GeChic Portable Monitors: We All Scream for More Screen
The trend in electronic display devices has been toward smaller and smaller screens. Whereas five years ago, people were screaming for smaller, lighter, faster, we’ve actually seen an uptick in the number of people who want things, well… a little more expansive. The iPhone 6 Plus is a good example. Microsoft Surface 3, going from a 10" tablet to a 12" tablet, is another. Rumors of a larger iPad are on the radar; a harbinger that consumers now want some flair in their visuals?
Once you’ve invested hard-earned scratch in a mobile device, the last thing you want is buyer’s remorse. How then to upgrade your now-puny tablet, smartphone, or other portable device for a more agreeable viewing experience?
A company called GeChic thinks it has the answer, and has introduced a line of portable monitors that will expand your visual horizons, sometimes bringing you Full HD 1080p in a 13.3" form factor. The model the company sent us for review comes with enough hookup options to enable us to test it on a PS4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Surface.
First, some specs: The GeChic 1303H portable monitor is a Full HD 1920 x 1080p 13.3" IPS anti-glare monitor. Although there are other USB monitors on the market, this one offers a lot of flexibility in the connections. There are HDMI, VGA, mini DisplayPort terminals, and color correction (color, hue, and saturation) through the monitor’s controls—a definite improvement over other portable monitors where color control is handled through software. It is a backlit LED with a 178° viewing angle, and is capable of displaying 16.7 million colors with a brightness of 300 nits (300 cd/m2). Since some USB-powered monitors have reported problems with mouse lag time—and as you’ll see in the gaming portion of this review, any lag time is critical—having the HDMI connections puts this a mark above most portable monitors.
The GeChic 1303H comes with a microUSB cable, HDMI cable, and a power cable. It also includes a nifty little cover stand that serves two purposes: it can be used as a protective cover for the screen when traveling, and there’s a unique magnetic flap mechanism in the back that lets the cover serve as a stand in three positions—72°, 62°, and 53°. It can be wall mounted as well, and the total unit weighs less than two pounds, so it’s light enough to throw in your briefcase or satchel without burdening your shoulders.
After unboxing the monitor, I put it to practical use immediately. I hooked the monitor up to a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 via the mini DisplayPort. Having dual monitors for a tablet or laptop is crucial when doing graphic-intensive work like Web design or mobile app development. I used it to check spreadsheet data and found that now I may have to get one of these—I use two displays at the office and have become accustomed to the setup. There were no glitches or problems with the display, no drivers to install, and only a minor change in Windows to set up the secondary desktop. The color balancing was flawless as well; everything on the Surface Pro screen matched colors with the GeChic 1303H. The mini DisplayPort will also let you use this as a secondary monitor for your Mac laptops, as well.
Next, I wanted to see how this worked as a secondary display for a console gaming system. I used an Xbox One and PS4 as testing samples, since both have HDMI connectivity. Another disclosure here: I’ve used other portable monitors in the past, out of curiosity, and have seen varying results, from fair to middling. But the GeChic monitor, with a 1080p display and an HDMI cable, outperformed in the crucial area of screen lag. I played the Battlefield Hardline beta on the Xbox One and GTA V on the Xbox 360—not one hiccup to report, not one bit of screen lag (that didn’t come from faulty screen redraws that happened organically in the game), not one problem. It worked so well that I left the monitor attached so that my son could play while I watched TV on the regular TV in that room. It’s like an expensive alternative to picture-in-picture, but it worked.
Which brings us to another feature of this portable monitor that others sometime lack: although not super-powered and certainly not room-filling, the monitor has two 1W speakers integrated into the frame and, thankfully, a headphone jack for privacy.
Next, I tested the monitor on a smartphone. It is possible to hook up any phone with native HDMI or mini HDMI outputs. You can even connect an Apple device with a Lightning connector using this adapter that adds an HDMI port to your device. Or you could find something similar for an Android phone, like this microUSB to HDMI adapter. Once connected, you can view photos, video, and other content directly from you phone.
Another use that might make sense with this portable screen is to connect it to your HDMI-enabled camera, and view shots on a much larger screen than the camera’s viewfinder. Clients, models, and subjects can see the shots as they are taken, with much better and more accurate color representation than other USB-powered monitors.
GeChic sells other types of portable monitors as well. The GeChic On-Lap 1002 10.1" Widescreen LED Backlit IPS Touch Monitor is a size smaller than the 1303H we looked at, and only reaches 1280 x 800 resolution, but it adds touchscreen capabilities that might benefit app developers and programmers who are testing their work. If you want to step up from that monitor, the company makes the GeChic 1502I 15.6" IPS LCD On-Lap Touch Monitor, which offers Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution and 10-point multi-touch capabilities.
All in all, a portable display is like your first pet—you didn’t think you needed one, but once you’ve experienced it, you can’t imagine life without it. They’re useful and productive, and if you have specific needs that require dual visual input, then GeChic has a solution for you.