Portable monitors have been around for a while and given the times of working from home many of us have made use of them to improve our work spaces. There aren’t a great deal of manufacturers making portable displays but now Dell has joined the list with their new Dell 14 Portable Monitor.
As someone who uses a portable monitor permanently in my office as a second monitor I thought I’d check out the Dell 14 and see what I thought of it. Currently I use a no-name brand that I purchased from a no-name company a couple years ago but have constantly been on the lookout for a better quality monitor to enable use not just at home but also on the go wherever I am. Read on to hear my thoughts on Dell’s first entry into the portable monitor space.
Design and size
The display on the Dell XPS 13 laptops has been one of the best ultrabook displays for a long time. The Dell 14-inch portable monitor looks like they’ve snapped it off from a Dell XPS laptop — if it came in a 14-inch size. It has the same minimalistic design as those displays — small bezels and a very thin display.
As the bezels on the portable display are so tiny the screen itself encompasses most of the bulk of the monitor — this results in it measuring only slightly larger than the 14-inch display: 32.2cm wide and 20.3cm tall. Thickness is at a maximum of 1.43cm, which seems like a lot but that is including the stand when packed up. The display part of the whole package measures approximately 5mm (we measured that ourselves using a 1970s wooden ruler).
The rear of the monitor is silver to match your silver laptop/XPS and the front is black, just like on the XPS laptops. The rear is where the built-in stand folds up to. The stand is extremely solid and not flimsy like a foldable case that some of these monitors come with. My current portable monitor is a cheap no-name brand with a foldable case that flips from the front of the device while packed away over to the rear and becomes the same when it does so. The Dell portable monitor stand is on the rear but it does come with what appears and feels to be a premium case which is a felt-type material.
My current portable monitor is a 15.6-inch display and although when working on my desk I would prefer the Dell 14 to be a Dell 15.6 the smaller 14-inch footprint allowed it to be carted about with me in my backpack a lot easier.
Most importantly for a portable monitor the Dell weighs in at just 590 grams. It is super light — slip this into your bag and you won’t even notice it was there. It looks flimsy but the hinge on the stand is strong and sturdy with it holding the display in place at whatever angle you prefer.
The Dell 14 does only come with a couple of connectable ports and they are both USB-C — both of which can receive and pass-through power (and signal). DisplayPort Alt Mode is also supported. Connect the monitor to your laptop/PC (Monitor) and it will power on and be good to go. It was a simple plug and play monitor with no issues at all setting it up on any of the scenarios I threw at it.
To adjust the brightness and colour there are a few buttons on the left-hand side of the stand. One button turns eye-protection mode on or off (ie. makes the display warmer or colder) and the other two buttons turn the brightness up or down — obviously depending on which button you press. The right-hand side of the stand houses a power button also.
How is it in use?
The Dell 14 is just a 1080P display and operates at 60Hz but those specs seem to be the limit for big name portable monitor manufacturers. The display brightness goes up to a maximum of 300cd/m2 which was bright enough to use inside and out. When using the monitor outside you may have expected it to struggle but the matte display, even in bright sunlight, worked exceptionally well. I tested it with the bright spring Melbourne-sunlight directly on the display and was still able to easily see the contents — and that was before turning the brightness up.
The display worked extremely well in all situations where I tried it:
- Attached to my Hade Canyon NUC directly as a second monitor
- Attached to Surface Go
- Attached to Surface Pro 7
- Attached to my 2018 XPS 13 laptop
- Attached to a 2021 XPS 17
- Attached to an Asus CM3 Chromebook
In all situations I used it as a mirror of the main monitor and also as an extended monitor without any issues.
The contrast ratio of the display is 700:1 so don’t expect to get perfect quality media consumption, but it is perfectly fine for most viewing. It is more of a workhorse and less of a play horse. It does render 99% sRGB though so its colour accuracy is pretty darn good.
As someone who much prefers touch screens on all laptops and displays (aside from the large home monitor) it is a bit disappointing it was not touch sensitive. Using it with a touch screen laptop such as the Surface Pro it was a bit confusing and disappointing, but I got used to it — after all I don’t use the touch on laptop displays that much, it’s just nice to have.
The monitor only has USB-C ports so you may struggle with older PCs but given the variety of cables and adapters available on the market you shouldn’t have any issues finding a cable to get this working, as long as you can supply power to the monitor somehow. In saying that make sure it works with your laptop/pc etc before purchasing.
There are no speakers in this either but considering the size of portable monitors the quality of speakers usually in them is woeful at best. You may as well be using the laptop speakers, headphones or anything other than that. I have speakers in my cheap portable monitor and have never ever used them deliberately.
The Dell 14 Portable Monitor (C1422H) is an extremely lightweight and easy to use — as long as your PC or laptop/mac has a USB-C port or similar. The carry case does not add any bulk and adds next to no weight to the tiny 590 grams that it weighs.
It can be carried anywhere you go without taking up much room nor weighing you down. If you tend to use your laptop or work on the go a lot then this would be perfect for you, adding more workspace for you or to even mirror your display to a client/colleague while still able to maintain your social distance from them.
The kicker is the price. At $477.99 it is not cheap but is comparable and actually cheaper than many other portable monitors on the market from reputable manufacturers. For more information or to purchase one head on over to the Dell website.