Have you ever wanted more screen space for your laptop that’s still portable? Well this might be the solution you’re looking for, it’s the Trio Max from Mobile Pixels and it lets you add one or even two extra screens to your laptop. Basically you attach it to the laptop’s lid and then you slide the screen out to use it. The screens are available in either 12.5”, or the 14” max version, which I’ve got here as it’s a better fit for a 15” laptop. Both panels are 1080p 60Hz, so not a high refresh rate for gaming or anything, but definitely still fine for viewing extra content, which I think is where these shine anyway, in more productivity focussed work.
The 14” one goes for about $300 USD while the smaller 12.5” one is $50 less. Installation is pretty straightforward. In order to get the screen attached to the back of your laptop, you’ve got to stick these circular metal plates to the back of the lid. The screen comes with 12 plates in total, so you’ve got spares, or you can stick them to other laptops and move the additional screen between the laptops easily, as the screen unit itself simply uses magnets to attach to the metal plates on the lid. This means when the screen isn't attached your lid it will look like this with the four metal discs showing. They seem to be stuck on pretty well, I couldn’t move them with my fingers, more on removal soon.
It’s recommended that the bottom of the screen should be touching the desk when the lid’s open, so that it’s not fully held in place by the magnets and some of the weight is offloaded. I’ve got one screen here, so two in total if we count the laptop’s screen, but it’s possible to install two of these things and have three screens in total.
It comes with a plastic holder that you clip on top to hold both together. Each screen is about half an inch thick though, so adding two screens would essentially make your laptop an inch thicker, though you can of course take them off thanks to the magnets and transport separately. Each panel weighs 926g or about 2lb, then a little more with the cable included, and of course double this if you plan on using two screens, which would be similar in weight to carrying around a second laptop in some cases.
Each screen connects with a USB cable and this provides both power and display signal, so two screens would use two separate USB cables. The included cable is Type-C to Type-C, but it comes with a Type-A connector for the laptop side to improve compatibility, and the cable was more than long enough that it can reach from the side of the screen when outstretched to the other side of the laptop if you only have USB ports on one side of your machine.
You have to install a driver to get it to work, I couldn’t get it to work prior to this, even if I connected directly to my laptop’s Type-C port which offers DisplayPort out, I guess because it’s only using the USB given the Type-A adapter works.
I’ve tested the 14” panel with my Spyder 5 and got 61% of sRGB, 45% of AdobeRGB, and 45% of DCI-P3. I’ve measured the brightness at 257 nits at 100%, so a little dim especially as my laptop’s screen is closer to 400. There was some backlight bleed. I didn’t really notice it when viewing darker content, but this will vary between panels. I think it looks fine, it’s definitely not super impressive or anything and I would want to use it for color accurate work, but I don’t think that’s its purpose, it’s just extra screen space for you to place documents and get more stuff done. Just stick to the main screen for color accurate work, of course assuming your laptop’s is better.
Although not a panel that’s advertised for gaming, I’ve still measured the screen’s response time and got an average 20.5ms for gray to gray. Interestingly when we compare it to my laptop panel results, it’s actually the fastest 60Hz screen I’ve got data for, so it’s not as bad as some gaming laptops in that regard.
I was curious to see how the second screen would affect battery life, and, well, the ASUS Zephyrus S15 I’ve been testing with almost lasted for twice as long without the additional screen, which makes sense as screens are one of the biggest power drawers when it comes to laptops, so expect even less battery life if you’re going for a third screen. I don’t think this is a big deal, if you’re packing 2kg of extra screens with you chances are you can take a power brick too.
The screen can sort of be angled towards you a bit. It can go all the way back around to face others though, allowing you to share with other people. The case is all plastic, and with the screen fully extended it did feel a bit flimsy at times. You can see here it’s drooping down a little, I was only able to fix that by pushing the panel back in more, but of course doing this reduces the amount of the screen you can see.
Apart from not looking perfect, I had no practical problems with this, it might be a bit awkward to try and pick it up to move it, just slide the screens back in first and it’ll be fine. If you’ve just got one panel like me, you can also just remove it magnetically and flip it the other way to have the screen on the other side instead. The screen will be flipped, so in Windows you’ll just need to change to landscape flipped so it’s the right way up.
You can also rotate the on screen display, so no problems using it on either side. There are touch capacitive buttons on the side for changing these settings. You can still use the second screen with the laptop lid closed, but unfortunately it's not a touchscreen which would have been a bit more useful in this scenario.
To remove the metal plates from the laptop lid, the included guide suggests using a hair dryer with medium heat to gently warm the plates by softening the adhesive. I couldn’t just pull them off with my fingers so I had to warm them up as suggested. I had to heat mine quite hot to stand a chance of removing it, and even then it was challenging to get it off. There was only a little residue behind which was easy to wipe off. I’m not sure if you can reuse it, it’s hard to say, the adhesive on the metal disk was still quite sticky so it may be possible, I suppose worst case you could get some good double-sided tape instead, otherwise you could just use one of the included spares.
Overall I think the idea is pretty cool, it seems unlikely that a company is going to sell a laptop with three screens because Linus will just steal it. Jokes aside, that Razer prototype thing was almost 4 years ago now, and we still don’t have anything like it. This solution does offer more screen space for those on the go, and lets you use it with pretty much any existing laptop.
These panels are far easier to stick into a bag compared to a traditional monitor, if you don’t need to take the screens with you though then keeping a regular monitor on your desk and docking would probably be better.
This solution is by no means perfect and can feel a bit janky at times, but there aren’t a whole lot of alternatives at the moment, hopefully this is something that we see improve over time. An alternative would of course be to use a separate external screen like this one, but I admit there is something nice about being able to get the secondary screen directly side by side, something that’s not as easy to pull off with a screen on a stand
Anyway let me know what you thought about this, would you run a dual or triple monitor setup on a laptop?