Big thanks to Desklab for sending over this review unit. I was only interested in reviewing this monitor because it's said to have good colour accuracy so I wanted to find out just how good are the colours, and whether it's suitable for creative professionals, for graphic design, photo and video editing.
Desklab Portable Monitor is actually a product from a Kickstarter campaign which was successfully funded in December 2019. As with any product from crowdfunding campaigns, there will be risks involved. So it's best to always do more research.
The crowdfunding has ended and pre-orders are now open to the public. The monitor is available in 4K and 1080P models. Prices are US $399 and $299 respectively, for the pre-orders (ending July 2020), at the time of this review.
Everything was securely packed in the box.
These are the cables included: USB-C to USB-C, Mini HDMI to full-size HDMI, wall power adapter with double flat pins.
Mine's the 4K unit. I read somewhere that the 1080P unit does not come with the wall power adapter. Anyway, the display can be powered by a USB port that supplies enough power so you may not need the wall power adapter.
The 2-in-1 protective case and stand is not included and is sold separately for US $50.
This is more of a case than a stand so it's not the most stable if you touch the display.
You'll definitely need to get a stand, even if it's not this one, maybe a laptop stand, because the monitor does not come with any built-in stand, and there's no easy way to prop it up. You'll want the display to be facing you as directly as possible when you're watching videos or playing games. It won't be good for your posture otherwise.
The case exterior is some sort of rubber or canvas material. Maybe PU leather.
The case interior is made of the same material but pattern is different.
Even with the case on, the monitor is still really slim, thinner than my 15-inch Macbook Pro, and lighter too. So this combination of thinness and weight makes this an extremely portable monitor that you can easily bring anywhere.
On the right side, the ports are Micro USB, 2x USB-C and mini HDMI.
On the left are the power, OSD controls buttons and 3.5mm audio jack.
Design of the monitor looks good. It's a clean and simple design.
Bezels are thin on the sides and top, thicker at the bottom.
This is a touchscreen and the screen is glossy so this is not surprisingly a fingerprint magnet.
I was able to power the monitor with just a single USB-C cable when connected to the Microsoft Surface Book 3. Touch works.
Being able to get data, video, audio and power with a single USB-C cable helps a lot at reducing cable clutter.
I've also tried connecting other devices to the monitor too.
With the Surface Book Go 2, that tablet wasn't able to provide enough power through its USB-C so external power has to be provided for the monitor.
Samsung Tab S6 was surprisingly able to power the monitor at 4K 60Hz. I was using Samsung DeX mode which is the desktop model. If you have this monitor, a tablet or phone that has desktop mode, together with a portable keyboard and mouse, you can have really compact basic computing system. Touch works.
The iPad Pro was either not able to power the monitor, or was unable to output video through the USB-C which should not happen. Anyway, I connected a USB-C to HDMI adapter to the iPad Pro and was able to output video signal to the monitor. Touch screen does not work with iPads and iPhones.
I've also connected a Mac Pro desktop with HDMI. An external power source is need since there's no power delivery through HDMI. Surprising thing is touch actually works (on MacOS 10.14) but it's the basic tap and click, you don't get finger gestures like pinch to zoom, pan or rotate. Maximum resolution was 4K but only at 30Hz.
With my 2015 Macbook Pro, I was only able to get 1440P at 60Hz and not 4K even though that laptop is definitely able to support 4K.
4K resolution on a 15-inch display looks fantastic. Pixelation is not noticeable when seated one arms length away. Fonts, palettes, menus, user interface all look sharp.
There's no issue with scaling on Windows. On MacOS, best scaling option via System Preference is the 1080P option where user interface is scaled to the size of 1080P 15-inch monitors but retains the resolution and sharpness of 4K.
The OSD menu is easy to navigate. Things you can change with the OSD are colour temperature, brightness, contrast, colour mode.
The colours look good out of the box. I did colour calibrate this monitor and measured the following colour support.
For User colour mode, it was 99% sRGB, 79% AdobeRGB, 75% NTSC, 82% P3
For AdobeRGB colour mode, 97% sRGB, 75% AdobeRGB, 69% NTSC, 74% P3. For some reason, under AdobeRGB colour mode, the sRGB support is slightly lower. Anyway, 97% vs 99% is not too difference.
Maximum brightness is 112 nits as measured. It's a portable monitor so it's not surprising the brightness is lower compared to typical tabletop monitors. This level of brightness is still suitable for indoor use. There were two occasions where I was able to measure 150 nits brightness though but I don't know the circumstances that lead to the increase in brightness, and I wasn't able to repeat the success.
It would be great if the brightness could be higher because the screen is very reflective, and the brightness is not enough to shine through the reflections, hence reflections can be distracting on this monitor.
So yes, the colours are reasonably accurate and it can actually be used to edit photos.
4K resolution is 3840 x 2160. Aspect ratio is 16:9. So when you play 16:9 videos, the videos will fill the whole screen without black bars.
If you edit 4K videos, you will be able to watch your videos at 1:1 actual resolution.
I don't play games so I can't say much. There's actually Freesync option in the OSD but I doubt it will work for this portable monitor. The best type of games to be played on this monitor would be console games that top out at 60FPS.
Oh, if you want run games at 4K, your graphics card better be powerful enough to drive all those pixels.
If you connect to an Android phone, you will be able to enjoy your games on a significantly larger display.
Audio quality was better than I expected. There's stereo speakers but the speakers are downward facing and located near the middle so you won't get true stereo effect. What I like is the clarity and the speakers are loud and clear when loud. These are still small speakers so heavy thumping music is not going to sound that good.
If you happen to want to draw on the display, you can use your finger. Stylus support is bad. Lines will break up into so many parts. This touchscreen monitor is made for fingers, not styluses. I've tried rubber tip and disc tip styluses and both don't work well.
Running the monitor in portrait orientation is possible. You just have to set your desktop to rotate from your computer OS settings.
This monitor isn't meant to be used as a main monitor simply because the brightness is not fantastic. For the same amount of money, you can probably get a 1080P monitor from Dell that performs significantly better in terms of brightness.
The main selling point here is portability. This is something you can easily bring around. It opens up a lot of workflow possibilities.
Having an extra display for your laptop improves productivity. You can work on one display, and have another display for reference. For my workflow, I can also use it to view the 4K videos I edit.
Another thing with brightness...
The other downside is whenever you attach the monitor to another computer, the brightness resets to default which is 3/10. If you use only one computer and you restart, no problem, it will remember the brightness levels. But if you want to say plug in your console, brightness will reset, and when you connect it back to your computer, brightness resets again. The consolation is brightness is easy to adjust with the brightness/OSD toggle switch on the left.
It's a good product overall with the only downside being the brightness which I wished could be brighter. I need to emphasis that the brightness is sufficient for indoor use so you may not have any issues with that. My room is well lit by sunlight so I need my monitors to be brighter.
The thing with having to adjust the brightness each time you connect to a new device is, well, inconvenient but not too irritating, unless you connect to multiple devices each day.
At the time of writing this review, US $399 (4K) and $299 (1080P) are pre-order pricing which will end of July 2020. Not sure what the pricing will be like after that. The price is on the higher side so only you can decide whether this is worth the money for you.
As with any pre-orders and crowdfunding products, it will be good to do more research. This is not the first time I've featured products from crowdfunding campaigns. Sometimes I get comments on my Youtube videos from backers who bought stuff that I recommend and came back to complain or to thank me. My review will not be complete within mentioning this.
I've looked at a few comments from the Desklab Kickstarter page and it seems like many are complaining about the shipping. The pandemic is still ongoing so that really affected delivery. I shipped something to USA from Singapore and it took more than a month. So that's some shipping and delivery expectations for you.
Pros and cons at a glance
+ Clean and simple design
+ Solid build quality
+ Up to 99% sRGB colour support
+ Sharp display, 4K @ 60Hz
+ Compact and portable
+ OSD menu easy to navigate
+ Good selection of ports
+ Can be powered by single USB-C if there's enough power
+ Touchscreen works automatically with Windows and Android
+ Good audio quality
- Stand not included
- Brightness could be better
- Does not remember brightness when switching to other computers
Where to buy
Check out the Desklab monitor website for more details, full specifications, latest pricing and bundles.