A Great Travel Companion for Both Work and Play – Review Geek

Rating:
7.5/10
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  • 1 – Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 – Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 – Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 – Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 – Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 – Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 – Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 – Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 – Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

Price: $160

The Vissels portable monitor showing the Review Geek home page
Peter Cao

I’ve always been a multi-monitor person, and my biggest issue with having such a setup has always been using my tiny 16-inch MacBook screen while on the go. It’s simply just not enough space. There’s always the option of using SideCar, which uses an iPad as a secondary display, but that also means remembering to keep my iPad charged.

Here’s What We Like

  • Self-powered
  • Built-in stand that doubles as protection
  • Large 15.6-inch screen
  • USB-C with passthrough charging

And What We Don’t

  • Mini HDMI means carrying an extra cable
  • Stand doesn’t lock into place
  • Speakers aren’t great and sound tinny

Fortunately, this portable monitor from Vissles solves that issue. With a single USB-C cable that plugs directly into recent MacBooks and most USB-C enabled Windows laptops, it’s able to pass through video, audio, and power up to 60W. One cord to power them all! It features a 15.6-inch matte 1080p LCD panel. Would 1440p or 4K be better? Sure, but that comes at a significantly higher power draw. At just 1080p, the monitor can eliminate needing a power adapter entirely on most notebooks.

Have a laptop or other device that doesn’t support USB-C Power Delivery (PD)? This Vissles monitor has your back. It has a mini HDMI port and comes with a mini HDMI to HDMI cable. In this case, you can use the included USB-C cable and a USB-C power adapter (not included) to power the monitor.

Oh, and the monitor comes with a second USB-C port, which is killer, especially if you own a Nintendo Switch. You can connect the console directly to the monitor, bypassing having to carry that truly massive dock when on the go. All you’ll need is the monitor’s included USB-C to USB-C cable and the Switch’s original power adapter. The only downside with this setup is you miss out on the extra USB ports found in the standard Switch dock for wired controllers and other accessories.

A Few Compromises

When portability is the main focus, you’d expect quite a few compromises, especially in the resolution and screen quality department. While I wouldn’t say there are no compromises with this Vissles monitor, the compromises aren’t all that noticeable in day to day use.

For one , the kickstand is magnetic and folds over to protect the screen when it’s in your bag and not in use. Neat. Unfortunately, there’s a small amount of tilt between 95 and 110 or so degrees you can set it at before the entire monitor topples over.

There also aren’t any predefined “clicks” that’ll get the monitor to lock into any specific spot, so you’ll have to ballpark your preferred spot each time you need to use it.

Fortunately, the kickstand can be removed entirely if you’re planning to have the monitor in a more permanent spot. Unfortunately, there’s no VESA mount support, so you’ll need to find a monitor riser for it if you need the extra height.

The display itself is matte. While I generally prefer glossy displays over matte, matte displays are great for travel as they’re better at hiding reflections and combatting glare. It’s a 1080p LCD panel, which is plenty sharp and very power efficient for on-the-go use.

The monitor is made of mostly dark/black hard plastic and feels sturdy. It features relatively thin display borders, giving it a sleek, modern look. The folding stand is made out of carbon fiber, which looks nice and will protect the monitor when it’s in your bag.

Single Cable Solution

Dual USB-C ports and mini-HDMI port for Vissles monitor
Peter Cao

By far the best thing about the Vissles monitor is its simplicity. If you own a MacBook or a Windows laptop with a USB-C port, it’ll be all you need to drive the monitor. The monitor supports power, video, and audio through the included USB-C cable. Keep in mind that you’ll still need a separate charging cable for your laptop if you’re running low on juice.

Unfortunately, certain Windows machines don’t have the ability to provide power from their USB-C ports. In this case, you’ll need to use a USB-C power adapter (not included) that outputs 18W or more of power to power the monitor.

For other devices, the monitor includes a mini HDMI to HDMI cable. It’s a rather short cable, and if you need more length you can either purchase an HDMI extension cable or a longer mini HDMI to HDMI cable. It’s annoying, especially if you plan on setting the monitor on a table and your console on the floor.

The monitor also has speakers and a 3.5mm audio out port if you need either of those. Personally, I didn’t test either extensively as when I’m on the go, I’ll be using Bluetooth for audio. But in my brief testing with the built-in speakers, they’re good enough for notification sounds and video calls, but you’ll want to use your own headphones or speakers for practically everything else. The sound is very vocal forward and tinny.

For More Than Just Work

Vissles monitor displaying Mario Kart 8 Deluxe while connected to Nintendo Switch
Peter Cao

Now let’s discuss less traditional scenarios. I hooked up my Nintendo Switch directly to it via USB-C and plugged the Switch’s USB-C power adapter into the second USB-C port on the monitor and it worked flawlessly with no notable input lag. I was able to play Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Splatoon 2 just fine.

Samsung devices will enter Samsung Dex mode  when plugged in, giving you full access to the Dex experience. Of course, you’ll need to supply your own power cable as the monitor will be draining quite a bit of power from the phone itself.

While less useful, I was able to plug my iPad Pro via USB-C as well, with the standard 18W USB-C power adapter to the wall, which worked fine as well. iPadOS is still fairly limited when it comes to external display support, mirroring the screen in most scenarios, but it does work if you need a larger screen.

Wrapping Things Up

Vissles Monitor's power, volume, and headphone jack
Peter Cao

In conclusion, this Vissles monitor is a great on-the-go monitor. If you’ve ever said, “I wish I had more screen real estate on my laptop” while traveling, it’s an easy recommendation. It’s thin, light, compact, and most importantly, it supports USB-C PD for passthrough charging. Many other portable monitors lack passthrough charging entirely.

Yeah, it’s only a 1080p screen but a higher resolution would result in higher power draw from your laptop or its own power adapter. Plus, that’s plenty sharp for an extra few browser windows or watching a quick YouTube video. My only real complaint is that it lacks any sort of USB ports. It’d come in handy for devices like the Switch that only has a single USB-C port for plugging in additional wired controllers or accessories or for laptops with limited I/O.

Rating: 7.5/10

Price: $160

Here’s What We Like

  • Self-powered
  • Built-in stand that doubles as protection
  • Large 15.6-inch screen
  • USB-C with passthrough charging

And What We Don’t

  • Mini HDMI means carrying an extra cable
  • Stand doesn’t lock into place
  • Speakers aren’t great and sound tinny