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Like many, I have fully embraced the work from home life. I love it and it'll be a factor in whatever future job changes I make. But it's not been without challenges — turns out I get cabin fever and need to get out of the house. But a weekly trip to the local coffee shop so I can work someplace else means abandoning the dual-monitor screen real estate I'm used to working with.
Portable monitors aren't anything new, but there have always been compromises. If it was thin and light, then the resolution wasn't great or it had hilariously large bezels. If the display is great, then it was huge. But now there are some options that are actually portable and good, and the ESR Kickstand Portable Monitor is one such unit. I spent several weeks trying it out and I am convinced that this is the future of working from home.
Display & Design
Obviously, portability is the name of the game here, so you want something thin, lightweight, and that doesn't require a whole bunch of extra stuff to just work.
The ESR Kickstand Portable Monitor is unbelievably thin at just half an inch thick, and is a nice large 15.6-inch panel with a 1080p resolution. Sure, it's not 4K, but for the size and price I'm okay with it. The 178-degree viewing angle is impressive, and while the 250-nit brightness isn't searingly bright, as long as I was out of direct sunlight it did the job just fine.
It's just as easy to set up in a coffee shop or airport lounge as it is to plop down in different spots at home.
Also, the bezels are tiny which is quite impressive and, I'd argue, necessary for something like this to work. The chin is a bit larger than the rest but it's not unbearable or distracting. I could even argue it's a bonus, raising the screen to closer to the same level as on my laptop. Being thin, light, and unobtrusive is really all I wanted from this, and there it succeeds. It's just as easy to set up in a coffee shop or airport lounge as it is to plop down in different spots at home.
The whole display is wrapped in a slab of aluminum, only broken up on the back side by the kickstand. That kickstand does more than just prop it up, it also rotates to allow support in landscape or portrait orientations. Though that does get to one of the frustrations — all of the controls for the monitor are handled by a clicking scroll when on the kickstand and it is pretty annoying and to reach around and fiddle with a wheel out of site every time you want to adjust something. ESR tried to mitigate this by automatically saving settings for each device you plug into it, and while this did work, it doesn't change the awkwardness of the wheel's placement and action.
Surprisingly, there is also a built-in speaker. Unsurprisingly, the built-in speaker is pretty awful. It's marginally useful in a pinch, but anything you plug into this will almost certainly have better speakers of its own.
To keep the monitor so thin, ESR put all of the ports into the kickstand, which I think was really smart. There are 2 USB-C ports, a mini-HDMI port, and a 3.5 mm headphone jack.
Awesomely, the monitor supports power and display via a single USB-C port, so you really only need one cable if your computer also has USB-C port. That's a huge win for portability and cable management on the go. Of course, powering the monitor with my laptop's battery did drain said battery a lot faster. I'm on an M1 Apple MacBook Air, which typically gets phenomenal battery life. Running the ESR Kickstand Portable Monitor cut my battery life down to 6-8 hours, which was still more than enough for me. On laptops with less impressive battery life it could be a more significant concern.
So how does it actually work as a portable monitor? Largely it works really well. It connected to my computer seamlessly every time and kept up with my workflow. Once I figured out the settings, it remembered them between all of my devices. The portability of it made it a no-brainer addition to my work bag. Also, the fact that ESR includes a USB-C to USB-C, mini-HDMI to HDMI, and a USB-A to USB-C cable in the box (so you can power it if you use HDMI), plus a carrying bag, makes it a pretty darn good package.
I was skeptical about portable monitors, but the ESR Kickstand Portable Monitor won me over.
I was somewhat skeptical about portable monitors before, but the ESR Kickstand Portable Monitor has shifted my opinion. I'm convinced that this is the future of working from home and on the go. I love my home setup, but I also need to get out of the house from time to time.… but my productivity is limited when I'm down to one monitor. Yes, I know this is a first world problem, but I've built a workflow that takes advantage of the extra space and I work slower without it (or at least I feel like I do).
That's why I love this the ESR Kickstand Portable Monitor. It takes up almost no space in my bag, yet it adds so much capability to my workflow. And for $160, it's not a hard sell — either for the boss, or even on your own dime.
Thin and light
A second screen for the road.
Take this large but portable 15-inch monitor out on the road with you, with a 1080p HDR display and aluminum build. And you can run it off just a single USB-C cable connected to your laptop.