Gamechanger is a word thrown around a little too readily for my liking, however sometimes you do find something where you sit back and think: wow this really has made a massive difference in how I live/work/play…
In this instance the scenario is work. Not always the most fun topic to write about, however in this current world of hybrid work, I feel some sort of duty to pass on a good news story when I come across it.
I hadn’t really considered a portable monitor as a “need” until recently, when it became apparent I would be working remotely for a few days every month or so, but not from my home setup. Most days I’m working at a 27 inch Dell Ultrasharp monitor in the office, and a day or two per week at home in front of my LG 35 inch Ultrawide display. Both are connected via USB C. Clearly I’m used to the 13.5 inch laptop on the company issued Windows Surface 3 in combination with something a fair bit larger. I can (and sometimes do) work from the laptop alone, however the thought of regularly spending successive days doing that concerned me a little from a productivity perspective, so I began to consider some options.
I tend to be one of those individuals who prefers to be completely independent with whatever tech setup I use, and the gear I carry to the office each day reflects that. Its a mobile lifestyle they say, and yes it is, however to me, packing up and carrying your entire work existence in a bag or two need not involve compromise in how you like to work. A benefit of this mobile lifestyle is the very fact that when an alternative location becomes part of the rotation, what’s in those bag(s) has already taken care of 90% of the work in preparing for somewhere new. For most of us who like to be in control of these situations, as you’ve guessed already — 90% is a full 10% short of where we need to be. So I say to you new location… is there anything else I need to close that gap?
As it turns out the answer was yes, however I hadn’t quite appreciated how much of a benefit the anything else would turn out to be. I also confess having stumbled across a review or mention of a portable monitor somewhere was the trigger to look into this a little more. It’s certainly obvious to me in hindsight, however for someone who plugs into a second screen every day — apparently the idea of a portable one for the road wasn’t coming without a little nudge.
Although I’m no tech reviewer, onto the product itself. Once I began investigating things a little, one review I found pretty helpful was on PC Mag, appropriately titled The Best Portable Monitors for 2022. In the end, it’s perhaps not surprising I ended up with the Best for Road Warriors/At Home Workers pick, and I couldn’t be happier. A far better job on describing the tech details and providing you product pictures can be found on PC Mag’s review of the monitor itself, however I’ll provide this for immediate context:
ViewSonic’s VG1655 is a cleverly designed portable monitor with some uncommon features. It offers a fold-out stand with a wide tilt range. A five-way mini-joystick controller takes the place of the fidgety buttons found on most mobile monitors, and the onscreen display (OSD) menu system lets you access a wealth of settings instead of the handful offered by many rival panels. And it has two USB-C ports—one for power and one for data/video transfer—plus a mini HDMI port. Its poor sRGB color-gamut coverage makes it best for working with text and spreadsheets (versus photos and video), but it shines brighter than most mobile panels. Its surprising wealth of features, including built-in speakers, makes it our latest portable-monitor Editors’ Choice, despite its par-for-the-course panel.PC Mag
The images accompanying this post are from the Viewsonic website, and paint the monitor in a far better way than a few amateur shots from me. There is one outlier however, and no doubt you’ll pick the Pete Denison original of my precarious looking but rock solid portable workspace.
I’ve come to realise in most cases when forking out of my own pocket for work related peripheral devices (which I’m happy to do by choice) that par for the course (in this case the panel/colour display) is generally more than sufficient for what I need, and my key requirements here were pretty much the following:
- display quality that was good enough: yep, it’s work as you’d expect, all text, web, email and spreadsheets… (it’s an IPS 1920×1080 panel)
- USB C connectivity
- a little larger than my laptop screen (here 13.5 vs the 16 inch Viewsonic)
- light weight (it’s a little over 800 grams without the cover or 1kg with it)
- multiple viewing angles with a stable base (it has unlimited kickstand adjustable angles and also stands vertically in portrait if that’s your thing)
- reasonable value for money in providing the points above
Overall, this thing is fantastic for what I need. It is seriously light, slides into the tote I use to carry my tech peripherals, has a screen I’ve never thought of as sub-par and simply plugs into one USB C cable for the laptop to power the display and transfer data. I haven’t noticed a massive impact on the laptop’s battery life, however it is often plugged in to power when the portable display is in use. It’s a simple set up, plug in and get to work.
Somehow the simplicity of powering and using this thing is what elevates the magnitude of my satisfaction. It’s one of those prime examples of minimal effort for maximum gain.
If we are talking effort vs gain, then I guess we also need to assess the bang for buck equation as well, which I think came in at a fairly reasonable level as well. The monitor in question was purchased online from Umart, and at $AU378.50, the benefit has been worth that many times over. Incidentally, working in a location 5 minutes down the road from a UMart collection point with 2 hour pickup available, is a very dangerous proposition when scrolling a tech catalogue…
Overall for what I’ve gained from this device, I’d consider it pretty good value for money.
As I’ve noted above, I don’t consider myself a tech gadget reviewer, and I’ve simply set out here to tell what I consider a success in purchasing a second, and extremely portable monitor for my mobile lifestyle. While that lifestyle mostly utilises two much larger screens in “toggling” my existence between home and the office, every few weeks the Viewsonic portable gets a run, and on more than one occasion I’ve found myself thinking ”wow — how good is this thing, I never would have thought I’d find it so useful”. That to me says it all.
If you are considering something to enhance your setup on the road, a lightweight portable monitor might just do the trick. This Viewsonic portable model might be worth a look, or failing that, a quick scroll through a “best portable monitor” post. It certainly worked (and continues to work really, really well) for me.