Conclusion: Depending on Your Needs

What we're left with in testing Toshiba's 14" USB Mobile LCD Monitor is having to evaluate our priorities. If you need an additional screen for your notebook, there are certainly other options available, but the known quantities I can discuss are Toshiba's display and GeChic's OnLap 1302 (the 1301 having essentially disappeared not long after the 1302's introduction).

In terms of form factor and picture quality, I actually find Toshiba's solution preferable. The wraparound folio that turns into a monitor stand is a nice touch that's worlds more functional than GeChic's silly rubber blocks. While overall image quality is superior on the GeChic displays, their glossy finishes pick up dirt and dust something fierce, and their viewing angles aren't quite as good as Toshiba's Mobile Monitor. Overall, the aesthetic of Toshiba's product is cleaner and more professional, and I'm personally fine not having to modify my notebook to attach another screen to it.

However, in terms of actual performance and usability, the GeChic OnLap 1302 is vastly preferable. Unless you don't have any open HDMI or VGA ports, being able to use your onboard graphics instead of DisplayLink's solution means not having to deal with any of the quirks that come with using DisplayLink. The technology is impressive and definitely fills a niche, but it's demonstrably inferior to having an actual video output from an actual GPU.

Finally, there's the price. A trip to NewEgg shows the Toshiba 14" USB Mobile LCD Monitor selling for $179 (or $170 elsewhere), while GeChic is asking $199 for the OnLap 1302. Given that GeChic's screen doesn't have to license a chip from DisplayLink and doesn't come with a nifty folio cover, it's pretty easy to argue that these prices should either be reversed or better yet, the OnLap should just be cheaper than Toshiba's screen.

Ultimately what I'd really like to see is something like the Mobile Monitor that can also use an HDMI, VGA, or DisplayPort input. The DisplayLink monitors available on the market basically force you to use the DisplayLink USB input instead of offering it as a value add (or, alternatively, offering HDMI input as a value add). If Toshiba's 14" USB Mobile LCD Monitor had an HDMI input on it, this would be a clean sweep. Unfortunately that's not the case, and so it's going to boil down to what compromises you're willing to make. Both products are fine and will get the job done, but neither one is perfect.

Screen Quality and Performance
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  • repoman27 - Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - link

    Stupid phone, that was meant to be in response to the next comment. Reply
  • lead_org - Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - link

    Okay so that power consumption figure would be different, if you used a different laptop with different CPU/GPU package.

    So you only tested this monitor on a X100e/120e ThinkPad?

    Also, with my ThinkVision LT1421, i can power the entire monitor off a single USB port from the laptop. Can this Toshiba unit do the same?
    Reply
  • lead_org - Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - link

    How did you arrive with the power consumption figures?

    what you stated sounded a bit high.
    Reply
  • themossie - Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - link

    Agreed.

    For the Toshiba under load: 29.3 watts at 5 volts?
    It's pulling ~6 amps between 2 USB ports?
    Which computer (or common charger, even) lets you pull 3 amps/USB port?

    Even the 20 watts for the GeChic 1301 OnLap is pushing it (would require the laptop to support 2 amps each on 2 USB ports), let alone the 1302...

    Something's very wrong here, Dustin.
    Reply
  • silverblue - Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - link

    I'm not sure if this has any bearing on things...

    Added to the USB 2.0 and 3.0 specs in December 2010:

    Battery Charging Specification 1.2[12]: Released in December 2010.
    Several changes and increasing limits including allowing 1.5A on charging ports for unconfigured devices, allowing High Speed communication while having a current up to 1.5A and allowing a maximum current of 5A.

    However, from a product review of this screen on the Toshiba website, it states you cannot use maximum brightness without the (optional) AC adaptor. Is this true?
    Reply
  • themossie - Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - link

    Good catch. I've seen this standard, but not seen it (completely) implemented.
    3 amps is the max I've seen, and that one doesn't use any real standard... just shorts the data pins and calls it a day.

    Can anyone link me to a 5 amp USB charger? Or a desktop/laptop which puts out more than 2 amps/port?
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - link

    It uses that much power from the wall, not the additional display itself.
    Considering the gap between no USB display and idle USB display, I think it's safe to assume the additional USB display added 6W to the power consumption (increased load being more due to heavier CPU load due to the display branching off the CPU and not the GPU). So your whole 30 Watts at 5V is nonsense. :-)
    Reply
  • themossie - Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - link

    Completely my bad. I both misread the preceding paragraph and missed the "9 watts with NO USB DISPLAY". All I can offer in defence is that I'm not the only one to do so...

    Back to power - the monitor + extra system load draws an extra 21 watts at the wall, call it 18 watts (~75% efficiency PSU). Subtract 6-10 watts for the monitor, leaving 8-12 watts for increased system load in a test bed with (assuming i7-2637m) a 17 watt TDP CPU?

    I'd like to see CPU load figures while this is running, that's a pretty hefty hit. It's still 3 times the power consumption of a single monitor, which would be pretty detrimental to mobile computing.

    Again I suggest my solution posted a few posts down - which is cheaper, lighter, won't load the CPU or run off of the laptop battery and doesn't need questionable drivers (HDMI input) at the cost of 2.5" less screen size.
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Thursday, June 28, 2012 - link

    CPU load runs between 10% and 40% on the 17W i7. Reply
  • lead_org - Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - link

    You do know how much power a standard USB 2.0 can put out right?

    For comparison purpose a Lenovo ThinkVision LT1421 can draw a maximum of 5 watts under full load.

    http://support.lenovo.com/en_US/product-and-parts/...
    Reply

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