Espresso Portable Display
PAT PILCHER gets his filthy paws on an Espresso Portable monitor and is amazed at how it frees up his on-screen life.
Going from a dual (or triple) monitor setup at home to making do with just your laptop’s screen at the office is a serious comedown. Multiple monitors are not just nice to have for many, they’re also a window to super-productivity. Being able to have my email client open on one screen and a productivity app (or even a sly game of solitaire) open on another saves a tonne of time and farting about.
Here’s the rub, though. Most offices simply don’t have spare monitors lying about. Carrying in an extra screen on your daily commute is also about as much fun as the inevitable chiropractor visit resulting from a week of lugging a hefty display to and from your workplace.
A bunch of clever Aussies from Espresso must have heard the pain of many a stressed office worker because they’ve crafted a superb line of ultra-slim portable displays that make going multi-screen at work effortless.
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I got my sweaty paws on an Espresso 15 external display, stand, stylus and screen adhesive. Design-wise, Espresso has pulled a metaphorical rabbit out of the portable display hat as their display looks stylish while still being hugely practical. Decked out in a slick brushed aluminium design, it sports a gunmetal finish, and the screen has a seamless fit between the minimal bezels and display panel. The design manages to be stylishly minimal. It isn’t just good looks either, Espresso has put a lot of thought into making it as practical as possible.
Measuring just 5.3mm deep, the display feels impossibly thin. At 358 x 256mm, it’s slightly larger than a piece of A4 paper. Weighing in at 960g, it’s significantly lighter than most other portable displays I’d previously tested. Much of this comes from it not having a built-in battery, which, given its office/home office-centric design, makes several metric tonnes of sense. Its super-slim, near A4 form factor and lightweight design, make carting it to and from an office effortless. I slid into my laptop bag alongside my laptop with barely any noticeable weight penalty.
On the side of its base bezel is its sole thunderbolt/USB C input port. There are no other controls or a power button (the display automatically switches on/off once it detects it is connected). Handily, this made for a near bomb-proof setup. After connecting the display to the Thunderbolt port on my Surface Book, plug-and-play did the rest, and I was good to go. After installing the free Espresso Flow software, I could configure the screens in mere minutes, which made dragging and dropping documents between screens and other useful productivity chores effortless.
Espresso also shipped the MountGo, a magnetic mounting stand that appears to be a super elegant fusion between a Magsafe accessory and an architect’s lamp. With it, the display can be tilted to near horizontal or stand vertically. Attaching the display is as simple as letting the MountGO’s strong magnet stick to the rear of the display with a satisfying “thunk.”
After attaching the bundled screen protector (which cleverly gives the screen a paper-like feel and rids you of any on-screen glare), I played with the supplied stylus. Signing documents and drawing with the display/stand/stylus is easy. Tilting the display to its horizontal position and using the Espresso stylus felt very paper-like, which is bound to please artists, designers and so on.
It isn’t just arty farty types though. For Apple owners, the Espresso display is a must-buy. This comes down to its touchscreen capabilities, which added a tonne of usability to my MacBook Pro. You must buy and download the Espresso Touch Software for Mac. Still, given its sheer amount of usability, I’d say it is money well spent. As a touchscreen, the Espresso display is super responsive. Gestures such as scrolling, pinching, and zooming worked well, adding a whole new layer of intuitiveness to my Mac.
On the specs front, the Espresso display sports a full HD resolution and 16:9 aspect ratio and, according to Espresso, has 99% sRGB coverage and a 60Hz refresh rate. Considering its super portable design, these specs are plenty for most productivity tasks.
I’d tested several portable monitors a while back, and to be honest, they were terrible. MicroUSB ports, clunky utility software, bulky power adaptors, plus a hefty design made them a nightmare to set up, transport and use. The Espresso display addresses all these issues to make setting up, using, and transporting it nearly effortless. For PC users, it’s a great productivity addition. For Mac users, its touch capabilities are literally a game changer. Add to this a visually pleasing and intuitive design, and the Espresso Display scores an easy 10/10.