It was Wednesday, March 2. The iPad 2 was about to be announced or at least that’s what we were all expecting from Apple. No, we were not fortunate enough to be present at the media event but regardless, I was eager to keep tabs on the feed as the news rolled in. I figured I would watch one or two feeds and share the most salient points with all of you.
Then I ran into a problem. Yes, I suddenly discovered one of the limitations of my 13″ MacBook air. While the screen is plenty big, in fact the 13″ MacBook air has the resolution of the 15″ MacBook Pro I was using last year, but trying to watch two feeds, and write a post and grab screen shots was all a bit too much for the size screen available to me. There just wasn’t enough space for all the windows that I needed and I was stumped as to what I might do to fix it. Then I remembered earlier that day that I had received two boxes that I had eagerly been anticipating since last January.
In them were two of the new DisplayLink certified MobileMonitors from MobileMonitor.com. Judie and I got to see them in action at CES and were pretty impressed. The devices look like simple black laptops but open up to reveal that they are just a display with some neat built-in functionality that makes them pretty amazing. The monitors comes in two versions. The Monitor2Go is $279 and is just the display while the $289 Field Monitor Pro has a built-in numerical pad.
Because the mobile displays use DisplayLink technology they are able to function by simply plugging them into any computer. There are no drivers or software needed. You read that right, you simply plug the display into a wall outlet and then plug the USB connection into the computer and… you immediately increase your screen size.
The company behind the products, MobileMonitor Technologies, describes them this way-
A conventional flat panel monitor weighs 9 to 10 pounds. Monitor²Go weighs only 4 pounds. A conventional monitor is cumbersome and requires a separate case. Monitor²Go folds up like a laptop computer, and slips in next to your laptop for easy transport. A conventional monitor is susceptible to screen damage when carried into the field. Monitor²Go folds up to protect the screen during transport. In addition, Monitor²Go’s case is comprised of an ABS / polycarbonate blend with structural walls that are almost twice as thick, and thus more durable, than regular laptops. Most laptops have wall thicknesses between 1.2mm – 1.5mm, but Monitor²Go has a cross sectional nominal wall thickness of 2.5mm. A conventional monitor sits at a different eye level and angle than a laptop computer screen, making it hard on your eyes. Monitor²Go is a perfect companion for a laptop, with its screen on the same viewing plane. And for desktop configuration, Monitor²Go can be hung to match any desired eye line. A conventional monitor connects to a laptop or desktop computer using an awkward video cable. Monitor²Go simply plugs into a USB port.
I’ll be doing a full review of the mobile display but just wanted to give a quick look at how it saved the day this past Wednesday.
So there are I was. The media event was starting and I realized that the 13″ MacBook Pro simply wasn’t big enough for me to do what I needed to do. Remembering that I had the MobileDisplays at my disposal I quickly opened up one of the boxes and un-ceremoniously ripped the mobile display out of its packaging. I opened it up, plugged in the AC adapter and connected it to the MBA with the included USB cable. My screen flickered for a moment and then came back to life. When it did I had gone from 13.3″ of screen real estate to over 28″. Yes, I now had even more screen to work with than I did when I had my 27″ iMac.
Amazingly, I could have broken out the second monitor and added it to the combination just as easily for a total of over 43″ of screen!
I put the live feeds on the new display and opened my posting editor on my MacBook air. Then I simply watched as the news rolled in, added it to the editor and uploaded to the website. Fast, simple… Awesome.What was so amazing about using the display is that I had never actually set one up and yet I was able to have it up and going with in about 15 seconds. Nothing could be simpler or more useful. And in that moment I realized that this is an amazing accessory for anyone who uses a laptop on a regular basis. (Or who just wants some extra screen-estate.)There are a host of different ways you can use the Mobile Display thanks to the incredibly functional and unique design but I’ll save those for the full review that’s coming up in the next few weeks.
Suffice it to say, that I was, and am impressed by this product.