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If you’re the type of person whose work or hobbies have you traveling from place to place, or your living situation falls in the “tight living space” category, you’ve probably experienced a scenario where having extra monitor real estate could benefit you, but it wasn’t a trivial problem. Lugging around or even having the space to set up an additional monitor isn’t an option for everyone; however, there’s a convenient and portable solution that helps address this very problem.
This product review takes a hands-on look at the Duex Plus, a 13.3-inch portable laptop monitor designed by Mobile Pixels. This product is a portable monitor that attaches to your laptop and provides a second screen to increase the amount of screen space you have available.
In the spirit of full disclosure, we received this product from the manufacturer in exchange for a product review. That said, we at Corrosion Hour switch context from programming, web development, design, writing, and web content consumption all day every day–so we were fully prepared to take on this product and put it to the test to see if it could deliver on Mobile Pixels’ promise to improve our productivity while working on a laptop.
A little about the company
Mobile Pixels recognized that the need for more laptop screen real estate was not being met with solutions that preserved the key aspect of laptop work: mobility. Most products were bulky, hard to use, or required the laptop to be tethered to the same workstation. The Duex Plus portable monitor is thoughtfully designed to provide laptop users the same productivity benefits that desktop users with dual monitors have while preserving the mobility of laptop work with its lightweight form factor.
Why an extra laptop monitor?
Most people who use a computer as a focal tool in their workflow have probably had a workspace at some point in time that had dual, if not triple, monitor setup. You receive a significant boost in productivity by having more of your tools open and visible simultaneously. It’s a no-brainer.
But if you are a laptop user, you may not have that same productivity boon available to you. Having a portable laptop monitor opens up that same productivity opportunity while not requiring you to be at your work or home office. With the extra screen real estate provided by the Duex Plus, you can now work efficiently from anywhere without being dependent on your desktop monitors.
The Duex Plus is designed to work with Mac, PC, and Linux systems. To test out the Duex Plus for our review, we used a Macbook Air 13.3″ laptop. We did not test on a second laptop for reasons I’ll go over later in the review.
The Duex Plus’s most striking feature is its slim form factor on first impression. This little monitor is only 0.58 of an inch at its thickest point, while its thinnest point is merely a quarter inch. Weighing in at only 1.3lbs (roughly 590 grams), this monitor did not contribute much in the way of visual or weight bloat to our laptop. The laptop slips into its carrying case all the same, with the Duex Plus still attached, making it quite convenient to transport.
The Duex Plus measures 12.25 inches x 8.46 inches with a display size of 13.3 inches. These dimensions fit our Macbook Air perfectly without compromising the laptop’s stability when it was open. The screen itself slips inside the casing almost entirely when retracted, which does an excellent job of protecting the screen from scratches, fingerprints, and various other trauma when not in use.
A small button on the end of the casing unlocks the screen and allows you to extend it. I really like this locking feature on the screen. I can slip the laptop into its carrying case or carry it around the office without worrying that the screen may unintentionally slide out of the casing and become bent or scratched. I did not experience any issues with this while testing the monitor.
The monitor itself is held to the back of the laptop via a set of magnetic discs and adhesive. These magnets help stabilize the casing when the monitor is extended. I carried the laptop around the house and office many times during the writing of this review and never had the sense that the monitor was slipping or unstable due to the magnets not adhering enough. That said, there were times when the monitor would slide a bit if I made sudden turns while holding it or closed the laptop while the monitor was extended.
How did our experience go overall?
The Duex Plus did what it says it does. It provided a vivid and crisp display that was not a big hassle to use. It worked well at a workstation desk, the kitchen table, Starbucks, even in bed on a laptop desk. As I mentioned earlier, there were some situations where the monitor shifted while I was walking around with the laptop, but this is by no means a deal-breaker or a criticism of the product, just physics at work.
While we had rare critiques of the product once it was up and running, a few items to note about the installation gave us a few hiccups. To start, our device did not come with the magnet adhesives pre-installed as the instructions stated. Without these adhesives, your Duex Plus will not stay attached to your laptop. The magnets are simply not powerful enough (presumably to protect your laptop monitor from magnetic damage).
When consulting a third-party installation video, we noted that the attachment guide that came with our product was actually missing an installation step from the attachment guide shown in the video. If you find that your installation guide does not say so, be sure to clean the top of your laptop thoroughly with an alcohol wipe to remove any oils or dust that will prevent proper adhesion of the monitor casing to the laptop.
Additionally, if your device did not come with the magnet adhesives already in place (see our photo), apply the adhesive stickers that were provided in the package to the magnetic discs. These adhesives will attach to the top of your laptop and keep the device in place. I wasn’t a big fan of these stickers being permanently adhered to my laptop once I saw how this system was working. Please keep this in mind if you are considering this product and you have a strong aversion to adhesives on the casing of your laptop.
Once the installation was figured out, getting the drivers installed and the second display configured was not hard at all. The included user guide will walk you through the steps to get the screen working properly in your chosen operating system.
Pros & Cons
Here is a list of what we found great about the Duex Plus for our previously mentioned use cases, ranging from working in bed to our local coffee shop.
- Lightweight form factor. The entire unit is compact and introduces minimal bloat to the laptop when it is installed. It does not rely on clips or other bulky components to keep the monitor in place.
- Feels secure. The magnetic system holds the monitor in place well when the laptop is stationary on the table.
- Quick & Easy first-time installation. You can be up and running with your dual monitor in minutes.
- Vivid and crisp overall picture. The 1080p resolution looks good and provides a great secondary workspace for multitasking.
- Tidy and compact. The provided USB cable is not overly long and provides minimal cable management woes when in use.
And now for the cons:
- Magnetic disc dependency. The biggest drawback to this product is the dependency on the magnetic discs that help adhere it to the laptop. These magnets must be permanently attached to the laptop for the Duex Plus to click into. I wasn’t thrilled by this fact since I am not too fond of adhesives or other sticky stuff on my laptops. Besides being a general eyesore, these discs introduce our second con for this product.
- To use the Duex Plus on multiple laptops, you’ll need extra magnetic discs, which don’t come included. We didn’t have additional discs to test the monitor on a second laptop due to this issue. If you plan to use the Duex Plus on multiple laptops, plan on buying additional magnetic discs for each additional laptop.
- Those adhesives and magnetic discs are required for the Duex Plus to attach to a laptop. If you run out of adhesives or somehow lose a magnet, you’ll be stuck waiting until a replacement arrives to be able to use the monitor as an attached display.
- The casing feels a bit flimsy. Due to how lightweight the product is, it feels a bit fragile at times. This is likely a tradeoff for bringing the weight and bulk down to make the Duex Plus more portable.
Final thoughts on the Duex Plus
Overall, we thought the Duex Plus did the job it set out to do; which is to provide additional screen real estate for those who multitask, whether it be in remote locations or at home. It performed best for us when used in table-top settings, as it can be a bit of a logistics problem to carry around while the screen is extended. It’s an ideal product to own for people with small or shared desk spaces where portability matters and space comes at a premium. It’s an asset that certainly helps empower those looking to work from locations of their choosing.
That said, we weren’t so thrilled that the magnetic discs must adhere to the laptop monitor. We understand that this is a tradeoff for the Duex Plus being a lightweight form factor, but it is nonetheless a dependency of this product working as a secondary attached screen. Be sure to keep that in mind when considering this product.
We also feel it is important to note that if you plan to use the Duex Plus on multiple laptops, be sure to order additional magnet discs and adhesives, as they need to stay adhered to the laptop in order for the Duex Plus to attach. If you plan to use the Duex Plus on only one laptop, then this won’t be an issue for you.