Connectivity and Conclusion
Now, you may be wondering, how does this particular device connect to a laptop?
That’s an important question, because laptops have a wide variety of video connections available. While more modern laptops often have HDMI or DisplayPort, older models might only offer VGA and/or DVI.
To get around, this Lenovo has forgone the use of display connections entirely. Instead, this monitor runs off two USB ports, which merge in to a single connection that plugs in to the back of the monitor.
Doing this widens the number of laptops that can use the display, because even the least expensive usually offer two USB ports. Better yet, this makes it possible for the display to function without any other source of power. Just plug it in to USB, and you’re ready to go.
One potential glitch observant readers may worry about is additional power usage. Running yet another display off a laptop could certainly impact its battery life. To see if this is a serious real-world concern, we used a Dell Inspiron 14z review unit and tested it with the Battery Eater Reader Test both with and without the external display.
As you can see, there was indeed a penalty for using the mobile monitor. Our test system’s endurance was cut down by about a third. It should be noted that this represents a very light workload, and I had the LT1421 at maximum brightness (because I feel that it’s so dim, most users will want to keep it there). Turning down the backlight would no doubt extend life, and different workloads will provide different results.
Still, while this was a significant drain, it’s not unworkable by any measure. If you have a laptop with excellent battery life – and you most certainly do if you are considering a portable display – you’ll still have a decent amount of battery available with this display plugged in.
The Lenovo LT1421 is not entirely unique. There are a few other competitors from companies like Toshiba, AOC, Mimo and more. Many of these products have traits that make them a bit difficult to consider, however. The AOC’s 16-inch panel size is too big, while the smaller Mimo monitors offer tiny 7” or 10” monitors at about the same price as the this larger Lenovo.
Perhaps the closest competitor is the 14” Toshiba portable monitor, which has the samp MSRP of $199.99, but is available for slightly less through online retailers. The Toshiba offers the same panel size. It’s also a matte display, and lacks the need for an external power source, though one can be added to make the monitor brighter.
However, the Toshiba is also 2.8 pounds with its case, compared to 2.4 pounds for the Lenovo. Thickness is roughly equivalent, but the Toshiba has a beefier bottom bezel, and the materials look cheaper.
Which should you choose? It’s a tough call, but there’s a small detail that makes the Lenovo the one to recommend – warranty. According to Lenovo’s website, the LT1421 comes with a three-year limited warranty. Toshiba, however, only offers a one-year limited warranty. Given the similarity between these products, this makes the Lenovo the one to buy.
Still, there are some flaws that keep this product from earning an Editor’s Choice. Display quality could use some work, as could the brightness. Considering the price, it doesn’t seem to be unreasonable to expect an extremely nice panel, but that’s not what is provided. If Lenovo can improve these traits in the next iteration, without making the display thicker or heavier, it will be a brilliant product.