Introduction, Design and Display Quality
Can a Backpack-able Monitor Work?
I’m a multi-monitor addict.
My addiction started many years ago. I had a rather lame customer service job, and as part of my job I needed to manage spreadsheets with customer interactions while also filling in data on a separate, large window. To accomplish this, two monitors were required. I was amazed at the efficiency of the setup, and I bought a second monitor for home use within a few months. Now, I can’t imagine using my desktop with a single display.
Laptops, however, are a different story. Multiple displays can actually be even more useful for road warriors because of the limited resolution of many laptops, yet there are issues with using multiple monitors on the road. Carrying around even a relatively small desktop monitor is out of the question, leaving few options.
Enter the Lenovo LT1421. This unique mobile monitor has a 14” panel and, according to Lenovo, it’s portable enough to be carried about with minimal hassle. Has the company managed to create a unique, must-have product for mobile productivity, or is multi-monitor use with a laptop still a concept that’s better on paper than in reality?
In order for a mobile monitor to make sense, it needs to be really, really small. This is where the idea of carrying about a small standard monitor falls flat on its face. Though you might be able to fit a 15” display in a bag, it will be so thick and heavy that carrying it will be impractical.
Lenovo made every effort to avoid this problem, and they’re largely successful. This is one slim piece of kit. Though the visible panel is a 14” widescreen, the thickness of the display is only about .85 inches. In addition to this, the display ships with a somewhat cheesy, but effective, plastic panel that provides protection when the display is in a bag or briefcase.
As a result, you won’t notice much extra bulk, although it is there and will be noticeable in smaller bags. A messenger bag designed for a 13 inch laptop, for example, usally won’t have enough room. On the other hand, my backpack with a laptop compartment can easily hold the LT1421 and my MacBook at the same time, and the extra weight is not noticeable when I have both backpack straps over my shoulders.
To keep this display upright, a built-in stand can be found attached to the back. It swivels outwards, effectively operating like the stand on a picture frame. This means there is no height adjustment available, but adding that would obviously increase the stand’s weight and size. Lenovo made the right choice by keeping things simple. A VESA mount is also not included.
The panel on the LT1421 offers a resolution of 1366×768 and is coated with Lenovo’s typical anti-glare treatment. Reflections are not a problem, even in outdoors settings, where only the shadows of objects are visible. With that said, however, I wouldn’t call this display comfortable to use in bright rooms. The backlight isn’t strong, even at its highest setting.
Image quality is another weakness. Although black levels are fine, contrast is poor, and gradient test images revealed significant banding throughout the entire image. These downsides were visible in images and video clips as well. This is obviously a monitor that focus a productivity rather than entertainment.
Indeed, most laptops have superior image quality, which isn’t a compliment to the LT1421. This portable monitor can only really be recommended for text editing and web surfing. Attempting to edit video or create images would be a pain.