes to actually using the Loupedeck Live, it’s a bit of a peculiar experience. I’ve made the most of an Elgato Stream Deck for live streaming almost every day for the last five years and still found the transition to the Loupedeck difficult.
On paper, they accomplish the same thing by providing you with a plethora of shortcuts and actions to fire at any time. The difference here, however, is that the Loupedeck Live’s primary buttons aren’t actually buttons. While using a grid of touchscreens (which actually form one giant touchscreen for swipe gestures, which is nifty) feels like a more modern solution, the result is actually more difficult to use. There’s no margin for error, no chance to get a feel for your target before triggering an action. Miss your target with the press of a button and instead of changing the scene, you’ve fired an air horn sound effect.
This meant that I didn’t trust myself to use the Loupedeck for quick actions during the stream and instead found more use for the Loupedeck Live while ironically not live.
However, as a productivity tool on my desk at work, the Loupedeck Live started to deliver. The initial setup gives you default pages with shortcuts to launch common apps like Edge and Discord, media controls, and common Windows shortcuts, which are a good place to start. If you want to start customizing things, the interface is easy to use and there’s a decent number of fully supported apps, including the Adobe Suite, which is still absent from Elgato’s app store.
Upon opening Adobe Photoshop, the Loupedeck automatically switched to a Photoshop-specific profile (again, preloaded) with a set of pages with common shortcuts. However, there is a certain habitual learning curve to be quicker than traditional shortcuts or just hovering over them to change function. I’ve had to actively consider using the Loupedeck to swap out tools, although changing the brush size with a dial is a very neat way to work (and oddly satisfying, too).
Overall – Should You Buy It?
The Loupedeck Live will always be as good as what you make of it. All of the build quality and functionality is there, but its value will diminish based on how well each individual can incorporate it into their setup.
If you are a heavy Adobe Suite user or prefer a more visual representation of shortcuts, the Loupedeck Live will undoubtedly make your life easier. However, if you’re looking for a buddy as a live streamer, the Elgato Stream Deck is probably still a better choice. All in all, it’s a good work companion, but less useful for streamers.
How we tested the Loupedeck Live
I kept the Loupedeck Live on my desk both at home and at work and tried to integrate it into my life wherever possible over the course of a few weeks. At home I’ve used it to control various elements of my Twitch stream, both when setting it up and switching scenes and triggering sound effects while I’m live. At work, I’ve tried to find ways to improve workflows and share tasks.
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