FlexClip Launches Resource-Rich Video Maker For Creating Stunning Videos

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FlexClip Launches Resource-Rich Video Maker For Creating Stunning Videos

HONG KONG, Aug. 3, 2021/PRNewswire/ –  PearlMountain has reported the arrival of FlexClip V2.7, the most current rendition of its online video creation platform. The most recent FlexClip is an asset rich and completely fledged video answer for people and organizations that offers a huge number of text movements, overlays, introductions and outro formats. Dispatched in 2006, PearlMountain has gained notoriety for chief programming that is easy to understand.

With the presentation of FlexClip V2.7, clients can browse in excess of 1,000 inherent message activitys and overlays with various topics, styles and tones to make and upgrade their recordings. FlexClip contains a huge assortment of introduction and outro layouts that empower clients to rejuvenate their vision. Clients can make changes whenever and control each part of their video from start to finish.

Create Stunning Videos, Flexibly and Creatively With FlexClip Video Maker
FlexClip Launches Resource-Rich Video Maker For Creating Stunning Videos

Users can simply choose a template, add media assets, and alter the soundtrack, text, filters and other video aspects to create professional-level videos. They can add their own personal touches when they begin with one of the templates in FlexClip. It’s a feature that, before now, could only be achieved with a complicated video editing program that came with a steep learning curve.

FlexClip is an easy-to-use solution for marketers, YouTubers, social media influencers, entrepreneurs and individuals that have little to no technical skills. The latest update provides a beginner-friendly video maker to easily produce professional videos that stand out. It also enables users to disseminate their messages quicker and more efficiently.

“FlexClip’s mission is to minimize the time and effort needed to edit a video, allowing everyone to produce striking videos like a pro,” said Lin Xiao, CEO and founder of FlexClip. “Our latest version delivers a next generation video creation platform, enabling anyone to develop professional-quality videos with drag-and-drop ease, meaning no more time wasted on learning, organizing and composing a video.”

FlexClip continuously optimizes the user experience and is responsive to customer needs. The recent cloud storage update is the result of customer feedback for a user-friendly way to edit video projects across devices. With up to 100GB of cloud space, users can work on projects anytime, anywhere, without worrying about losing files. The new animations, templates and editing capabilities in FlexClip are a measure of the company’s leadership and innovation in the area of video and multimedia technologies.

“We’re making video creation more accessible to everyone by providing numerous ready-to-edit resources and fully-functional tools, while maintaining simplicity as much as possible,” said Lin.

About FlexClip

FlexClip is a browser-based video maker platform developed by PearlMountain Limited, providing one-stop video services that can help novice users and professionals make tutorials, video trailers, explainer videos, presentations, and social media videos with ease. FlexClip is used and loved by millions of people around the globe. Connect with FlexClip on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

 View original content to download multimedia:https://www.Prnewswire.Com/news-releases/flexclip-launches-resource-rich-video-maker-for-creating-stunning-videos-301344254.Html

SOURCE PearlMountain Limited

AI Copywriting: Does It Work? We Tested 7 Of The Top Softwares So You Don’t Have To (With Samples From Each)

Using ‘deep learning’ and ‘natural language processing’, it can write anything from simple digital ad copy to long-form pieces such as blogs and articles. Or so it says.

As someone who makes a living as a content writer, I find myself deeply intrigued. Can software really be that good? As you might imagine, I’m a little bit skeptical.

I’m open to the idea that AI writing software could produce short-form content rather well. I also know from first-hand experience that writing and SEO software is often super helpful for polishing final drafts. It tidies up grammar, or technically improves your content for search results. Grammarly is a well-known provider in this space.

But my intuition says that AI couldn’t produce original or creative content at the equivalent level of an experienced human writer. Not when it comes to anything more complex than simple adverts or a basic and factual blog.

Mind you, after reading this article and checking out the AI-written blog post it refers to, perhaps it might be better than I’m anticipating!

I’m aware that there are many entrepreneurs and small business owners out there who don’t have the budget to regularly hire writers. A software program might be a viable alternative for someone who is single-handedly running a business. Or perhaps you’re in a pressurized marketing team that could really use help getting content drafts started to save some time. Also, not every writing requirement is that complex.

Apparently there are a number of well-known businesses already using it, including Alibaba for product descriptions, or Associated Press for simple articles like announcing game scores. That’s not exactly the same scenario as handing over all of your brand’s marketing content creation to an AI writer though…

Let’s start off with some typical challenges I have as a human writer. There are some things in the list which I think AI writing software it might actually do quite well, like pull together concise research by scanning the internet quickly, or adding in keywords for SEO. I also suspect there will be several shortcomings requiring human intervention.

I’m going to try out five well-known and affordable AI writing programs for myself using a few different content types.

You’ll get to see how the actual results pan out!Skip To What You Need: Challenges For Content Writers

My personal experience as a writer covers both B2C and B2B audiences, using both creative and technical styles of writing. I work mostly with long-form article content, evergreen website content and product descriptions.

My writing can be inspiring women to purchase a luxury beauty product from an aspirational brand, advising tourists what to do on holiday, or convincing business owners that they’d benefit from purchasing particular software or retail stock. It varies quite widely.

Here are some of the typical challenges I contend with when producing any long-form content or product description:Understanding the goal – I have to read briefs, consider the overall goal of the piece and make sure I achieve it. There can be room for interpretation, I’ll have to fill in gaps based on my own discernment, or I might need to ask questions for more clarity.‍

Understanding the topic – There can be lots of information about a topic that I need to research and understand before I can write coherent and informed content within the requested word count. If the word count is quite limited, I’ll need to be selective about what contextual information to include or omit.‍

Clarity of message – This relates to understanding the aim and the topic and then being clear about what I’m saying. My writing must obviously make logical sense, be easy to follow, and I can’t use conflicting information. I have to use a structure so that information flows with human logic and helps the reader easily follow the thread of thought or develop their understanding.‍

Incorporating brand messaging, USPs and calls to action – This needs to be done naturally. It’s an important part of developing unique and on-brand content that stands out against competitors. I also regularly need to mention specific products, link to more company content, and lead up to relevant calls to action.‍

Relating products or services to needs and benefits – I have to tie customer challenges or desires to the particular product or solution on offer, demonstrating an understanding of the typical customer’s needs and drivers. This can take a bit of creativity when it’s less factual subject matter, such as associations for the scent of a perfume and feelings it might evoke.‍

Opinion-based slants, or original ideas – I can be asked to produce an article that takes a selective view and opinion-based stance on a topic that resonates more with one human belief system over another (audience targeting).

The same goes for finding unique ideas or conclusions – I need to consider different human perspectives and how information could be interpreted differently. And when it comes to writing great original copy that improves SEO performance, that takes quite a bit of human creativity.‍

Adapting the tone of voice – The tone of voice I use across businesses (or even across articles for the same business) will vary depending on the brand identity and guidelines, target audience, subject matter, publishing platform and the goal of the piece.

This is really important for connecting with the reader based on why and where they might be reading the content.‍Choosing wording and using nuance – Same as above, I need to choose wording that connects with the target audience. I have to meet them at their typical level of understanding with phrasing or terminology that will resonate with them.

Sometimes it requires nuance and subtlety, using suggestion, connotation or emotive wording in order to be influential.‍Incorporating SEO techniques – It can take me a little time at the end of an article to go through it and see where I can fit in more keywords, add backlinks and more content suggestions, or make my writing more reader-friendly.

You can’t forget that content is ultimately for humans and not search engine bots, so it still needs to read naturally after incorporating these elements.‍Using general discernment – For example, when I’m adding hyperlinks where the reader might need more information or context. I have to use discernment regarding the information I link to and how that sits with the brand. I wouldn’t link to a competitor website or an organization with conflicting values.

And of course, this doesn’t include the strategic aspects of deciding what content to write and where to publish it in order to engage specific audiences at different points in the sales funnel. That’s another specialism in it’s own! However, martech can still be very helpful in that sphere by providing data such as engagement statistics, keyword volume research or trending topics.

Before we proceed, a quick note about language and translations. Having worked in organizations that translate English copy for international target audiences, I know that AI-generated translations rarely deliver adequate copy. English doesn’t translate literally into other languages without the human ability to interpret and rephrase or paraphrase correctly for the specific language. Combining that with my distinct lack of foreign language skill, I’ll be focusing on English content only.

So with no further ado, let’s see how AI writers measure up against these content writing challenges.

Let’s Take Some AI Writing Software For a Spin!

Here’s a summary for seven platforms I tried out using free trials.

Hopefully this gives a relatively fair reflection of the AI writing capability out there. I’ve also listed more providers that offer free trials in the next section.

Don’t just take my word for it – definitely try them out for yourself! ‍1. AI Writer

AI writer can generate articles or reword text for $19 per month on their basic plan.Article generator – This is a very basic interface that works by inserting the heading of an article. That’s the only input you can give it. You’ll have to take whatever it decides to give you in terms of content and word count. (You’ll be given the article in two versions – one with the sources, and one without.)Text rewording – This lets you insert articles you’ve already written, and the AI will reword and optimize it for you. You need to provide a headline to guide the rewording. (Note that this won’t work for summarized text such as bullet points in a brief.)

So AI Writer is really just for generating blogs and articles. However, if you’ve already written some ad copy, webpage content or product descriptions, you could run them through the rewording tool for alternative versions to choose from. Or you could create unique versions of competitors’ content.

I asked it to write an article with the title of Half Past Nine’s last insights article, which was ‘iOS 15 Update: Email Marketing Is Up Next On Apple’S Privacy Conquest’.

Here’s the opening paragraph it gave me:

“According to EA and DICE, Battlefield 2042 will have three distinct and outstanding multiplayer experiences, and Battle Royale is not one of them. The first is Out of War, described as the next generation of Conquest, a game-changing mode we’ve seen before in the Battlefield franchise.”

Okay… That has absolutely nothing to do with email marketing. And there were no headings or logical structure. It did go on to mention email marketing aspects, but it in no way answered the title proposition. So we’re not off to a great start.

There were also issues when I asked it to write an article using the title ‘Can AI Software Write Marketing Content?’ Here’s an excerpt:

“It is hard to overlook the hype surrounding AI-based text generation in the field of content marketing, where a variety of tools are used for everyday tasks. For journalists, it doesn’t matter what comes next, it’s with some fear that we’re calling up some of the top tools used to generate articles and blogs with the most relevant words (ahem, training writers, switching). Check out our article on how AI applications can speed up content creation to learn about the various AI-driven content marketing tools that make life easier for content marketers.”

It doesn’t make sense, and it’s pretty safe to say I wouldn’t use much of the text in a final article. It would take me a bit of time to rework it into something coherent and supplement it with my own research.

Perhaps the topics I’m setting are a bit complex. To test something simpler, I asked it to reword some basic ad copy. I asked it to reword two simple sentences for buy 1 get 1 free pizzas at Pizza Hut. Here’s what it returned:

“Buy 1 and get 1 free at Pizza Hut. Buy 1 and get 1 FREE at Pizza Huts, a chain that has been around for more than 50 years.”

Again, this is not adequate marketing copy that I could just copy, paste and publish.2. WordAi

WordAi is not a content generator per se. It’s a basic interface that ‘spins’ existing content into more unique versions.

Spinning can be useful for repurposing old content or a competitor’s content for your own business, and creating more content variations for SEO purposes. For example, if you have a product in multiple size or color variations, you could write multiple unique product descriptions to improve SEO performance.

WordAi is available for the equivalent of $29 a month if you pay annually, or $49.95 for a monthly subscription.

Using this article, I pasted it into the WordAi spinning tool. Here are the opening lines of the ‘super unique spin’ it gave me, with ‘WordAI Uniqueness of 83%’:

“It is certainly the very last thing we needed in addition to Covid-19 as well as the danger of snap lockdowns looming overhead. But on the other hand, we’re seeing continued customer need as pressured parents start looking for more ways to keep children entertained in your home. In case you’ve been able to place orders to the inventory which you want, you may also be coping with doubt about getting deliveries on schedule. Then there is the dilemma about how much of this cost climbs you are able to pass on to clients while maintaining retail prices workable.”

Oh dear. It was all given to me in one giant paragraph of relative gibberish with no coherent structure. Perhaps you could keep producing more spin versions until you got some useful sentences to extract.

Swiftly moving on…3. Writesonic

Writesconic offers a whole range of content type options, from digital ad copy and social media copy to e-commerce, website and article copy. It can also provide copy in 8 international languages.

A Starter subscription is just $10 a month!

There are 6 main content categories to choose from. It’s then narrowed down into specific platforms or content types, like Facebook Ads, Product Descriptions, Landing Pages or AI Article Writer.

I really like that it provides these specific content type options! This is definitely more along the lines of what I would expect to see from an AI writing tool that can genuinely support production of a full spectrum of marketing content tailored for specific channels.

I selected the Blog Intro Generation option first, and fed it the title ‘Can AI software replace content writers?’. It then gave me 5 intros to choose from. They were all reasonable enough, although four would still require a bit of editing. This one was definitely the best:

“AI software is the latest buzzword in the content marketing world.

As AI continues to evolve, many influential marketers predict that AI will replace content writers in the near future.

But is that true? And if it is, should you be worried?

In this article, we explore the topic of AI and content marketing.”

I gave the Facebook Ad generator a go next. Here’s what I entered:

It generated 5 text options to choose from, presenting them visually with the option to download the text. The first two you can see below:

I generated a few more tweaking the inputs slightly, and the results actually weren’t terrible.

So how does it perform writing a whole article?

First, it generated 5 potential article outlines for me to choose from. As with the others I’ve tried so far, you can’t set word count parameters. Here were the final inputs I selected:

It gave me just over 570 words, but it didn’t quite make sense unfortunately. Here’s a sample:

‍I’m a little disappointed it didn’t do better on the article as I was holding out more hope for this one. However, it might still be a worthwhile tool if you want help generating multiple ad copy options, or short and simple social media posts.4. Article Forge

As the name suggests, Article Forge is for generating articles. It features a choice of 6 European languages, integrates easily with your WordPress site and can schedule publishing for you. There’s also an API integrator for other CMS platforms.

You can get Article Forge for the equivalent of $27 monthly if you pay annually, or $57 with a monthly subscription.

I’m excited to see that Article Forge offers more control over the content length and uses keyword for inputs. As per the screen shot below, you choose your primary and secondary keywords, article length, and if you’d like links added. It has an integration with WordAi to add ‘spinning’ options to choose from, plus it can add images and videos.

Here’s what I put in:

Here’s a sample of what I got back:

Hmm. It definitely lacks a coherent or logical narrative, and it’s also a very dry read without any personality. No sub-headings are provided. But at least the sentences actually make sense.

I tried it with a few other subjects and received very similar results, all in the same ‘academic’ tone of voice.

It decided to use a first-person narrative when I asked it to write an article with a primary keyword input of ‘sensory and fidget toys’. Here’s the sample for reference:

It referenced a business called My Sensory World, even though I didn’t add that as a keyword. Perhaps you could treat that as a placeholder to insert your own business name, if applicable.

There’s no coherent structure, and personally I wouldn’t use this.5. AdZis

AdZis was rated as the best ecommerce content provider in a review by Hosting Tribunal, so I’m going put this one to the test.

AdZis aims to give you unique product descriptions and original blogs and articles for Shopify. Note that these are two separate tools with different login areas. You create an AdZis App account based on whether you’re using Shopify or another ecommerce platform.

If you use Shopify, you can start with as little $9 for 10 credits. For other ecommerce sites, you can start for $19 for 50 products.

Unfortunately I can’t trial the blog writer as I don’t have a Shopify store to link to, which is required for creating an account. But I can have a go with the product description writer without connecting a store or uploading a catalogue.

First you select whether you want to generate from text or a URL. I’m using text to test it.

Next you need to choose a product category – one of which hopefully fits your product or it won’t work.

Then you select the ‘tone of voice’ for either social media, a product description or ad copy.

Based on the type of product chosen, you’re asked 4 or 5 questions to gain more information about the product. You choose the answers from a drop-down list. The options you’re given are by no means exhaustive, so if the correct information isn’t there, you’d have to select ‘I don’t know’.

And here is the final result!

I tried this a few times and got copy of varying quality. I’m sure you can reach your own conclusion.6. Copy.Ai

Copy.Ai starts off with a friendly welcome video about how to use their platform. Here, you’ll have access to many more input variables than the other platforms I’ve tried so far. You can also choose from 26 input and output languages (including US and British English).

For a solo business user, it costs $35 a month. Other businesses will need to get in touch for a custom subscription that meets your specific needs.

There are 10 main categories of content type to choose from with a whole host of content-specific sub-options. From ads and blog tools, emails and event copy, pretty much every content marketing need is covered.

For social ads, you can select for Facebook, Google, Instagram, LinkedIn or general. The Startup Tools section will even help you quickly generate your mission, value proposition, brand voice and mottos. Pretty cool. You can also feed it with your existing website content to help it match your brand style.

Starting off with product descriptions, you’ll be able to enter your brand or product name and a brief description.

If you select the optional checkbox to target a more specific audience, you’ll get 3 more input boxes to fill in.

I entered in my Umi water bottle information and received 7 output variations, which I could selectively ‘heart’ to save for later, or generate more versions of.

These are very good – all 7 variations have coherent descriptions with a variety of ideas I would use!

I gave it the audience targeting inputs of ‘fitness and outdoor enthusiasts’, so it’s great that it has used this information to mention related activities like hiking, camping and the gym. However, I am particularly impressed that it has gone further to create several user benefits without me providing these as inputs. For example, it states that the stainless steel product is BPA free, easily fits into backpacks, is durable and leak-proof, among a few others.

I’m anticipating some good results for social media ads and posts too, so let’s give Instagram Captions a quick try.

Enter a short description of what your post is about, then as with product descriptions, you can select the checkbox to enter additional audience targeting information. Helpfully, it’s actually pre-populated the main input for me from the product descriptions I just generated.

Seven caption options are returned. Here’s what I got:

It’s come up with a few decent ideas here that I could easily tweak or make more versions of, including emojis and a hashtag suggestion.

Let’s finish with something more complicated. How will Copy.Ai fare with some bullet points to create a blog article from?

I’ve created some bullet points from this article to test. I can enter a blog title and limited bullet point information up to 400 characters. As before, I can also add in the additional targeting options if I want to.

Below are my bullet point inputs:

And what I got back:

It generated a paragraph per bullet point. I tried this a few times, and the results I got were consistent with the sample above.

It talked about the toy industry or toy products but wasn’t completely relevant for my inputs, missing keywords that I wanted to include like impulse purchases. It doesn’t flow particularly well. Nor does it provide the source of any research statistics mentioned.

I could tweak the inputs and generate more versions to get more content I like, but the 400 word character limit for inputs is a little restricting. I’d have to work through my blog article paragraph by paragraph if I wanted all my key points included.

I’m feeling a little disappointed again. I could potentially pull some information from this content to help me write a blog article. But as with the other tools, I doubt it would save me much time or brain power for writing a well-structured article.

However, the product description writing capacity really did impress me. Having played with a few more features, I think Copy.Ai is overall the strongest performer so far.7. Jarvis.Ai

Last but not least, Jarvis.Ai is another multi-purpose AI writer for marketing content, giving you outputs for the wide range of marketing content channels, even extending to video content. Content is in English only.

Jarvis.Ai doesn’t actually offer a free trial, however you can pay for a month and request your money back in 7 days if you’re not satisfied.

The Starter package is $29 a month for 20,000 words. The Pro version is $109 a month for unlimited words with more features, and Boss Mode is the most advanced package at $119.

Start in the Templates section, where you can choose from the neatly organized content type tabs that covers a complete range of marketing needs.

You can select how many output variations you’d like, and choose your own tone of voice for inputs, which is interesting. I wonder how well that works…

I’ll begin with product descriptions. Here are the input fields, with the generated outputs on the right:

It also gave me a description with an ‘optimistic’ tone of voice that it had selected for me:

It the most natural and engaging human tone of voice that I’ve seen yet – so the tone of voice selection does actually seem to work! And just like Copy.Ai, it’s coming up with product features and benefits that I didn’t feed it, which is definitely really helpful.

I’m also really interested in the Creative Story option under the Social Media tab. Creative writing is obviously more challenging. So here’s a little bonus sample snippet using the witty tone of voice, just for fun!

It’s exciting to see a tone of voice function that does really work!

Moving onto the Ads section, you’ll get Facebook and Google-specific ad content, as well as the Content Improver tool.

Here are the inputs for a Facebook ad. My favorite output of the first 3 options was the last:

No complaints here!

Touching on the Content Improver tool, running some copy through it also turned out some high quality variations. This could be used to create more unique copy for SEO as well as help you improve what you already have.

These are certainly useful variations of the original content that could be published.

Let’s round things off and check out the blog writing capabilities. This is done via the Long Form Assistant tool, which you’ll need to pay a Pro subscription for.

Here are my inputs below on the left, and the content it wrote for me on the right, following on from previous paragraphs I’d already written:

I must admit, I’m impressed with this. It lets me select article length, choose keywords and provide a high-level brief. I can work through the article adding my own headings and prompts, and keep generating more paragraphs of copy as I go. And it works consistently with the tone of voice I started it off with.The end result far surpasses anything else I’ve seen yet for original long from content.

If you’re interested in learning more about how the Long Form Assistant tool works, watch a helpful demo video here.

I believe I’ve left the best to last with Jarvis.Ai!

Overall, Jarvis.Ai is similar to Copy.Ai in its content type versatility, but it takes the tone of voice capability further. That’s not a small thing – it makes a very big difference.

It also excels far beyond the others with the Long Form Assistant. You’ll need to pay more and still put work into providing article structure, writing prompts and brand-specific messages or links. But it will save you quite a bit of time filling in body content to a high standard. I think this is a much more pragmatic way of using AI for writing articles while still retaining control over the all-important narrative.More AI Writers To Investigate

If you’d like to explore more of the options out there, here’s a shortlist with a free trial.Copysmith – Generates multiple versions for different copy types.Articoolo – An article generator than can also spin old content for an SEO boost.Kafkai – Creates unique articles for SEO and affiliate marketing.Zyro – A website builder than can auto-generate website copy.Anyword – Generate copy for ads, emails, landing pages, content and more.To Sum It Up

I think my job is still safe for now!

The overall quality of content I received was a little lower than I was expecting, particularly in regard to long form blog content.

Long form content is one of the more time consuming tasks for marketers, and by the look of it, the need for human editing isn’t disappearing anytime soon. The tools don’t offer enough cognitive power on their own in order to remove the need for human writers at the wheel. Almost all of the blog content I generated required considerable reworking. Jarvis.Ai was the exception, performing better because of the superior input functionality and interactively working through the articles with you.

In terms of keywords for SEO, Article Forge and Jarvis.Ai were the only two products I tested that had keywords functionality. However, by the time you’ve edited the articles with Article Forge, you’d need to review the keyword count separately to check it still met requirements. Jarvis.Ai performed significantly better.

Starting off, I had assumed that AI writing software would allow you to enter more content criteria and parameters than what I generally discovered. Again, Jarvis.Ai was the exception.

You could purchase a cheap subscription with a number of these platforms to quickly produce more low-effort content regularly. That might potentially help websites quickly boost ranking to some extent (although bear in mind that Google uses a weighted range of ranking criteria). However, without a strong brand vision and quite significant human editing, the content wouldn’t be brand-enhancing or influential for a human reader. What’s the point of getting people to your website if they don’t get a positive impression and quickly navigate away without engaging or completing desired actions?

Based on the software I tried, I think the functionality provided by Jarvis.Ai, Copy.Ai and Writesonic would prove most helpful – and in that order. I’d use all of them for creating multiple ideas and wording options for digital ads, social media posts, or prompts to get started when writing blog articles. However, for original product descriptions and blog article content, Jarvis.Ai is the only one I’d pay a subscription for.

Jarvis.Ai did actually change my mind about whether a subscription with one of these platforms would be 100% worthwhile. I can see that it would save a writer considerable time in filling out product descriptions or articles without spending as much time on research or playing with wording. Of course, you’d still need to work in brand-specific messaging, calls to action and links to other relevant content.

I haven’t investigated all of the options out there, and I have no doubt that the overall standard of AI technology will continue to evolve and improve over time. Personally, I won’t be signing up for a subscription quite yet, but I will definitely be watching this space…

So there we have it. I hope you found this review helpful!

Before you go, why not check out more digital marketing insights from Half Past Nine? ??

Loupedeck Live Is A Compelling Alternative To Elgato’s Stream Deck

a group of electronics on a table

Life’s too short to drag a mouse more than three inches or remember elaborate keyboard combinations to get things done. This is 2021 and you can have a pretty, dedicated button for almost any task if you want. And if you partake in anything creative, or like to stream, there’s a very good chance that you do. Loupedeck makes control surfaces with many such buttons with a particular focus on creatives. Its latest model is the “Live” ($245) and it’s pitched almost squarely against Elgato’s popular Stream Deck ($150). Both have their own strengths, and I’ve been using them side by side for some time now. But which one have I been reaching for the most? And does the Loupedeck Live do enough to command almost a hundred more dollars?

a group of electronics on a table: Loupedeck Live creative control surface
 © James Trew / Engadget Loupedeck Live creative control surface

First, we should go into what the Loupedeck Live actually is and why it might be useful. In short, it’s a PC or Mac control surface covered in configurable buttons and dials. The buttons have mini LCD displays on them so you can easily see what each does with either text, an icon or even a photo. Behind the scenes is a companion app, which is where you’ll customize what each button or dial does. Many popular applications are natively supported (Windows, MacOS, Photoshop, OBS and many more). But if the software you use supports keyboard shortcuts, you can control it with the Live.

So far, so Stream Deck? Well, kinda. The two are undeniably very similar, but there are some important differences. For one, the Stream Deck’s only input type is a button; Live has rotary dials too. This makes Loupedeck’s offering much more appealing for tasks like controlling volume, scrolling through a list or scrubbing a video and so on. But there are also some UI differences that give them both a very different workflow, too.Hardware 

a group of electronics on a table
© Provided by Engadget

Like Elgato, Loupedeck currently offers three different models. With the Stream Deck, the difference between versions is all about how many buttons there are (6, 15 and 32). The different Loupedecks are physically distinct and lend themselves to certain tasks. The Loupedeck CT, for example, has a girthy dial in the middle for those that work with video. The Loupedeck+ offers faders and transport controls and the Live is the smallest of the family with a focus on streaming and general creativity.

At a more superficial level, both the Stream Deck and the Live look pretty cool on your desk, which clearly is vitally important. Elgato decided to make its hardware with a fixed cable, whereas Loupedecks have a removable USB-C connection. I wouldn’t normally bother to mention this, but it’s worth noting as that means you can use your own (longer/shorter) lead to avoid cable spaghetti. You can also unplug it and use it to charge something else if needed. Minor, but helpful functionality if your workspace is littered with things that need topping off on the reg like mine is.

Clearly, one of the main advantages with the Live will be those rotary dials. If you work with audio or image editing at all, they are going to be much more useful than a plain ol’ button for many tasks. For example, I wanted to set up some controls for stereo panning in Ableton Live. On the Stream Deck I need to employ two buttons to get the setup I wanted: pan left one step / pan right one step and it takes a lot of presses to move from one extreme to the other. With the Live, I can simply assign it to one of the rotaries (clicking it will reset to center). From there, I can dial in the exact amount of panning I want in one deft movement.

That’s a very simple example, but if you imagine using the Live with something like Photoshop for adjusting Levels, you can see how having several rotaries might suddenly become incredibly useful.

Another practical difference between these two devices is the action on the buttons. On the Stream Deck, each one is like a clear Jolly Rancher with a bright display behind it. The buttons have a satisfying “click” to them and are easy to find without really looking. The Live, on the other hand, feels more like someone placed a divider over a touchscreen. That’s to say, the buttons don’t have any action/movement at all, instead delivering somewhat less satisfying vibrations to let you know you’ve pressed them.Software 

a close up of a computer keyboard sitting on top of a table
© Provided by Engadget

 

The real difference between these two, though, is the workflow. I had been using the Stream Deck for a couple of months before the Loupedeck Live. The Stream Deck is, at its core, a “launcher.” Assign a button to a task and it’ll do that task on demand. You can nest multiple tasks under folders to expand your options nearly endlessly, but the general interface remains fixed. So, if you wanted to control Ableton and Photoshop, for example, you might have a top-level button for each. That button would then link through to a subfolder of actions and/or more subfolders (one for editing, one for exporting actions and so on). These buttons remain fixed no matter what application you are using at a given moment.

With Loupedeck, it’s all about dynamic profiles. That’s to say, if I am working in Ableton, the Loupedeck will automatically switch to that profile and all the buttons and rotaries will change to whatever I have assigned them to for Ableton. If I then jump into Photoshop, all the controls will change to match that software, too. Or put another way, the Stream Deck is very “trigger” based (launch this, do this key command). The Loupedeck is more task-related, with pages, profiles and workspaces for whatever app is active. The net result is, once you have things customized to just how you want them, the Loupedeck Live is much more adaptive to your workflow as it “follows” you around and has more breadth of actions available at any one time. But at first, I was trying to make it simply launch things and found that harder than it was on a Stream Deck until I figured out how to work with it.

This “dynamic” mode can also be turned off if you prefer to keep the same controls available to you at any one time, but for that you can also assign set custom “workspaces” to any of the seven circular buttons along the bottom — so if you want your Photoshop profile to open with the app, but also have some basic system/trigger controls available, they can just be one button push away.

This approach definitely makes the Loupedeck feel more tightly integrated to whatever you’re doing “right now” rather than a nifty launcher, but it also takes a bit to get your head around how it wants to do things. At least in my experience. With the Stream Deck I was able to get under its skin in a day, I am still reading up on what the Live can do after some weeks, and need to keep reminding myself how to make certain changes. As a reverse example, launching an app is something Stream Deck was born to do. With a Loupedeck, you have to create a custom action and then assign that to a profile you can access at any time (i.E. A custom workspace) or add that action to various different profiles where you want it to be available.

Both do offer the option for macros/multi-actions and work in very similar ways in that regard. If, say, you want to create a shortcut to resize and then save an image, you can do so with either by creating a list of actions to be carried out in order. You can add a delay between each step and include text entry, keyboard shortcuts and running apps — all of which allows you to cook up some pretty clever “recipes.” Sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error to get things right, but once you do it can simplify otherwise fairly lengthy/mundane tasks.

a close up of electronics

 © Provided by Engadget

Where the Stream Deck takes things a little further is with third-party plug-ins. These are usually more complex than tasks you create yourself (and require some programming to create). But thanks to Elgato’s active community, there are already quite a few on offer and the number is growing every day. Some of them are simple: I can have a dynamic weather widget displayed on one of the keys, others are more practical — I use one that switches my audio output between my headphones and my PC’s built-in speakers. Some of my colleagues speak highly of a Spotify controller and the Hue lights integration — both of which came from the Stream Deck community.

Loupedeck offers a way to export (and thus share) profiles, but as far as I can tell right now, there’s no way to do anything more complex than what you can do with custom controls — if that were to change in the future that could really enhance the functionality considerably.

Beyond the hardware controls and the user interface, it’s worth mentioning that both the Live and the Stream Deck have native support for specific apps. “Native” means that the companion software already has a list of drop and drag controls for select apps.

Elgato’s controller, unsurprisingly, has a strong focus on things like OBS/Streamlabs, Twitch and, of course, the company’s own game capture software and lights along with some social tools and audio/soundboard features (for intro music or effects).

The Loupedeck Live also offers native controls for OBS/Streamlabs (but not Twitch) but tends to skew toward things like After Effects, Audition, Premier Pro and so on. The list of native apps supported is actually quite extensive and many more (like Davinci or iZotope RX) are available to download. If streaming is your main thing, Elgato’s solution is affordable and definitely more streamlined for that.

The Loupedeck, however, is going to be more useful for a lot of other things — it’ll help with streaming, but also help you design the logo for your channel.So which?

At this point, you can probably guess what the wrap-up is. Elgato’s Stream Deck offers less functionality overall but that can be greatly expanded as the number of plugins continues to grow.

But likewise, it’ll always be somewhat limited by its singular input method (buttons). The Loupedeck Live is much more ambitious, but with that, trades off some of the simplicity.

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If you were looking for something that can take care of simple tasks and skews toward gaming or podcasting, save yourself the $100 and go with a Stream Deck, but if you want something that can pick up the slack for multiple desktop apps and tools, you probably want to pat your pockets a little more for the Loupedeck Live.


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