Seperis (seperis) wrote,

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portable monitor triumph!

Work From Home: I live in an apartment in which there is no room for an office and barely room for me and Child. My bedroom, for various reasons, isn't workable; part of this is the sheer lack of plugs in which to plug in everything, and less important but still a thing, my building is made of concrete and if anyone knocks, I literally cannot hear it. I bought a Ring doorbell to help with this, but people rarely use it. This has been an ongoing problem.\

So I set up camp in the living room, and at this point learned my couch will literally almost break my back, so temporarily I'm using an armless living room chair that while so not ideal is wonderful for my posture because it's just not slumpable and with a memory foam sitting pad on a memory foam pillow--yeah, all that--the seat is high enough that I can easily stand and sit without bending my back. My laptop now sits atop an ottoman on one of these and I have an end table with a lap and a dot as my only working non-computer surface. It is not comfortable exactly, but my back doesn't complain.

...which brought me to my problem. For work, I need a second monitor.

When I say need, I mean, when testing was assigned second monitors, our paper needs dropped by eighty to ninety percent. We no longer had to print out business and design documents--which for each individual SR could be from ten to five hundred pages--to write test scenarios. Each release had thirty to three hundred SRs. For context, for each release I'd need at least one five inch binder, one to three three inch binders, and one to three one inch binders to hold business documents, design documents, the original SR, and miscellaneous important emails we'd need to either write test or run tests as well as updates, modifications, deletions, and changes to said business document, design document, and SR.

(SR = Service Request AKA Thing To Be Done. You file an SR every time you want to add, update, change, or delete anything in the programs that administer SNAP, Medicaid, TANF, MEPD and various other entitlement programs. A single SR can be "Add five words of text to the Help Page" or "Create a brand new driver flow to file, maintain, search, work, and dispose of food stamp, TANF, and Medicaid appeals in the state of Texas". THat, by the way, was the first thing I worked on when I became a tester and I still have the five inch binder.)

So yeah that second monitor became handy and I no longer needed three days at the end of each release just to do clean up of my desk and files. Now, we just go to the folder we have everything for this SR stored in, open what we need, and put it on the second monitor while writing in the first. And saved about ten times the money in paper than our monitors were worth in one year, probably.

I hadn't planned on buying a regular monitor anyway; I'll never use it for anything but work at home, Child couldn't use it because he needs gaming-class monitors both because he's a gamer and because his classes in game design at school require it. My mother and sisters and nieces have tablets or laptops as their primary, and also, see 'my apartment is not that big'; there is no place to put it, even to store it. So my goal was to get a monitor I could use for work, but also one I could use at home.

Now, as a lot of us are working at home, I thought I'd throw this out, because my flist probably has people working from home who also a.) own a smart phone, b.) own a Nintendo Switch, c.) own a tablet, d.) own a raspberry pi, e.) run a home server, f.) own an Xbox, g.) own a see where this is going. If you are in one or more categories, you might find this one useful if you need a second monitor for work but like me, would like to buy something you'd have a use for after all this.

Lepow Upgraded 15.6 Inch IPS HDR 1920 x 1080 FHD Computer Display Game Screen - $204.99

Note: currently it's not available, but that happened twice before I bought it. For reference, I put about twelve portable monitors on my wish list when I was still comparing them and all of them go in and out of stock pretty much daily. However, if you scroll down to 'Compre to similar items', there are three more Lepow portable monitors, two $194.98 and one $229.99. I honestly have yet to find any difference between these four except the $194.98's do not have the word 'Upgrade' in their name and came out in July, the $229.99 one in August, and mine in September 2019.


Dimensions: 14.5 x 8.8 x 0.34 in
Weight: 1.7 lbs

Screen Size: 15.6 inches
Display Type: LCD
Panel Type: IPS

Resolution: FHD 1920x1080p
HDR: yes
Refresh Rate: 60 Hz
Aspect Ratio: 16:9/4:3
Visual Angle: H:85°/85°Min V:85°/85°Min
Visual Area: 344.16*194.59mm

Brightness: 300cd/m²
Contrast ratio:1000:1
Display color: 16.7M
Color gamut: 72%
Color temperature: 6800K

Speakers: built-in
Audio Output: 3.5mm jack

mini-HDMI: 1(left side)
USB-C: 2 (one on the left, one on the right)

USB-C to USB-A + Power Block

On the Monitor
Left from the bottom: headphone jack, USB-C (full), mini-HDMI, speaker grill
Right from the bottom: power button, roll key, USB-C (power only), speaker grill

In the Box
Portable Monitor
Mini HDMI to HDMI cable
Type C to Type C cable
Type C to USB A cable + Power Block
Smart Cover
Screen Protector
User Guide

How to Hook It Up

Now, for those who haven't entered the magical world of USB-C, they come in types like USB-A does, but a little differenet. Properly configured, USB-C ports should do either data + power or just power, not be a data-only But sometimes, depending on the manufacturer, it could be underpowered, not configured correctly, fuck knows. The documentation of your computer/item that needs a monitor should tell you.

Computer/Device Minimums

The USB standard should be a minimum of 3.0 for all USB ports.

(USB 2.0 might carry the data (thought probably not nearly enough power) but I can't tell for sure from googling so I'd need to test it myself.)

Your computer/device needs one the following:
1.) One full USB-C port
2.) One HDMI port

Canonical Set Up Options

For convenience, I use 'computer' for any device that might use this monitor.

Note: for below, left to right:
- [Computer Port] to [Monitor Port]
- [Monitor Port] to USB-A+Power Block)

If your computer has a full function USB-C port:
1.) Data and Power: USB-C to USB-C*
1.) Data: USB-C to USB-C
2.) Power: USB-C to USB-A+Power Block

If your computer has an HDMI port:
a.) Data: HDMI to miniHDMI
b1.) Power: USB-C to USB-A+Power Block
b2.) Power: USB-A to USB-C

Now, those are the only canonical options, but that doesn't mean those are the only ones considering how many possible connectors and adapters out there. If anyone would really like one of these but wants a check for alternate connection possibilities, feel free to ask and I can go through my many many boxes of cables and run some tests. I will probably be doing that for fun anyway, but that would give me more motivation.

* Example of non-canonical option that works: the very first USB-C to USB-C for both data and power I listed? I didn't know until I read the user manual--as in, while I was writing this--that it wasn't actually a canonical option. So there are definitely more options here.

The Roll Key

The roll key is located on the right side between the power button and the USB-C power port. It's literally a rolling key; this is how you get to the monitor settings and do things with aspect ratio, color, brightness, contrast, etc.

The Smart Case Thing

Yes, the case does act as a monitor stand, and any stationary, flat surface is fine and you'll have no problems.

However, a warning.

The monitor is attached to the case magnetically; there is literally nothing else. Yes, it stays on just fine, it won't fall out when closed, no worries there. However, these are not super-magnets or anything and there's no tiny brackets to act as an obstruction; anytime the case is open and motion is involved, the monitor can potentially slide given opportunity, just like all those science fair assignments with magnetic tracks for cars that just slid along like a greased pig.

When setting up the case as a display, two thirds of the back of the magnetic part of the case will by design no longer be in direct contact with the back of the monitor; that's by design and not a problem while the monitor is stationary, but when adjusting the case into or out of stand mode, the risk of sliding should you give it an accidental push or expose it to the vagaries of gravity is medium to high. Just pay attention when folding the case into stand mode, that's all.

I have a surprising amount of two sided tape (so many reasons) so that's probably what I'll end up doing along the top edge of the monitor for the case to attach to.

Final Word

I have literally no complaints; this thing is amazing and I love it. When I bought it, it was $204.99 plus tax, which yeah, was way more than a basic monitor of probably $50 to $80. However, it'd be money paid for something I'd never use again and no one I know would ever want or even have a use for and that I honestly don't know where I'd put it when I'm working as my dining room table is still being borrowed by my mom.

This monitor, though? It's not just 'portable' if you're really determined; it's actually 'portable' like the makers understood the meaning of the word and decided it was time to define it for all.

This? It's light, and the using the case as a stand creates an incredibly stable base. All it requires is a mostly clear roughly fourteen to eighteenish inch squared space. A cushion or pillow are just fine, or a twelve inch by eight inch space on a small end table with about four inches hanging over the side but it doesn't care so neither do I. More importantly? It won't fall over for love or money; like, maybe if you jumped on the couch or bed beside it? IDK.

It's slightly larger than a 15.4 laptop, however, so while it will fit in most laptop bags, those very form fitting ones like the one work gave me for my laptop? Nope: those .2 inches are a dealbreaker, but whatever, I can just not zip that pocket all the way. The display can be either landscape or portrait, but I'm not seeing a working case-stand configuration for that so you'd have to get another stand for that or lean it against something.

According to documentation and the set up guide, it's also compatible with Android phones and iPhones (nice big display for games!), Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, X-Box, etc. I haven't tested it with the Pi or the server, but that's generally just a matter of finding the right drivers, so I plan to find out.

Now, as I said, I wanted to get something I would actually use for more than work from home, and that overlapped with something I've wanted for a while; a monitor or screen I could attach to my home server as well as the pi that's running my Plex server, since I run them headless. I haven't gotten around to it for the same reasons; I don't have room for a monitor in my living room and so I'd need to store it between the rare times I need it for the server or pi and this apartment has no fucking storage. I have created storage, okay, but we hit full a while back. I didn't need a monitor--I could run the super long HDMI to the TV when needed--so I couldn't justify buying even a cheap $50 monitor from Amazon Warehouse. at home needs a second monitor? And I am literally working from a chair or the floor (now that the couch is enemy #1 to my back) so a traditional second monitor is not practical? I should definitely just go with a portable monitor and look at that, my server and pi also benefit!

Logic. Can't beat it.

ETA: ran some tests

Tested with my home server running Lubuntu: SUCCESS
Tested with Raspberry Pi:
- USB 3.0 to USB-C: Failed
- USB 3.0 to miniHDMI: Failed
- micro HDMI to HDMI (female)-->HDMI to mini HDMI: Pending for delivery of micro HDMI to HDMI adapter

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Tags: jenn's life, my relationship with electronics, work
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