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Lenovo ThinkVision LT1421 USB Monitor review

Home OfficeReviews
by John R. Delaney, 08 Jun 2012Reviews
Lenovo ThinkVision LT1421 USB Monitor review

Enter the Lenovo ThinkVision LT1421, a portable 14-inch monitor driven and powered by your laptop's USB port. Light enough to take with you on the road, this neat little display offers good color and small text performance, and comes with a protective cover that keeps it safe while traveling and doubles as a support base. You don't get great grayscale performance with this panel and you can't adjust picture settings like you can with a regular monitor, but if you need a second screen while on the road, the LT1421 is an excellent choice.

Design and Setup

Like nearly all ThinkVision products, the LT1421 is designed to complement the ThinkPad line of notebooks. The 14-inch TN+ panel has a resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels and a matte finish that keeps glare to a minimum and is non-reflective. It's housed in an attractive matte black casing with extremely thin (11mm) top and side bezels. The bottom bezel is 2.8 cm thick and sports a silver Lenovo logo, and there's a ThinkVision badge positioned on the upper bezel. A matching black plastic cover snaps into place to shield the screen while in transit.

The mini-cabinet is around 8.7mm thick at its thinnest point and only 22mm at its thickest where the mini USB port and stand are located. It measures 21.85 by 33.53 cm and weighs just over 1Kg and will fit easily into most laptop carry bags. The only other thing you'll need to pack is the included USB cable; the monitor gets its power from the host PC and does not require a bulky power brick.

The mini USB port is the only input connector on the monitor. It shares space with a single rocker switch that toggles through 16 brightness levels, a cable lock slot, and a picture frame-style support arm stand that lets you tilt the monitor as far back as 40 degrees. The arm offers plenty of support, but you can use the cover as a base if you prefer. Other than the brightness switch you don't get any picture settings, such as contrast and color controls, like you do with a typical LCD monitor and there's no power on/off control.

The USB cable is Y-shaped and has a mini USB connector for the monitor and two regular full-sized USB connectors for the host. I needed only one connector while testing the LT1421 with my ThinkPad X220, but certain applications may require drawing power from both USB ports.

Setting up the LT1421 is a breeze; once you've installed the drivers and DisplayLink software (included) all you have to do is plug in the USB cable. If you're using a laptop that doesn't have an optical drive you'll have to download the software and drivers from Lenovo's website. Once the screen powers up you can right click on the DisplayLink icon in the system tray to set the screen's orientation and resolution.

Here you can also choose to duplicate or extend the original laptop display, show the desktop only on screen 1, or show the desktop only on screen 2. Pressing the Windows key and the P key simultaneously launches a pop-up menu that lets you quickly choose between the computer monitor only, duplicate, extend, and projector (in this case, the LT1421) only.

Lenovo backs the LT1421 with a three-year warranty covering parts, labor, and backlighting. The monitor ships with the USB cable, a protective cover, and a Resource CD containing driver files and a user guide. Note that the monitor is not currently compatible with Windows 8 Release Preview as of the most recent driver available, v6.3, released on the 18th of May 2012. You can follow the latest updates on Windows 8 and DisplayLink compatibility.

Performance

The LT1421 offers great color quality. Swatches from the DisplayMate Color Scales pattern appeared well saturated and uniform, but weren't quite as punchy as what you get with the AOC e1649Fwu and its glossy screen. That said, I'll take a little less color pop for a non-reflective, smudge-resistant screen every time. The panel did a good job of displaying the various shades of dark gray on the 64-Step Grayscale test, but the last two shades of light gray were whitewashed. Small text reproduction was outstanding; fonts set to 5.3 points were crisp and clearly defined. Off-angle viewing was decent, but the picture appeared dull at around 70 degrees from dead center. The picture darkened considerably when viewed from the top and bottom, but unlike the AOC e1649Fwu, colors were still identifiable.

With the Lenovo LT1421 you don't have to do without a dual monitor setup just because you're on the road. At a little over 1Kg it's easy to travel with and its £111 price tag (at Lambdatek) won't kill your budget. You can save a few bucks and get a bit more viewable screen space with the AOC e1649Fwu, but it's not as slender and can't match the overall picture quality of the LT1421.

Pros

Lightweight. USB powered. Good color and text quality.

Cons

Weak light grayscale performance. Lacks picture settings.

Bottom Line

The Lenovo ThinkVision LT1421 portable 14-inch monitor is a great travel companion for users requiring more screen real estate while on the road.

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