For the longest time, Elgato’s excellent Stream Deck lived pretty much alone in the streaming markets for gamers and creators looking to simplify their workflow. Now Loupedeck wants to disrupt that dominance with the Loupedeck Live, their answer to all your creative productivity needs.
At $269/£229 it’s a more expensive option but has a few extra tricks up its sleeve to fight for the must-have gadget crown.
Design & features
Out of the box, the Loupedeck Live is a tale of two halves – or two sides to be more specific. It’s a bit like a theater or movie set, from the front you see a beautiful, magical castle without a leaf out of place, but around the back, it’s three guys in jeans holding it all together with a scaffold.
The front of the Loupedeck Live is excellent and fits into a surprisingly compact package. The matte metal face plate and dials are a premium touch and every action gives a satisfying tactile response. The graduated dials have a pleasant rumble as they rotate and physical button presses come with a perfectly smooth click.
You are spoiled for choice when it comes to inputs. Across the face, you’ll find six stepped dials that also double as buttons, eight physical buttons, and 12 mini touchscreens. The variety of input options is surprising and offers more flexibility in tasks than buttons alone. While things like volume levels could be changed or brush sizes achieved in steps with the push of a button, turning a dial feels like a much more elegant solution than pushing out a key.
The touchscreens are sharp and colorful with a punchy backlight. They are almost exactly the same size as the buttons on the Elgato Stream Deck but seem to have a slightly higher resolution. Whether or not this is a side effect of the Stream Deck’s screens being covered in a clear resin slab though is hard to tell.
Look behind the walls of the magical castle though and it’s a slightly disappointing story. While the front is high-end metal, the back is plastic with a hollow feel that belies the $269/£229 price point. The plastic bar stand has a rather flimsy feeling that clips awkwardly into holes on the back. This means that only one angle setting is possible and unlike the four large rubber feet on the unit itself, there are only a small amount of rubber strips on each corner making it prone to sliding around on your desk.
It’s more of an annoyance than a dealbreaker and I’m sure a lot of users will go without the stand entirely but it’s a really clumsy solution to a pretty basic problem and feels like an afterthought. The same could be said for the included USB cable, it’s a nice braided cable but it’s too short and this really limited my options for where to sit on my desk.
When it comes to actually using the Loupedeck Live it’s a bit of a strange experience. I’ve made the most of the Elgato Stream Deck almost daily for live streaming for the past five years and still found the transition to the Loupedeck difficult to make.
On paper they achieve the same thing, putting a plethora of shortcuts and actions at your fingertips ready to be unleashed at a moment’s notice. The difference here though is that the main buttons of the Loupedeck Live are not buttons. While a grid of touchscreens seems like a more modern solution (creating one giant touchscreen for swiping gestures, which is nifty), the result is more difficult to use. There is no margin for error, no chance to feel your way towards your goal before action begins. Miss your mark with the push of a button and instead of a scene change you have a loose air horn sound effect.
This meant that I didn’t trust using the Loupedeck for quick mid-stream actions and instead got more use out of the Loupedeck Live while I wasn’t live, ironically.
As a productivity tool on my desk at work, however, the Loupedeck Live began to deliver. During initial setup, you’ll find default pages of shortcuts to launch common applications such as Edge and Discord, media controls, and common windows shortcuts, which are a great starting point. If you want to start customizing things, the interface is simple to use and there is a decent amount of fully supported apps, including the Adobe Suite which is still noticeably absent from the Elgato app store.
Opening Adobe Photoshop the Loupedeck automatically switched to a Photoshop-specific profile (again, preloaded) with several pages of common shortcuts. There is a definite learning curve for this to be faster than traditional shortcuts or simply loading to change function, however. I found that I had to actively think about using the Loupedeck to swap tools, although changing brush sizes with a dial is a very neat way of working (and also oddly satisfying).
Overall – Should you buy it?
The Loupedeck Live will always be as good as you make it. The build quality and functionality is all there but its value will be waived depending on how well everyone can work it into their setup.
If you’re a heavy Adobe Suite user or just like a more visual representation of shortcuts, the Loupedeck Live will definitely make your life easier. If you’re a live streamer looking for a sidekick, though, the Elgato Stream Deck is probably still the best choice. Overall, it’s a good work companion but not as useful for streamers.
How we tested the Loupedeck Live
I added the Loupedeck Live to my desktop at home and work and tried to integrate it into my life where possible over a few weeks. At home, I used it to control various aspects of my Twitch stream, setup and change scenes and trigger sound effects while live. At work, I tried to find ways to improve workflow and accomplish common tasks.
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