If you’re someone who travels a lot, and also loves taking their gaming devices with them, then chances are you’ve ran into situations where you need a good TV screen. As someone who fits that criteria, I have certainly found myself more times than not having to wrestle with hotel rooms, and their mounted displays with hard-to-reach HDMI ports. It’s not fun, especially for screens flushed against the wall. My solution for the better half of the year was to take my tiny PC monitor with me and use that, but lets face it, no matter how tiny a TV screen or monitor you can get, there will always be the inconvenience of traveling with them, due to the bulkiness and their original intent for stationed viewing.
So to my surprise, there’s actually a line of displays dedicated to removing such annoyances that come with traveling. Meet the SideTrak Portable Monitor, a portable display capable of being powered via USB with connectivity support for consoles along other devices.
What’s in the Box?
|Refresh Rate: 50/60 Hz||Display colors: 262K Colors|
|Response Time: 30 ms||Panel Type: LCD|
|Aspect Ratio: 16:9||Resolution: 1920 x 1080|
|Contrast Ratio: 800:1||Brightness: 220 cd/m2|
|Power Consumption: 8W||Panel Surface: Glare (AF)|
To start this review off, let’s take a look at the content and set-up of the SideTrak Portable Monitor. First thing first, you have the small, 15.6 inch display that is well protected by the box’s packaging. The material used the houses the display is plastic, with a soft matted feel to it. It might not be the best material in terms of durability, but it’s light enough where it makes carrying easy.
Next we have the connection cables, which are USB-2.0 to USB-C, USB-C to USB-C, and mini-HDMI to full HDMI display cable. The latter two cables are used for powering purposes. Not really a whole lot of components (that’s a good thing,) and the set-up proves to be even less complicated.
Testing this out with a PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X, all you need to do is connect the HDMI cable to a system as with one of the two USB connection types. Don’t worry, as the power required to turn the display on is very low, with the USB ports found on any of those devices being just enough. That’s honestly all there is too it, no initial set-up, no driver or software updates, just direct plug-in play and you’re all set!
As Thin as Paper, as Sharp as a Knife
I do a lot of contract work (non-MP1st related) that requires me to travel all over the United States. My Last gig saw me traveling by vehicle from one end of the country to the other in the dead of winter. Not a fun one to say the least, especially knowing that said locations usually didn’t have any major shopping outlets or the most fun-filled activities.
Understandably I’m not in the most feel at home setting, though it does help to take a piece of it when I do go on these trips. With long periods of boredom inevitably to ensue on my downtime, what better to bring than a gaming console. Of course, it’s second nature of my gamer side to do just that, but one big thing I’ve learned in all my travel is that it’s wise to bring a spare TV screen, especially when staying in towns with not so up-to-date hotels.
Undoubtedly, the big issue with bringing a TV or PC monitor on travel is usually their sheer size, and/or bulkiness. There’s always a looming fear that you may accidentally break it just from driving, which is pretty common for people in the moving business. Plus, it’s not exactly the most inconspicuous item to be walking into a hotel lobby with. Thankfully, the SideTrak Portable Monitor fixes that issue, all while offering a gorgeous picture.
With a screen size of just 15.6 inches and a weight of 1.8lb, the SideTrak Portable Monitor feels like a great convenience to have. While I knew how big the screen was before receiving the unit, what I wasn’t expecting to be surprised by is how damn thin it is. To best compare, it’s almost like an iPad or a Window Surface Pro in terms of size and thickness. And much like those devices, the SideTrak is easily storable, with it fitting nicely in say a laptop case or whatever electronic bag you may use. Just be sure you protect the screen for obvious reasons.
As for the picture quality, the SideTrak Portable sports a 1080P resolution with a refresh rate of 60hz. And I know, it’s not the latest in resolution, but given the size of the SideTrak, this resolution fits just right. Image quality comes in superbly sharp and clear all thanks to pixel density, with the 60hz refresh rate running smoothly. There’s a low amount of latency, so playing games at 60fps (or less) is no problem.
More impressive however is how coloring is handled. Pictures all look vibrant, booming with colors, even with the HDR turned-off. Yes, you read that right, the SideTrak Portable has HDR support, which in my opinion is easily a better feature than a resolution bump.
While the display can also be stood up in portrait mode, I did find that this particular model really isn’t a good fit for it. This is mostly due to the location of the display ports being right on it’s side. Meaning if you wanted to stand it up, then you would have cables facing upwards, only to bend down to plug into whatever device. And it can’t be laying on the port side since it wouldn’t be able to stand. That’s not to say that it’s impossible to set it up in portrait format, it’ll just look a bit ugly. It doesn’t help either that the cables supplied are pretty short, so if you did plan on using this at home as an additional desktop monitor, be sure it’s situated on your desk close to where your PC is.
For me I don’t think that was much of a deal breaker since I prefer the landscape view, but if there was one nagging issue then it’s the menu button. While power has it’s own dedicated button, for whatever reason the menu button is tied to the volume scroll. It felt very flimsy and just trying to access the menu to adjust picture color and HDR proved it as at times it was unresponsive and even sticking. I consider the overall build to be exceptional outside of that volume/menu button.
A Worthy Travel Buddy
Outside of the tiny flaws I found, there really isn’t much to hate about this monitor. While, yes it is on the pricier ($269.99) side of things considering the size of TV you can get for it, there really isn’t much of an alternative when it comes to how easy and convenient it is. Just the fact that I can fit this in the same bag as my laptop, and even my console bag makes this well worth the buy. Beautiful design matched by it’s gorgeous image quality, the SideTrak Solo Freestanding Portable Monitor is the perfect companion to have for those lengthy journeys.
- Beautiful coloring and HDR support.
- Size is perfect to fit with your laptop in an electronic bag.
- Easy to set-up, USB powering
- Smooth 60hz with low-latency.
- General build quality is great.
- Even though it can be stood up for portrait mode, the power/display inputs location aren’t ideal to be in that position.
- Volume having a push button for the display menu is unresponsive at times, needing multiple pushes. A dedicated button, at least for source would have been better.
- Price* – A bit on the pricey end so may deter potential buyers away, though we feel what you get is justifiable
Where to buy?
The SideTrak Ultra Thin Portable Monitor is available for purchase at MSRP of $269.99. A unit was provided for review and marketing purposes via Chic Execs. Product tested for PC and consoles uses. You can read MP1st’s review and scoring policy right here.