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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  • themossie - Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - link

    For a cheapie laptop monitor with HDMI in, grab a Motorola Atrix Lapdock or Bionic Lapdock for ~$60, a Micro HDMI cable and a Micro HDMI female to female adapter (http://www.ebay.com/itm/280761232832) for $5... works great, and has lots of other uses!

    Only downside is weight, ~2.5 lbs.

    More details at http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1...
    Reply
  • jacobdrj - Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - link

    AOC has had similar products on the market for a while now, for a decent price. How does this compare to it? Does it change orientation via accelerometer? Matte or Gloss? Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - link

    Instead of spending $200 for a monitor, why not spend $79 for something that runs off AC power, and $20 for a power inverter, and $20 for a battery, and clump them all together.... lol seriously or just by a monitor that runs off DC. If you need a 2nd monitor that chances are you have either 120V AC or 12V DC power available. Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - link

    My thoughts exactly.

    This monitor seems to serve one purpose, a purpose which requires all of the following to be true:

    a) you have no source of power for it other than your laptop computer

    b) despite having no other source of power, you do have the space and a good reason to want to use a second display even though the laptop's battery will be drained rather more quickly

    c) packing a short HDMI or VGA cable with your laptop and your additional display which you are already carrying with you, is impractical for some strange reason

    d) you don't want to do anything particularly demanding with your second display, as doing so may well cause the system to crash or become unstable

    I'm struggling to think of any scenario whatsoever which satisfies all of the above criteria.
    Reply
  • euler007 - Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - link

    Looks like a good idea, Apple should patent it. Reply
  • Display Alliance - Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - link

    http://www.displayalliance.com/news-categories/201... Reply
  • Einy0 - Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - link

    Just a word USB - VGA Trigger devices suck crap. I can tell you from experience the are awful to deal with. Reply
  • anac6767 - Thursday, June 28, 2012 - link

    Could you guys agree to not suck off Apple for just ONE article? In the first friggin' paragraph you wrote:
    "While notebook hardware has steadily improved over the years, outside of the recent MacBook Pro with Retina Display there haven't really been any moves forward in improving desktop real estate in some time."

    and then:
    "This fact of life has resulted in a bit of a niche market in the form of small, USB-powered screens."

    OK, so your take is that Apple is (somehow out of the dozens of OEMs) the only company innovating in laptop displays. And yet this ENTIRE MARKET of USB-screens has somehow come to exist without Apple's blessing. Tip: not everything needs to be described in "Apples" guys, like some sort of ridiculous fantasy computing metric. Excellent laptop screens have existed since the beginning and are simply not advertised because manufacturers don't want to bind a panel to a model. This should change.

    Oh, and one of you has got it right with that x120e I see pictured in the article (refered to a an Acer for some reason). THAT is a terrific computing value at under $400 (I paid $325 for mine) and yet you couldn't be bothered to give it a shout out. Apple's what gets the clicks, right?
    Reply
  • killerb255 - Thursday, June 28, 2012 - link

    Server troubleshooting, especially one that doesn't have a monitor.

    ...still not sure if that would justify the price tag of one of these things, though...
    Reply
  • abirdie4me - Friday, June 29, 2012 - link

    I've been using the Toshiba usb monitor for a couple years, it is perfect for my needs. I'm a consultant and travel weekly, I just throw it in my laptop bag and take it everywhere I go. It works great as an extra screen to display my email or to compare documents side by side. I've had no issues with the DisplayLink software, just installed it on both XP and Windows 7 and it simply worked. Highly recommend this monitor if you only need it for office work. Reply

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