The Stream Deck dominates the LCD button by making it peripheral

The Stream Deck dominates the LCD button by making it peripheral

Like many great products, the Elgato Stream Deck wasn’t Exactly a new idea.

When the very first debuted six years ago this month, we immediately compared it to Art Lebedev’s iconic Optimus Maximus keyboard, which a full decade earlier promised a row of swirling OLED screens at your fingertips. Razer also pioneered LCD buttons before its time and stuck them onto a keyboard and the company’s first-ever Blade laptop.

But today we’re celebrating the simple genius of Elgato – the company that eventually turned them into a viable product by making them relatively cheap, convenient, and most importantly: peripheral.

Art Lebedev and Razer both believed that we wanted a new keyboard that transforms, replacing our primary computer input mechanism with one that intelligently adapts to our needs.

Even today, the idea feels great: “Why should Photoshop and quake Show them the same boring keyboard?” you can almost hear Art Lebedev’s concept art asking.

Left: a Photoshop layout. Right: a Quake layout with less used keys.
Image: Art Lebedev

Razer, maybe inspired by that quake keyboard layout, posed a follow-up question in 2011: “If your keys can morph, maybe you don’t need as many of them to play PC games on the go?” The result was the Razer Switchblade, a 7-inch concept handheld gaming PC prototype developed in collaboration with Intel.

However, Razer did not sell this one. The last “Razer Switchblade” turned out to be far less exciting back then: ten LCD buttons and a touchscreen trackpad embedded in a regular keyboard. If you look closely you can almost see a Stream Deck – but still integrated, not yet peripheral.

That’s why the idea didn’t stick. Razer thought users would buy an expensive keyboard ($250) or laptop ($2000+), lose familiarity with the input devices they already owned, and trust that game developers would support the new Switchblade UI. It also didn’t help that the keys felt brutal — stiff, flat, and brittle.

The Elgato Stream Deck required none of these compromises.

Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge

Instantly proving itself to be a purpose-built tool, right up to its name, the Stream Deck gives you handy buttons to control Twitch, OBS, and Twitter right from the start. (It does a lot more today.) You place it next to Her favorite keyboard rather than replacing it, and between that and the $80 starting price for the six-button Stream Deck Mini, I was easily sold.

The buttons on an Elgato Stream Deck in profile.
Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge

And the buttons, those buttons… soft, supple, inviting, each jeweled press like popping a piece of bubble wrap. I’m not saying it’s anything like the satisfying crunch of a mechanical switch – it’s a whole different delight.

Speaking of which… I have a little announcement to make, a treat for any stream deck owners who might be reading this story:

The Verge has its own official Stream Deck plugin that will pop bubbles!

Before he set off on a 2600-mile hike—seriously, he hikes the Pacific Crest Trail—my dear colleague Mitchell Clark coded the bubble-popping app of my daydreams, complete with sound effects. (He actually submitted it to Elgato on his first day on the trail.) It works with as many buttons as you want; Tom even tested an entire page of bubbles on his 32-button Stream Deck XL.

It’s live on the Elgato App Store, it’s our free gift to you, and you can download it now.

I’ll be interviewing the boss at Elgato in the near future and asking how they got these buttons to feel really good. We already know that there isn’t a tiny screen under each key:

The buttons are all lenses sitting on a single LCD screen. The more you know!

#Stream #Deck #dominates #LCD #button #making #peripheral

Everything We Know About Destiny 2's Season of Depths (Without Leaks)

Everything We Know About Destiny 2’s Season of Depths (Without Leaks)

5 things Google needs to do to avoid screwing up the Pixel Fold

5 things Google needs to do to avoid screwing up the Pixel Fold