We don’t usually pay much attention to portable displays here at Digital Trends, given their status as niche devices. Personally, I never gave them much thought, considering them a complication that would just get in the way when I’m working outside of my home office. The fact that many I’d seen were cheap, off-brand displays didn’t help.
But then LG sent their newest portable display, the $350 gram +view IPS Portable Monitor, along with an LG Gram 16 2-in-1 that I was scheduled to review, and I had no choice but to give the display a try. The awkward name aside, I found it a surprisingly useful product that I’m strongly considering adding to my own stable of portable devices.
Multitasking on the go
I hate using a single display. My primary work machine is a desktop with three 4K monitors, and as excessive as it sounds, I wish I had space for one more. When I move somewhere else to work and pull out a laptop, I can’t help but feel constrained. It’s so much more convenient to have a full screen for writing and another full screen for research. Using split-screen on a laptop just doesn’t cut it.
A portable monitor like the gram +view solves that problem. For the uninitiated, portable monitors are meant to emulate a laptop screen with the purpose of setting it up side-by-side with your laptop. You gain twice the screen real estate with such a setup.
If I’m working in a coffee house, say, on a table of any reasonable size, I could pull out the portable display and easily set it up for multi-monitor goodness. My main laptop is a Dell XPS 15, meaning the gram +view would even be slightly larger than the Dell’s display, making it a no-compromise solution.
I’ve even been using it at home, moving to the family room and placing the laptop and display on an ottoman that sits in front of our couch. That’s enough of a change from my home office that it feels like a break, and yet I’m so much more productive.
And though I’m talking about the LG gram +view’s design specifically, much of the same will apply to many of the excellent portable displays available today. You’ll still want to do your research before making your choice, of course, but let me lead off by saying that the gram +view is a very nice display indeed.
And yes, though the product is called the “gram +view,” it’s not sold bundled with the LG Gram, nor does it need to be used exclusively with that laptop brand. It’ll work for any laptop with a USB-C port just fine.
The gram +view is a nicely designed portable display.
To begin with, it’s a thin slate at just 0.3 inches thick, and it’s light enough at 1.8 pounds. It would be easy to mistake it for a very large tablet, albeit one with a 16-inch WQXGA (2,560 x 1,600) display running at 60Hz. The bezels are small on top and around the sides, with a larger chin that likely houses most of the electronics and provides space for a USB-C connection on each side. It’s also attractive with a minimalist aesthetic, featuring black bezels on the front and a silver aluminum chassis covering the sides and the back. It doesn’t specifically match the LG Gram series of laptops as far as I can tell, and in fact, given its color scheme, it would go nicely with a Dell XPS 15.
It’s propped up with a folio cover that easily converts to a stand that holds it firmly upright. As I was using the display, I had little fear that it would fall over on its own accord, and yet the folio is light (it adds just 0.38 pounds) and provides good protection for the screen when in its closed position.
Setup and image quality
Using the display is incredibly simple. You just plug it into a USB-C port that supports DisplayPort Alt Mode and it turns on and defaults to duplicating the laptop display. I went to Settings > Display and made the necessary adjustments to extend the displays and position the gram +view on the correct side.
There’s a small OnScreen Control utility that you can install that allows you to split the external display in several ways including implementing picture-in-picture mode, changing the picture mode, adjusting the brightness and contrast, and creating application presets. You can also turn on and off auto-pivot — the display will work in both landscape and portrait modes.
I could tell it was a high-quality screen just from my first look, but of course, I wanted to test it myself. According to my colorimeter, the gram +view turned in even better results than the LG Gram 16 2-in-1’s 16-inch display. It was brighter at 356 nits versus 323 nits, had slightly wider colors at 88% of AdobeRGB versus 87% (both hit 100% sRGB), and the colors were more accurate at a DeltaE of 2.02 compared to 2.82. Only the gram +view’s contrast was lower at 1,170:1 versus 1,230:1, but that’s still above our preferred 1,000:1 threshold.
In other words, this is a display that creators could use to extend their workflow on the go. That’s impressive, and it’s more than good enough for more productivity-focused users like myself who just want a sharp, bright, and pleasant screen to multitask with. Heck, I’d even enjoy using the gram +view to watch a movie if the situation called for it.
Not for everyone
Portable monitors have their place. Most folks will continue to be fine taking their laptop on the go with them while docking it at home with a larger monitor.
But for the laptop user who doesn’t like to be chained to a desk, the flexibility of a portable monitor can greatly expand your work canvas. Or, as I found for myself, it’s a great solution for those who despise the confines of working on a single screen. If you fit into either of those groups, a portable monitor like the LG gram +view is a great way to go.
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