When you are looking to create a nice docking station for your laptop at home, to help break it out into a full system with plenty of connectivity and screens, you don’t always have the space to spread everything out with. Or, some prefer to keep things simple with a small footprint no matter the space. In these situations, normal monitors can be cumbersome. They also lift your additional screens above the level of your laptop monitor since they are on stands, which can be a little disorientating for some.
Thankfully, there are better ways of accomplishing a multi-screen docking setup for your laptop which is more like having multiple laptop screens next to each other. There are ways for converting tablets into additional screens, although this method isn’t 100% perfected just yet. Then, there are also “portable” monitors, which have really been taking off as of recently. We have been testing a few of these out recently to see how they compare to some of the laptops we make use of around here, and today, we are going to focus on one; The AMATAGE 15.6″ Portable HDMI and USB-C 1080p IPS Monitor.
Imagine if you just rip the screen right off of a laptop and slap it into a case that can also be used as a stand as most tablet cases can. This is exactly what these portable monitors are, with the exception of connectivity. This can vary between models, but the most common is going to be HDMI and USB-C.
With the growing popularity of USB-C and Thunderbolt 3, products like this are exploding onto the market due to how friendly they are. You can connect almost anything to these connections, and in some cases, daisy out to additional items. Both can pass data and power, allowing you to eliminate other cables (no power cable running to the wall). So of course, you are going to find monitors that take advantage of this.
So on this model, you have both HDMI and USB-C options to choose from. If your laptop (or desktop, smartphone, tablet, etc) has a USB-C port (that supports DisplayPort over USB-C), you’ll be able to connect this monitor to it with no additional cables outside of that USB-C cable, keeping the cluster of cable running everywhere to a minimum.
If choosing to do HDMI (which just about everything these days supports), there is a second USB-C port that is used to run a cable to a USB port on your system or a wall outlet/adapter, which supplies electricity separately.
Breaking all of the available ports down, you get one HDMI port, 2x USB-C ports (one for a single data/power connection to a computer, and the other just for a second connection for power if using the HDMI for data), micro-USB connection for accessories, and a 3.5mm aux port for audio.
It comes with multiple cables to make sure you can connect it to your setup, including an HDMI cable, a USB-C to USB-C for a single connection to a system that supports it, and then a USB-C to regular USB (USB-A) in case you need a second cable for power (for when using HDMI for data). So nothing should need to be supplied by you outside of the aux jack, or the micro-USB connection for accessories.
It seems to be a simple enough approach for adding an additional screen to your setup. It even has built-in speakers, which can be helpful when coming from a smartphone or tablet.
We tested this against both scenarios (a desktop and a laptop), and both connected just fine via USB-C (almost all of our systems here support DP through USB-C or TB3 support which typically supports all of the above).
Clearly, we were a bit biased with using it on a laptop best since it just seemed to blend in with that kind of setup. For PC usage, it was dwarfed by our monitors that are larger than your average user’s setup (although, they could be used as smaller screens on the wings for various specialty tasks like performance analytics, messaging, etc). Wherewith a laptop, it felt like having two laptops side by side, only with a lot more real estate to play with since you don’t have the keyboards.
The first we tested out was the HDMI connection and a plug to the wall. We were a bit nervous since there was a bar two-inches wide running down the screen where the image was a bit darker than the rest. Could this be damage to the screen we thought? Then we swapped over to USB-C and everything worked out just fine (must have been a bad cable or a bad port on that system). USB-C displays crystal clear and all of our worries floated away.
You can see them side-by-side with the laptop in the above image. The laptop features a 4K screen, while this mobile one is 1080p. At first, you can barely tell there is a difference into you get up close or playback 4K/8K media (and even then, it looks pretty good).
It does require some messing around though. Out of the box, the image is a bit dull and dim, so you will want to take up the brightness a tad and enable vivid colors within the menu (in our opinion). This alone balanced it out pretty good for us and we were happy with it. Even then though, it wasn’t “as bright” as the other screen. So for an IPS display, it isn’t perfect, as we usually find ourselves turning the brightness down on IPS screens, not up. Thankfully, we still had some wiggle room on brightness if we wanted to crank it some more.
Which leads us to the menu. It features a nice menu. You have a lot of customization to play with to get it just right. You can dial it down or change the RGB profile completely. Enable HDR and more. We just wished there was an exit button you could hit. The menu screen shows the exit button in its list/legend of controls, but the monitor doesn’t have a physical button for it. So there is some waiting for the menu to go away when you are done with it (would have been great if it was a touch screen).
So it does have a lot going for it, making it a useful device to have if you are looking to break out into multiple monitors. It isn’t as bright as we’d like, but then again, not all screens are as bright as the ones we have here. So for some, it might blend in far better than it did for us. Regardless, it still looks quite nice after some tweaking within the menu.
When it comes to connectivity, menu configuration options, and image, this screen really does look good for the money (when it is on sale). It is a bit much compared to what you can get with a full-size monitor from a brand you are familiar with, but then again, this is a USB-C connected monitor, small footprint, and with plenty of options. So price versus function/value, it seems decently balanced (especially when it is on sale). This gave it a lot of brownie points by us. This one is made to be user-friendly, take up as little space as possible, and easily act as a portable solution as well.
*Average price is based on the time this article was published
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I wish you could explain the way to access to the menu. I was lucky to access one time since then, I do not know how to do it again. Would you mind sharing it if you have it?
I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and informative. So, I want to thank you for the effort you put into writing this article.