These days many of us have dual monitors at home and in the office because we know that having a second screen dramatically improves our productivity. We can look at more content side by side or keep our e-mail open in one window while our word document is open in another. Unfortunately, when we hit the road we're stuck with single-screen laptops. One increasingly popular solution to this productivity problem is to use a portable USB monitor that can fit in your laptop bag.
Update: Check out our full review of the Lenovo ThinkVision LT1421.
Today at the Intel Developer's Forum, we got a chance to go hands-on with the ThinkVision LT1421, a ThinkPad-styled 14-inch USB monitor that Lenovo announced back in August, though it hasn't started selling yet in the U.S. At a brief demo at Lenovo's booth, we were able to see why the $200 1.8-pound monitor is already better than its leading competitors and a must-buy for productivity-conscious travelers.
This past Spring, both Toshiba and a small upstart named Mobile Monitor Technologies released portable 14- and 15-inch USB monitors. We like both devices, but each has its flaws. The 15.4-inch MMT Field Monitor Pro provides a better picture and a nicer stand than the Toshiba, but it weighs a whopping 4.2 pounds and requires an AC adapter to work. The 14-inch Toshiba USB Mobile LCD weighs a much lighter 2.8 pounds and it will run on USB bus power alone, but the picture is extremely dim unless you attach an optional AC adapter.
The ThinkVision LT1421 provides users with the best possible experience, as it offers what to our eyes appears to be much better brightness and sharper images than either of its leading competitors while requiring only a single USB connection for both power and data. We were not able to whip out a light meter or sit the LT1421 next to the Toshiba and MTM monitors, but a DisplayLink rep confirmed our perception and said Lenovo has made some enhancements to achieve the improved image quality.
Better still, the LT1421 comes with a sturdy and attractive fold out stand that has a TrackPoint red accent. A plastic base doubles as a protective cover when it detaches and snaps onto the front, making the entire monitor look like a 14-inch ThinkPad with its lid closed.
According to a Lenovo booth rep, the ThinkVision LT1421 is currently sold in China and to select partners in the U.S. Broad availability is coming in a few months, but perhaps not until Q1 2012. We can't wait, but until then we'll make due with our hands-on video and gallery below.