Portable screens, projectors & the rest

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by Agent 9, May 17, 2012.

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  1. Agent 9

    Agent 9 Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    I haven't seen much on the portable options to expand on built in screen realestate, so here is a quick run down of what I've found out. For the most part these are better for multi-tasking than to use as a monitor for watching movies on (though with a powerful computer it should play video quite well, though not as well as a standard VGA/ HDMI/ Displayport screen could, or as well as an expensive home theater projector). The main reason to get one of these over something else is the cheaper cost and/ or the simple fact these are actually portable meaning you can pack it in your bag with your computer with minimal bulk and weight increase.
    Onto the options:

    -Pico/ portable projectors will have limited brightness (an issue when used in a room with ambient lighting, darker rooms are not an issue) but the 'screen size' depends on the size of your wall/ desk or any flat surface and the capability of the projector, most use a pretty bright LED source for light but the rest of the system is basically a shrunk down version of whats found in full sized DLP projectors. Because of issues with low brightness, the pixel walk/ screen door effect common in projectors, very pronounced pixels, and need for a decent sized flat surface (also means others around you see clearly what you are seeing), especially with the cost to performance ratio these are not the greatest options for most people.
    *one of the cooler things I've seen done with these is using them with a Wacom Intuos as the projector back-drop so it is like a cintiq of sorts; and the ones used in conjunction with webcams and some recognition software to read certain things the webcam sees as key presses or mouse movements. Though they seem to be more parlor tricks than they are usable*

    -USB monitors; these connect to a windows/ mac (sometimes Linux) computer with a USB port or two, the computer needs to be powerful if doing faster moving things or watching videos (the devices are typically using Display Link chips so the driver processes data on the CPU and GPU then compresses it and sends it over the USB cable where the receiving chip basically decompresses it and displays it. For video playback Displaylink recommends a computer with a WEI for CPU and both GPU scores above 3.0). New USB 3.0 capable ones are on their way meaning better/ smoother performance and probably higher resolutions.
    Because of the nature of the data being compressed and sent over USB 2.0 there is some data that is sacrificed, namely the color depth; to the point that gradients do not display smoothly, but colors seem to be fine otherwise. There is supposed to be a max of 6 DisplayLink devices on one computer so you could really go hog wild with a portable multi-monitor setup if you have enough ports and CPU/ GPU power

    -portable 'micro connection' monitors are basically regular monitors shrunk down in size, with standard port types (typically HDMI, Displayport, or DVI, maybe VGA, usually using a proprietary connection/ cable)

    -There are of course the standard USB video docks that connect through USB 2.0/3.0 and have a displaylink chip inside and some kind of video output; these obviously need a device with a video input corresponding to that output (a monitor, or a projector)

    -The older cintiqs to an extent... too bulky and awkward to be considered portable.

    *You will probably want to use a mouse and keyboard setup with these if at all possible, of course if you have a Tablet PC you shouldn't have any trouble with setting it up so the external screen is the main and only screen so the pen & touch digitizer are mappedd to the external making it into a portable Intuos & monitor like setup. If you have a computer and a display device with the same aspect ratio and resolution then you may want to set it to mirror mode*

    Pico Projectors -
    The AAXA M1 & M2 are some of the better featured mid sized portables (decent brightness, XGA or near XGA resolution, assortment of inputs, though larger than the others) ACER X1161P & X1261P are among the decent featured large portable units; then there are the palm sized ones some of which have batteries that can last 1hr+, or SD card slots, USB only connection or VGA/ HDMI/ others through a proprietary connector, different native resolutions, brightnesses... there are many features that may seem overwhelming but it seems for the most part that the most important are resolution, brightness, and connection type, the rest don't usually matter as much (though sometimes a palm sized unit is the only option).

    USB Screens -
    Some of the models to look at for large-ish screens:

    Toshiba PA3923U-2LC3 - 14" 1366x768
    • 13.4” x 9.4” x 0.6”
    • 2.8 lbs [with cover?]
    • 220nits with optional AC adapter (on USB only there are two brightness settings, without AC it is supposed to be dimmer) 5W max
    • around $180

    Lenovo LT1421 - 14" 1366x768
    • 13.2" x 8.59" x 0.85"
    • 1.9lbs for monitor & 2.31lbs with cover
    • 220nits on USB (16 brightness settings, rocker switch control on back. no AC adapter option) 5W max
    • just under $200
    • See post below for a little overview/ review

    AOC E1649FWU - 15.6" 1366x768
    • 14.8" x 9.3" x 1.4"
    • 2.3lbs [no cover]
    • 200nits on USB (no brightness control, and not actually as bright as the others? [?]) 8W max
    • about $130

    AOC E2251FWU - 22" 1920x1080
    • 20.2" x 15.3" x7.6" [more like 2" thick at most parts]
    • 5.8lbs [no cover]
    • 150nits on USB [optional AC, required for full brightness ? ] 10W max
    • about $160

    Soon to be out:
    Mobile Monitor 'Field Monitor Pro' & 'Monitor 2GO' @15.6" and the 'Field Monitor Pro' @ 15.4"
    -these are supposed to be sorta like convertibles but with only the screen and no motherboard or anything like that (its only a screen), they do seem to have USB hubs on them and one version has a keypad while the other has a 'ipad dock port'

    All the rest:
    most are listed here DisplayLink Store :: Monitors

    Micro connection monitors -
    the only decent ones I've run across thus far are the GeChic 13.3" ones on newegg; but they don't seem that great being only 13.3" 1366 x 768 HDMi only, draws power from USB anyways, and not a quality product from a name-brand manufacturer.

    Oh, and if any of you have one of these devices or something similar please share anything from a short bullet points to a mini review of it here!
  2. Agent 9

    Agent 9 Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    @ Reserved post for review @
  3. jnjroach

    jnjroach Technology Strategist Super Moderator

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    I've been using the Toshiba USB Monitor for the past 6 months, It is a great accessory to put in bag if I know I will be working remote a client's site all day or traveling for business. On my Samsung Series 7 I'm able to run the monitor off of one USB port (even plugged into a USB Hub). Those of us who are used to using 2 monitors while docked at home or in the office, being able to have that same work flow while mobile is irreplaceable.

    • Double the pixel count on most new tablets and laptops
    • Reasonably Light Weight
    • Great Build Quality
    • DisplayLink Drivers have come a long way from when I first used them in the original DynaDock
    • Allows for better multi-tasking especially when working with complex spreadsheets

    • Full motion video is choppy at best or black screen at worse
    • Text isn't crisp
    • Screen is dimmer than conventional monitor

    Bottom line, if you are will to pack an additional 3.5 lbs in your bag for a true mobile office that still allows you to switch with one USB plug it totally worth it. Perfect use case would be Contract Coders, Mobile Sales, CPAs and auditors who need multi-monitor setups away from the office.
  4. Taikero

    Taikero Pen Pal - Newbie

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  5. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    Hm. After reading this, I thought to head over to DoubleSight to see if there had been any driver updates.

    There had. Like, just two days ago! Keen.

    The DoubleSight driver was always a little bit buggy. I'm just trying out the new software now to see if it has improved and I don't know how they did it, but one thing I immediately notice is that they've managed to create better color fade effects so that there is a lot less banding. Previously, the lower color pallet (it's 24 bit) was noticeable when you looked at things like the tops of windows, (which in WinXP fade from dark to light blue). Now it's perfectly smooth. Neat-o.

    Just as an aside, my single-core 2Ghz Tecra M4 is able to run this external monitor, (a DS-90U) on a single USB plug. For web surfing and video playback, it's pretty much flawless. (This is all with the GPU turned off.) Though, every now and then it hits a simple Flash animation which runs crazy-slow to the point where I have to turn the screen off just to get my mouse pointer back. Odd. It was obviously a bug. Maybe it's fixed now. I'll have to hunt around to see if I can find those pages again. . .

    Otherwise, this tiny monitor is awesome. Saved my neck. (Literally! My neck no longer hurts.)

    I never use it as a portable device, however. It's *mounted*. But it seems well-engineered, and came with a great little snap-on cover which looks to me like it would make it all-but indestructible at the bottom of a back pack. Weighs nothing, too.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 18, 2015
  6. nyb72

    nyb72 Scribbler - Standard Member

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    I've been experimenting with an Optoma PK201 as a portable screen solution. I'm connected it with many different devices from my laptop, to my Motion LS800 and even cell phones like an HTC Evo or Samsung Note.

    I love the travel size of the PK201, it's very compact, just a little thicker than an iPhone4 and about the same footprint. To put it all into scale, if I were to bunch together my Samsung Note with the PK201 and all the random cables and charger cords... it winds up being about the size volume as the AC power adapter of my high powered laptop (with its AC cord wrapped around it).

    For its size, it projects a pretty bright image. I have no problems using it to project a small 12" image in the daytime. However, anything larger than that will require a darkened room. I've used it as a monitor with my Samsung Note running Logmein to make it sort of a laptop replacement. The sharpness of the image isn't the greatest for small fonts, but zooming into your desktop is easy with Logmein, so it isn't too much of an issue for me so far.

    It has a ton of connectivity options... from VBA, to composite RCA, to Apple's proprietary connector, to HDMI (it uses a mini HDMI connector). The HDMI was especially appealing to me because it allows me to use cell phones.

    Battery life isn't very useful... approximately one hour of time with its internal lithium battery. You will probably spend most of the time having it plugged in.

    There are a couple of small nitpicks I have with the PK201. I wish you could charge it with a usb cable instead of it's wall-wart power supply so you could cut down on the amount of travel cables you had. Also, the focus adjustment is a rotary wheel that is way too sensitive. I wish it had more travel in it so that you could make finer adjustments more easily.

    The other downside to the PK201 is the setup with my Note where you just have a mess of cables. First, from the Note, you have an MHL to HDMI connector cable. The you have to plug in a usb power cable to the MHL connector. Then you have have an HDMI to mini HDMI connector to plug into the PK201. Then you have to use a power plug with the PK201. So, it can be a weird web of cables when you're done. So, if you're just projecting a small 12" sized image, I wonder if you're just better off having a small notebook.

    All in all, I'm pretty happy with the PK201. Plus there's a little bit of a wow factor of having such a small device project a large enough image for a room... that comes in handy when you're trying to impress people during a presentation.
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