Laptop productivity is often limited by the form factor. While laptops themselves can be incredibly useful for working on the go, whether for a meeting or on a business trip (remember those?), they can also make many users feel limited by their design. The biggest obstacle to productivity, at least for me, is the single-monitor configuration that laptops offer.
This is simply due to the nature of the device. But as more and more of us use multi-monitor setups for work (whether it’s keeping an eye on Google Trends and Analytics while still being able to write on the other – or whatever the case may be) , using a laptop could be a roadblock. Fortunately, more and more companies are trying to find a solution to this core problem: portable monitors.
Portable monitors themselves are nothing new. However, what if you could buy a setup that turned your laptop into a three-display productivity king? Enter the FOPO Triple Portable Monitorthat brings two IPS 1080p screens to the table to flank your laptop’s standard screen and recreate the desktop experience you’re used to on the go.
- Current price: $549 ($100 off at Amazon)
- Screen: IPS
- Resolution: 1920×1080
- Size: Two 13.3 inch displays
- Compatible with 15″ to 17″ laptop displays
- Blue Light Filter: Yes
- Viewing angle: 178 degrees
- I/O: MIDI HDMI; 2xUSB-C on each monitor
- 74% NTSC color gamut
- Anti-glare: yes
- Comes with: 2x Mini HDMI to HDMI Cables; 2x USB-C to USB-C cable, 2x USB-C to USB-A cable, power adapter, 2x screen protector
Impressions of the FOPO Portable Triple Monitor
As soon as I unpacked it, I noticed the folded design of the FOCA laptop monitor. The two monitors flank an extendable bracket that goes over the laptop screen itself. Each display folds out from the center bracket and positions alongside; However, the folded design leaves much to be desired.
The entire kit folds like a compressed “Z” with each individual monitor folding out from a different direction. Due to the way it is folded, there is always a screen exposed, which makes it easy to damage when carried in a bag and so on. This is helped a little by the screen protectors included in the box, but they don’t protect them from something hard hitting the screen when folded.
The actual construction of the extender thankfully doesn’t feel cheap. Although the case is plastic, it doesn’t feel like a plastic that I could easily bend or break unless I really tried. This makes it feel like it can withstand some damage, but I wouldn’t attempt to test that theory.
Luckily, setting up the FOPO Portable Triple Laptop Monitor is quite simple. Simply pull out the center extension to fit over your laptop’s screen and rotate the displays out on each side to face you. There is also a nifty stand on the back of the center extension to mount the portable monitors at whatever angle you set your laptop screen at.
However, connecting the laptop can be tricky if you don’t have the right I/O. My Dell laptop does have a USB-C connection, but not one that can transfer video. Also, it only has one HDMI port, so I was only able to really use one side of the extender at best.
Luckily I have a hub specifically to get around this. While I still don’t have any USB-C connectors that could accommodate a second monitor, I didn’t need them. FOCA has older laptop users covered with every port imaginable. The USB-C to USB-A cables came in handy here, powering each of the displays, while the hub gave me the extra HDMI port I needed to complete the setup.
I really appreciated the amount of I/O on each display as well as the fact that the FOPO ensured that the cables provided would allow any user to potentially utilize the setup.
But how are the screens?
The biggest concern I had was whether or not the screens themselves would be good. And I’m incredibly happy to say they are. The two IPS panels have quite surprising brightness and clarity, making every object on the screen look as bright as day.
I also appreciate that each screen’s brightness can be adjusted independently, meaning I can easily match each to the lighting in the room. The IPS panel also helps ensure the screens look amazing from most viewing angles, ensuring you get the best possible viewing experience no matter the setup.
This requires the extender to fit snugly over your screen, which was not the case with mine.
Unfortunately, my laptop is a 13-inch display, which is a bit small for the S16 Extender model we tested. That doesn’t mean it’s unusable – far from it – but it didn’t feel as stable as it could. The kickstand on the back helped, but because the extender didn’t fit snugly around the monitor itself, I always worried that accidentally kicking the legs of my desk or table could bring the whole thing down.
Luckily that didn’t happen, even when I accidentally hit the table leg when using it in a prolonged session. Although it was a bit large for my monitor, the whole thing held up admirably and quite impressed me.
The side I/O of each display is also impressive, with two USB-C ports and a mini-HDMI port. The USB-C ports can be used to transfer video and power the display itself, which doesn’t exactly require an external power supply either.
However, you’ll likely use the extender with your laptop connected, as these displays are powered.
Since your screens are primarily powered by your laptop via USB, you’ll want to make sure you have either a strong battery or an outlet nearby. The FOPO screens do come with a power adapter, but that can complicate the already fairly cable-heavy setup. Since each display uses a USB for power, and in many cases requires a separate cable for video (unless you have a more modern laptop with video and powered USB-Cs), you’ll likely run two cables from each to your laptop ( or in my case Powered Hub). This consumes a lot of energy, and while the benefits are great, they didn’t last long, at least in my experience.
Obviously your mileage here will vary with battery life – it really depends on your laptop’s watt-hours, but it’s worth noting that the best use case is that you can also plug in the device.
However, expanding my laptop displays caused my productivity to skyrocket. There are times when I just have to leave my office to work, but when I do I feel so unproductive because things are a bit slower in my workflow. Where I have multiple displays at my desk that help me organize windows and easily move from one thing to the next, my laptop sees that I struggle with alt-tab and generally move more slowly.
For once, when I added two more displays to the mix, I felt as productive in the coffee shop as I did at my desk. And it was lovely.
And it’s not just work that these screens can help with. Got a gaming laptop and want to expand your gaming space to three screens? If your computer is powerful enough, you can—technically. Want to stream to your Twitch channel on the go and need a display for your console? You can dedicate one screen to your slots game while the other two monitor your stream status and chat.
Because the FOPO’s portable laptop monitors are essentially plug-and-play, you don’t necessarily have to use them just your laptop. This expands productivity and your use case for them beyond simple laptop expansion. And that’s great because the price of it isn’t cheap.
At $549, these 13.3-inch displays are expensive — a lot more money than you could spend on two standard 1080p displays. And if you only use your laptop at an office desk, these make more sense. What these screens offer is portability. They’re lightweight and fold up to fit in a standard laptop bag, although I’d take care to protect the exposed screen when traveling. However, if you’re simply looking to expand your displays on a work laptop at the office, I can’t really recommend these over cheaper standard 1080p monitors.
So it really comes down to whether the goal is to increase productivity on the go. While it was nice to settle into my favorite coffee shop and feel as productive as I do in my home office, it’s not necessarily the most comfortable setup. This could also simply be due to the limited I/O on my older Dell laptop. Since the displays of the FOCA can be easily powered and displayed via USB-C, this is not a big effort with the right laptop.
It’s also not a big deal that you might need to stay plugged into the wall while using it, as most of the time I have my charging cable anyway when I’m in a coffee shop or elsewhere.
Compatibility will be an issue for some. The FOPO warns that the displays aren’t compatible with the M1 Mac or the Surface Pro, but the company has a full list of compatible laptops on its Amazon listing to ensure users can decide if this will work with their setup or not not .
All in all, the FOPO Triple Portable Monitor is a great package. The screens themselves are the highlight. They’re crisp, clear, and easy to adjust for the perfect viewing angle. They don’t feel cheap either, which is a huge plus, especially when portability is a selling point.
However, when folded, they seem to have a fatal flaw, as there is always a screen exposed. I’m concerned that this could easily damage the display if it’s just put in a laptop bag during transport. The sheer amount of I/O allows a wide variety of laptops to work with the display, although it can be annoying to fiddle with all the different cables required to make it work on older models.
However, when everything is set up, the FOPO monitors are a dream, increasing my productivity exponentially. They’re bright, clear, and incredibly stable, even on a smaller laptop. The cost might be high for some, especially if your laptop never really leaves your desk. But if you’re looking for a way to boost your productivity, add more digital real estate to your laptop, or just have a portable monitor for the occasional gamer, the FOPO Triple Laptop Monitor isn’t a bad choice.
The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.
https://www.mmorpg.com/hardware-reviews/fopo-triple-portable-laptop-monitor-review-2000124622 FOPO Triple Portable Laptop Monitor Review