Capsule Review: Toshiba's 14" USB Mobile LCD Monitorby Dustin Sklavos on June 27, 2012 1:30 AM EST
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.