Review: Portable Monitor Doubles Desktop Real Estate

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GeChic On-Lap 1301

Here's a gift idea for the mobile professional who has everything. Like something from the pages of a Brookstone catalog, the On-Lap 1301 monitor from Taiwaneese GeChic is an auxilliary monitor for laptops that doubles the desktop real estate of a 13-inch notebook screen without significantly adding to travel weight or computing footprint.

The On-Lap gets its power from a USB port on any machine running Linux, Mac OS X or Windows and works as would any external monitor; it requires no special drivers. A mounting kit includes four suction cups that screw onto a hard plastic frame, which hold the LCD panel in place. Once stuck onto the back side of the laptop display, the On-Lap acts like a mirror image of what's on the front. Anyone who has shared a laptop screen for presentations -- even with a pivoting model -- will appreciate how such a setup would simplify screen sharing for presentations, media consumption or gaming.

But the story doesn't end there. On-Lap's ingenious pivot design allows the panel to swing around without being detached from the laptop and be used side-by-side to extend the laptop's usable desktop space. The 13.3-inch widescreen LCD unit displays a maximum of 1366 x 768 pixels and is rated to draw about one amp. And when detached from the laptop, the frame turns into a monitor stand, allowing the panel to stand upright in a portrait orientation.

Across the lower width of the frame we find a cable compartment with captive USB cable and proprietary connectors for the analog (VGA) and digital (HDMI) cable inputs. Testers would suggest that GoChic place an arrow to indicate the direction that the compartment's cover needs to slide to remove it. And while we generally favor the resistance to stress-related damage that right-angle connectors generally afford, the HDMI connector on the included cable overlapped with the power connector on our test laptop. It was therefore impossible have both plugged in simultaneously. We also were puzzled by the use of proprietary connectors on the monitor side of the included cables when micro HDMI might have sufficed.

Apart from these quibbles, the On-Lap is a sturdy and useful device from a channel-friendly manufacturer that, according to the buy page of the company's web site, is still without a North American distributor.

We found the On-Lap selling at NewEgg for $199, including a pair of GeChic's optional Stand Bricks. These rubber-clad, heavy metal brackets are a clever way to prop up just about any tablet, smartphone or the GeChic 1301 itself when used as a stand-alone monitor in landscape mode. On-Lap measures 13.25 x 9 x 0.5 inches and weighs about two pounds with one monitor cable. it consumes about five watts.

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