You're probabaly well aware of some of the productivity benefits often associated with using more than one monitor at a time. Unfortunately, the impracticability of lugging bulky LCD monitors (and associated power cords) along with you during travel has mostly restricted multi-monitor rigs to the domain of desktop computing. Enter Lenovo's ThinkVision LT1421 USB-based mobile monitor, which offers uncompromised productivity for workers who are constantly on the move, at least according to Lenovo.
The ThinkVision mobile monitor packs a a 14-inch widescreen, matte display with a resolution of 1366 x 768. And thanks to USB video technology developed by DisplayLink, the ThinkVision plugs directly into a USB 2.0 port. One of the best things about the ThinkVision is its weight: just 1.91lbs (0.87kg). I was somewhat surprised by how light the monitor felt when I first took the unit out of the box. And I also appreciate its clean yet rugged design, which is characteristic of Lenovo's line of ThinkPad laptops.
The ThinkVision is quite thin, but it still feels solidly built. The display itself is protected by a detachable front cover that also functions as a base. As a testament to its slimness, I was able to put the LT1421 in the compartment of my laptop bag where I usually keep my iPad.
When you first connect the ThinkVision to your PC you must run a quick installation via disc for the device drivers. After that you can manage the monitor settings from the Display Properties option within Windows just as you would any standard monitor. Then you can just plug the ThinkVision into an available USB port on your PC and it is automatically detected and powered on.
I found the brightness of the ThinkVision to be almost as good as that of my laptop, though inferior in terms of color saturation and sharpness of the display. The performance of the built-in DisplayLink chipset was exceptional; to test it, I watched a movie using iTunes, edited a spreadsheet and scrolled repeatedly through long Twitter pages with my Logitech mouse. The ThinkVision was more than up to the tasks and performed flawlessly with no sign of image jittering or display artifacts.
Of course, the ThinkVision is not a full-fledged desktop monitor. For example, there are only two buttons at the back to tweak its brightness. There is no OSD menu or any additional controls for adjusting the contrast and image quality. Moreover, the display panel also suffers from a relatively limited viewing angle of 90/50 for the horizontal and vertical viewing angles respectively. But it does have a Kensington Lock Slot for security.
On the bright side, the ThinkVision uses just five watts of power, which can be delivered by a single USB 2.0 port. For older laptops that may not dispense the full five watts of power, the USB cable provided by Lenovo can be used as a handy Y-cable that plugs into two USB ports. Most modern laptops should provide more than enough power though, and I wish that Lenovo had labeled the primary cable instead of letting users simply try their luck with the two identical USB connectors each time when setting up--the ThinkVision only works when the primary connector is plugged in.
Ultimately, the ThinkVision LT1421 is an excellent portable monitor that performs as advertised. It is available from Lenovo's online shop for $199.99 here.
Side view of the ThinkVision Mobile Monitor
The angle of the ThinkVision is adjusted by the photo frame stand. Notice the grooves when the Screen Cover is flipped over and used as a stand; the photo frame stand works well when placed directly on a desk too.
My 13.1-inch Sony VAIO Z1 laptop stacked on top of the ThinkVision with Screen Cover in place
The 14-inch display and adjustable angle makes the ThinkVision an ideal companion with a 13 to 14-inch laptop