There are a number of USB monitors now beginning to come into the market. The idea is that you plug these into your laptop, as required, to give an extended desktop. The problem with most of them, however, is that their output is usual quite poor, often with reduced angles and low levels of brightness.
The Lenovo ThinkVision LT1421 is a 14″ screen with a 1366×668 pixel resolution that connects via USB. A mini USB plugs into the monitor and this runs to your PC as 2 USB cables – one is required for data and power and the other, if required, for further power. Personally, I’ve not needed to use the 2nd cable. With the cover (that you’d be mad not to use) it weighs just over 2.3 lbs and it’s just 0.35 inches at its thinnest, so it slips into a laptop bag easily.
The screen itself has no stand but comes with a hard plastic cover which, when clipped off, the monitor sites on. A “leg” with a rubber foot is then folded out from the back of the screen and this allows you to prop the monitor up at angle between 12 and 40 degrees.
Also on the back of the monitor is a control allowing to adjust the brightness up and down and a power light.
The screen surround is a very traditional Lenovo matt black plastic with the ThinkVision logo in a top corner and a silver Lenovo badge at the bottom.
Included with the monitor is the screen, cable, instruction leaflet and driver CD. The LT1421 connects via the DisplayLink technology and hence the reason for the driver. I never used the CD but, instead, downloaded the latest driver from the Lenovo website.
Once the driver is installed simply plugging the monitor into your computer’s USB port causes it to power on. Both screens will flicker as the current desktop is extended. A system tray icon allows you to specify how the 2nd monitor should work – I usually have it to the right of me and extend it that way so I can drag and drop files precisely from one screen to another. You can also rotate the screen and even just use it as a mirror of your laptop screen (potentially useful in meetings where you want to share your screen’s output but need to be able to view it yourself).
The screen is quite bright with good viewing angles. The colour is a little more yellow than my laptop screen and there’s no method of adjustment. Bear this in mind though – I have no intention of using it for photo work or the like so I’m happy that this is the case.
I struggled to find a UK distributor of this and bought mine via a German retailer on Amazon.co.uk for £145. However, you can now (at time of writing this) buy the LT1421 from the Artiss.co.uk shop for £119.81, including P&P.
Using on a Mac
Drivers are available from DisplayLink for the appropriate drivers for Mac. In use, the experience is better than that on Windows – after installation and plugging in the monitor the display powers up immediately and is automatically configured very well. There are no additional icons – you simply adjust setup via the standard “Displays’ option within Preferences.
Summary of Lenovo ThinkVision LT1421An excellent way to extend your laptop screen. It’s not too expensive and has a better screen than the majority of the competition. Combine that with the Lenovo quality and this is an excellent product.
Reviewed by David Artiss on 4th May 2012.