Many people use an external display with a laptop when sitting at a desk, but a portable USB display gives you the freedom to have this kind of setup anywhere. Espresso claims their USB display is the world’s thinnest and it can be set up in seconds by connecting a single USB cable to your laptop. An optional folding stand magnetically secures the screen and the software supports optional pen and touch functions, including palm rejection when using the pen and switching from landscape to portrait mode by rotating the screen. We tried the V2 version of the 15-inch Full HD portable USB display (courtesy of Espresso) and found that it can be a good solution if you can’t live with just one screen anymore, but you need to add some extras .
espresso Display specifications and optional extras
The screen attaches magnetically to the optional fold-out portable stand.
Espresso’s 15-inch touchscreen is just 5.3mm thick, with overall dimensions of 256mm x 359mm, and weighs just a kilo at 864g. There is also a 13-inch touchscreen version for $669, or a non-touch display for $529.
The optional Foldable EspressoStand ($99) adds 546g to the weight and the $69 EspressoCase adds 535g (although you don’t use them at the same time).
The espressoCase acts like a kickstand to support the display at different angles, but despite its name, it doesn’t wrap around the entire screen to protect the front.
The optional espressoPen stylus ($119) is only 14g and can also be attached magnetically to the screen.
Physically, the display is like a laptop screen on its own (without the laptop) with two USB-C ports and built-in magnets for attaching the optional extras. These include the folding stand or the magnetic VESA-style espressoMount ($79) that attaches to a standard monitor arm.
The bezels of the display are thin on the sides and top (in landscape mode), but the bottom is thicker to accommodate the built-in ports.
Adjustable espresso stand
Open the stand to the desired angle and then add the screen.
The Espresso Stand folds flat for easy transport and it folds out easily to attach the screen magnetically, but there’s no visible indication where to attach the stand to the back of the monitor – you just need it centered to place and feel around for the strongest magnetic connection.
We also found that adjusting the stand and screen to the right angle can be a little tricky. If you try to adjust the angle while the screen is on the stand, the screen will tend to detach from the magnetic anchor point.
Through trial and error, we found that the easiest way to do this is to first set the stand to the desired angle and then add the screen.
We experienced a similar issue with the screen coming off too easily when adjusting the angle on the espressoCase.
The espressoCase adds an adjustable kickstand, but doesn’t protect the front.
The initial setup was a bit frustrating as the screen contained no documentation, just a QR code that takes you to the Espresso website, where you then need to click ‘Support’ in the main menu to access information on how to properly use it. of the display and its accessories (while a link to the support page flashes on the screen when it boots up, it’s too easily missed).
Once on the support page, however, you’ll find what you need with sections covering all components: espressoDisplay, espressoCase, espressoMount, espressoStand, espressoPen, and the espressoFlow touchscreen software. You need to download this to access the auto-rotate feature and make it easier to adjust the brightness. You can download the software for Mac and Windows (both Intel and M1).
USB cable options
The ideal setup is to have a single USB cable from the display to your computer. But this may only be the case on laptops with a USB-C port that can carry a video signal and power (Thunderbolt or Mini DisplayPort labeled ports will work).
If your computer does not have such a USB-C port, but does have HDMI or Mini DisplayPort, you’ll need the optional cables for video and the USB-C to USB-A cable for power.
As for the display itself, it performs as expected and hWith a 15-inch Full HD display that you can take with you, there’s plenty of extra workspace for laptop users away from home or in the office.
The versatility of being able to rotate the screen in portrait mode is something you don’t get with laptops or even most desktop monitors. You can also customize touch gestures the way you want to work.
Espresso claims a brightness of 300 nits (we measured it at 264 nits, which is about the same as the screen on a mid-range laptop) and the display has a 60Hz refresh rate and being 1080p it uses a standard aspect ratio from 16:9.
With a 15-inch Full HD display that you can take with you, you have plenty of extra workspace for laptop users away from home or in the office
Brightness and contrast were good, with details in shadows and not highlights. Color may depend on your computer’s graphics settings, but we found the color to be mostly neutral compared to our reference monitor, which is fine.
The display has a glossy finish and reflects backlight noticeably in well-lit environments, but viewing angles are wide and there’s not much of a problem when viewing from the center (other than the image may become a bit paler).
Living with two screens
We like the portability and versatility of the display and accessories, especially the ease with which you can switch stands and rotate the display in portrait mode.
We found a few frustrations, from the initial setup to the on-screen display not always showing up when invoked, and the lack of text labels in the OSD menu and in the espressoFlow app.
You also need to sign up for an account to use the auto-rotate feature the espressoFlow app offers, and there’s a lack of documentation on the ports.
In short, it would benefit from being a bit more user-friendly. But overall, the 15-inch espressoDisplay V2 performs as expected, and its portability means you don’t have to give up the luxury of using two screens at once just because you’re away from home or the office.
It’s light and easy to carry, and the choice of a folding stand or a standard-style suitcase makes it a versatile and convenient option, especially if its connectivity allows you to get away from your laptop with just one USB-C cable to to connect him.
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