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Attention to detail makes the Zissu's external monitor stand out

If your mobile office needs more screen real estate, consider adopting a portable external monitor. Jack Wallen recommends the Zissu's 15.6" landscape monitor.

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I have to use devices in various configurations and I work with software that demands more screen real estate. For instance, when I do video editing, I work with a 13" MacBook Pro and Final Cut Pro. That small screen is ideal for writing on the go, but video work? Not so much. That's one of the many instances where I have to turn to external sources.

Up until recently, I'd been using a Lepow 15" external monitor. Although that monitor served its purpose, it had a few drawbacks that made it less than ideal. Two issues really stood out for me. The first was that, every time I would go to use the monitor, it would default to the dimmest level of brightness. That's all fine and good when you're in a dark area and you don't want that screen to drain your device battery prematurely. But, when you're doing work that requires fine detail, and you have access to power, always having to readjust the brightness can become an obstacle (albeit minor) to efficiency.

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The bigger issue with the Lepow was the lack of a built-in stand. It's fine when you're at home and can use just about anything to prop it up--even a phone stand will do. However, when you're on the go, you don't want to have to carry both an external monitor and a stand.

So, when the company behind the Zissu external 15.6" monitor requested I take a look at their latest piece of hardware, I accepted thinking, "When you've used one external monitor you've used them all." Although that opinion might seem short-sighted, after you take a look at the feature set of these types of monitors, they all start to blend together. 

  • USB-C port? Check.

  • Headphone jack? Check.

  • Brightness adjustment? Check.

  • On/Off switch? Check.

  • Mini HDMI input? Check.

Sometimes, it's the little things that matter, and the Zissu's external 15.6" monitor was a big hit in that arena.

The Zissu's monitor includes features like:

  • Built-in stand

  • Two USB-C ports

  • Headphone jack

  • Easy brightness adjustment

  • On/off switch

  • 1080P Full HD & HDR mode

  • Built-in dual stereo speakers

Out of the box, the monitor looks fairly common place. So what about the Zissu's helped it to edge out the monitor I'd been using for over a year?

Let's take a look at the reasons why.

Compatibility

If I had one reason to drop the Lepow for the Zissu's, it would be compatibility. The Zissu's monitor accepted nearly everything I threw at it. Upon attaching a Samsung Galaxy 9 into Zissu's, Samsung DeX automatically launched to give me a full-blown desktop experience (Figure A).

Figure A

zissusb.jpg

Samsung's DeX works flawlessly on the Zissu's.

Note: To be fair, the Lepow also worked with the Galaxy 9, but only if it was also plugged into an external power source. The Zissu's didn't require external power to run DeX.

In fact, the Zissu's external monitor worked with almost everything I tried, with one exception--my Google Pixel phones. This is, unfortunately, by design. Google would much rather users take advantage of Chromecast. Although the external monitor feature is baked into the Pixel code, it's disabled (with no way of enabling it). Suffice it to say, that's unfortunate, but not surprising. 

Plug the Zissu's into a laptop or desktop and you have an instant second screen.

Stand or fall

The Zissu's built-in stand really does make a difference. As you can see, the Zissu's stand doubles as the port location for the monitor, whereas the Lepow ports are on the edge of the display and the third-party stand looms in the background (Figure B).

Figure B

zissusa.jpg

The Zissu's external monitor is shown on the left.

Image: Jack Wallen/TechRepublic

For anyone on the go, who requires an external monitor, that built-in stand is convenient. The hinges are also incredibly well built, such that you can make very minute adjustments to the angle of the monitor, without having to lock it into place. The friction of the hinges alone is enough to keep the Zissu's upright. It's a tiny, but very nice touch.

The bezels

With a 15.6" external monitor, that could easily be used as an on-the-go device, space counts. So getting the most screen without having to lug around a wieldy piece of tech matters. The top and side bezels on the Zissu's are a scant one-eighth of an inch thick (with the bottom being just shy of one inch). That translates to a smaller overall size than similar monitors. When you're on the move, those small bezels matter.

The caveat

If there's one caveat to the Zissu's external monitor, it's that you only get one mode--landscape. So for those who like to use their external monitors in non-traditional setups, you'll find yourself out of luck with this device. 

The conclusion

You might not think these small differences matter for an external monitor you may or may not use all the time. However, the attention to detail Zissu's has applied to this device makes it stand out. If you prefer to work with two monitors, or your portable device screen is never big enough, consider purchasing the Zissu's 15.6" external monitor. At $179.99, you can't go wrong. 

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