Once you go with a dual monitor setup, you can’t go back—or so the tech world would have you believe. While having dual monitors is definitely beneficial to your productivity, you can’t lug around a spare monitor to a coffee shop. Or can you?

Portable monitors have risen in popularity in recent years, but the quality is hit or miss. Zissu’s 15.6-inch portable monitor for laptops is a new contender in the arena. Zissu’s sent it over to Help Desk Geek for review, so we spent a bit of time with it to get a feel for how it works. Here’s what we found.

Specs and Features

The monitor itself is a 15.6-inch display with both a full and a 16:9 aspect ratio. The different ratios can be swapped on the fly thanks to a control dial on the side of the stand. It has a maximum resolution of 1920×1080, a 60Hz refresh rate, and a viewing angle of 178-degrees.

At just 1.7 pounds (or 790 g), it’s lightweight and easy to transport. The screen displays up to 252,000 colors. The bezels are incredibly thin and add to the aesthetic appeal of the display. It also claims to have HDR, but the 220-nit brightness isn’t enough for the effect to be apparent.

Zissu’s portable monitor is also well-equipped with ports for nearly any type of connection you can imagine. It boasts dual USB-C ports for power supply, audio, and video. It also has a Mini HDMI port, and a 3.5mm audio port.

The portable monitor for laptops is designed to be used in landscape mode, but it can also be set up in portrait mode. You should know that setting it in portrait mode will mean you cannot access the options dial or the 3.5mm audio port, however.

It’s worth noting that the monitor included an HDMI-to-HDMI mini adapter, a USB-C to USB-A adapter, and a USB-C to USB-C cable. It also includes a microfiber cleaning cloth for the monitor screen and the manufacturer recommends regularly cleaning the screen to keep it clear and dust-free.

Audio

Zissu’s portable monitor has multiple built-in speakers that, while not perfectly clear, produce better sound quality than many monitors on the market. If you want true clarity in sound, then a set of headphones plugged into the 3.5mm audio port will make a huge difference.

On the other hand, unless you’re an audiophile, the sound quality is passable enough that it likely isn’t going to bother you.

Performance

Now, to get to the real focus of this review: How does Zissu’s portable monitor for laptops perform? After multiple tests on numerous platforms, we can safely say: quite well. If you compare it to other IPS screens, the difference isn’t as noticeable. However, if you compare the portable monitor to a Retina display on a modern Macbook, there’s a marked difference in quality.

We ran the monitor through a series of graphical tests. In the gradient test, it performed particularly poorly. Even when viewed at a distance, the shifts between colors is pronounced. Lines clearly differentiate shifts in tone and hue, even divided over 256 steps.

The response time is reasonable, but not the best. Brights and colors create a noticeable halo effect around objects on screen, as well as a ghosting effect on some moving images when placed against a solid background. However, when tested with video or a game, the monitor performs quite well.

We connected it to a Nintendo Switch to try out how well it performed. In a high-intensity game like Skyrim, the monitor displayed colors accurately and had no noticeable lag or ghosting. It also performed well when playing simpler games like Gradius on the NES Mini. Despite the limited color palette, the game looked crisp and clear without a halo effect.

In normal usage as a secondary monitor, the text was crisp. Colors displayed clearly, but not perfectly accurately. However, after a quick color calibration using the Macbook’s built-in tool, the monitor looked almost as good as the Retina display, minus the increased pixel count.

Final Thoughts

So is Zissu’s portable monitor worth picking up? It certainly has a lot of strengths. At 15.6 inches, it’s actually slightly larger than most laptop screens. If you’re used to using dual monitors, it is lightweight enough to carry in a computer bag. We would recommend that you get a carrying case for the monitor to prevent damage to the front of the screen.

If you want to use it for gaming on the go, it’s a great choice. While it’s only a 1080p screen and won’t compare versus dedicated 4K gaming monitors, for $175 for a portable display (or one to use when guests come over to prevent screen-looking), it’s a solid choice.

Use caution if you plan to use this monitor for professional photo or video editing. Make sure to calibrate the colors to be work-appropriate; do not rely on the color settings directly out of the box.

In the end, Zissu’s 15.6-inch portable monitor for laptops is a solid, budget-friendly option for anyone looking to improve their productivity or gaming performance while on the go.

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