Mobile Pixels DUEX Plus
Mobile Pixels DUEX Plus Review
Microsoft has told us for years that study after study on productivity points to more screen real estate as beneficial. Mobile laptop monitors have become very popular as travel accessories and as work-from-home accessories that don’t require the same space commitment as traditional displays. Fold them up and put them in the laptop case, and they disappear. The $399 Mobile Pixels DUEX Plus is about as mobile as you can get without projecting an image in the air. The lightweight DUEX Plus delivers on mobile performance even though its magnetic mounting approach takes away from what should be a good user experience.
What we like
The Mobile Pixels DUEX Plus is designed for portability. Given it has no need for power or local processing, it weighs significantly less than an equivalent-sized tablet. Mobile Pixels assumes bus-powered use, so unlike the larger ViewSonic TD1655, it does not come with a power supply.
While this is a no-frills monitor, its simplicity, only supporting USB-C input with bus-power, makes it a thin and light 1.3 pounds. The 16:9 display measures a slight 11.7” L x 6.5” H. Out from the computer can be either USB-C or USB-A. Mega Pixel includes a cable that supports both.
My favorite DUEX Plus feature comes from its built-in portrait mode stand. Fold it back, plug it in and go. You don’t have to debate with yourself over placing magnets on the lid of your laptop. I found this a valuable configuration for word processing, especially in stand-alone apps like Microsoft Word. It’s also great for coders looking to debug an app.
The hero use case, however, features magnets adhered to the back of a laptop. The display pulls out, offering different horizontal viewing angles (no tilt), including wrapping all the way around to support a presentation mode.
The awkward magnetic laptop mounting receives plenty of feedback in the What could be improved section. Mobile Pixels sells a kickstand, the use of which I would encourage, either that or one of many stands built to support a tablet.
The 1080p display is sharp, if not overly bright. It can look pale next to a laptop display with a high nit count. That said, it does create a solid, extended desktop leveraging only Microsoft’s or Apple’s built-in display management features. The simplicity of design on the display itself is great.
The case and mounting design, however, is another story altogether, one that I cover extensively in the What could be improved section.
What could be improved
The first thing that struck me, literarily, were the tiny latches that Mobile Pixels uses to secure the DUEX Plus into its case. Those hooks are sharp. I did not cut myself on them, but I did poke myself with them several times. If the display is not attached to a laptop, it takes a bit of prodding to come out of its case. I hesitated to press on the center where the display is exposed in fear of ruining pixels over time. So I pushed from the small protrusions on either side of the case, and that was when the sharp hooks really bit. That ouch removed me immediately from a pleasurable experience with the display.
Photos: Daniel W. Rasmus
As noted above, the DUEX Plus is not overly bright. I would like to see Mobile Pixels work to increase the display’s brightness.
I would also like to see the DUEX Plus completely cover the display when it’s housed in the case. The couple of inches of exposed display remains open to damage if not properly cared for; this is particularly an issue for those who choose to use the DUEX Plus without mounting it to a laptop.
While the built-in support for portrait mode is great, I would love to see Mobile Pixels ship the unit with its kickstand to also support horizontal display. Most mobile monitors optimize for landscape mode, which puts DUEX Plus at a disadvantage—granted they designed it for the magnets, but I’ll get to that next.
I’m not a big fan of the magnet solution to mounting a display on a laptop. I put off this review for some time because I felt like I might sacrifice a laptop lid during the review. While I was able to remove the magnets when they were attached, I found many reasons not to keep them in place.
On the minor side, the magnets change the profile coming in and out of tight sleeves. Constant rubbing on a case could reduce the life of the adhesive (this assumes the magnets in a case with the DUEX Plus attached). They may require the removal of preciously collected laptop cover stickers, and the magnets may not be something a corporate IT organization wants to support.
Personally, I only own a MacBook 12-inch, which is coddled in a sticker-covered case. I didn’t find the DUEX Plus value proposition high enough to remove those layers to adopt a display that is too large for the 12-inch frame to start. I ended up crossing my fingers and using my HP X360 to evaluate the DUEX Plus’s magnetic mounts.
Depending on the laptop, the Mobile Pixels DUEX Plus case may extend beyond the edges of the laptop case, as it does with my HP X360, changing its size, and, therefore, requiring a larger bag. The display also nearly blocked access to the angled charging port of the corner of the X360’s case.
The other problem with magnets is on 2-1’s, like the X360, as they eliminate the ability to fold the back flat and use the device as a tablet.
Another big issue for the DUEX Plus is its stability. The DUEX Plus changes the center of gravity for a laptop, which makes setting the optimal viewing angle impossible. When I adjusted to a good viewing angle, the laptop tipped backward, so I had to change to a suboptimal viewing angle to keep the laptop flat.
More importantly, perhaps, the DUEX Plus caused my HP X360 to slide off its usually very stable TwelveSouth Curve stand. The change in the center of gravity made using the stand untenable.
I also hesitate to use the display over an open space (like having the display jutting out over the edge of a desk), because I don’t trust the adhesives remaining affixed. Adhesive failure would cause the display to dangle precariously, if not crash to the ground.
I removed the magnets immediately after my evaluation and found them not too hard to unbind, despite the 3M branded adhesive. I had one magnet where the adhesive cover split during application, making that one likely less sticky as I had to fiddle with it to get the protective cover off.
There are a number of other ways to attach slim mobile displays to a laptop. I don’t see magnets as the optimal solution.
The DUEX Plus suffers from a design idea that didn’t get tested enough before shipping. It’s getting tested now. The slim display, which should be the hero of this story, ends up in the subtext because the trick of the product, its case and how it attaches to laptops, doesn’t deliver on expectations. And that’s a shame, as it is hard to recommend spending $399 on a solution where only half of the design lives up to the promise.
As a side note, the DUEX Lite may have performed better in terms of weight distribution, given the ultraportable lightweight laptops I have in my inventory (I also didn’t want to stick magnets on evaluation laptops that need to remain pristine for return). I did not, however, have the 12.5-inch DUEX Lite to evaluate. While testing the DUEX Plus on a larger 2-in-1 laptop would perhaps eliminate the center of gravity issue, it would not change any of the other comments about the magnetic mounting approach,
I would also like to see the internal blister pack either replaced with a paper-based design or made of recycled plastic, or at minimum, recyclable material.
Mobile Pixels DUEX Plus: The Bottom Line
I will travel with the DUEX Plus. I will use it primarily as a portrait display for writing. I will not attach it to my laptop. Anyone considering a purchase should determine if their laptop is hefty enough to support it before buying. If you have a 15.6″ laptop or larger, and it isn’t a 2-in-1, then using the DUEX Plus as designed might work. Otherwise, I would suggest using it as a portrait monitor or coming up with a workable solution for using it as a detached portrait monitor—and I know that kind of negates Mobile Pixels’ main design point.
What Mobile Pixels really needs to do is rethink the cover, scrap the magnets, and include solutions for detached portrait and landscape in the box. A fold-out hinge on the cover would be the right answer—just make sure that it still offers balance for a portrait display as well.
Mobile Pixels provided the Mobile Pixels DUEX Plus for review. Images courtesy of Mobile Pixels unless otherwise noted.
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