The GeChic On-Lap 2501M is the world's first 15.6-inch monitor with a built-in battery, but is it worth your cash?
The multi-monitor set-up is as practical as it is cool. With an ever-increasing number of processes, applications, media players and web browsers jockeying for screen real estate, expansion is becoming a necessity. Plus, it makes you feel like Hugh Jackman in Swordfish.
However, not everyone has the literal desk space for those extra pixels, and that's part of the appeal of the GeChic On-Lap 2501M portable monitor.
This is the world's first 15.6-inch monitor with a built-in battery and, as such, it's not meant so much for your desktop as it is for your tablet or smartphone. It even comes with a little smartphone cradle that attaches to the front.
GeChic is a Taiwanese company that has been quietly putting out external monitors for a couple of years now, offering decent but unspectacular devices that come in with an attractive price tag.
The 2501M though is a bit of a change of pace and plays to our ever-increasing love of mobile tech by offering a way to bump up the screen size for presentations, gaming, or just kicking back with a new episode of Homeland.
At £179, it's still got that attractive price tag and GeChic kindly lent T3.com a review sample to test out. Read on for our thoughts on the 2501M's pros and cons.
GeChic On-Lap 2501M: Build and design
Trying to make a computer monitor attractive isn't the easiest job in the world, but GeChic hasn't done a bad job by any stretch. The 2501M looks almost like an overstretched tablet thanks to the black, brushed-metal casing and 13mm thickness.
The bezel is undeniably thick, but that's partly because the right-hand side houses touch-sensitive controls for adjusting the volume of the built-in speakers and selecting the input.
A small, square indent at the bottom right of the bezel is a magnetised placeholder for the attachable smartphone holster. A good theory in principle, but in practice when a smartphone is hooked up and sitting in the holster, the wire will obscure the right part of the screen as it attaches to the ports located on the right edge of the screen.
The monitor can stand independently thanks to an attachable black plastic cover that swings back on itself to provide a stand. Its firm and holds the On-Lap steady, but takes up a great deal of desk space itself because it's the equivalent size of the monitor lying flat.
This does mean though that when you take the monitor down and stow it away, you don't need to worry about scratches on the screen.
GeChic On-Lap 2501M: Features
The GeChic On-Lap 2501M has the necessary connection ports for the majority of devices and comes with all the cables you need to plug-and-play out of the box.
For smartphones, there's an MHL-enabled Micro-USB port that will play with any smartphones equipped with MHL (mobile high definition) mirroring.
The majority of Android handsets, including the HTC One X, Sony Xperia T and Galaxy Nexus support the feature although the Samsung Galaxy S3 users a newer 30-pin socket - for which you'll need an adapter. The iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 are also compatible although the 2501M doesn't arrive with any Apple-compatible cables.
Next up is the Micro HDMI and Mini VGA ports that let you connect a tablet, laptop or desktop to the On-Lap 2501M. Lastly, the DC-IN slot lets you charge up the On-Lap's 9,300 mAh Lithium ion polymer battery.
Two built-in speakers can be found on the back of the monitor at either side. While these are suitable for individual usage, the lack of volume and slight tinny quality will dissuade group viewing. There's also a 3.5mm headphone jack if you don't fancy using the speakers.
GeChic On-Lap 2501M: Performance
In practice the GeChic On-Lap performs exactly as expected with the auto-source scanner picking up the input quickly and mirroring your screen with a crisp and bright display.
GeChic claims a battery life of six and a half hours on full brightness and volume. While we found this an overestimation, the battery will easily carry you through a film and then a couple of hours of work time. However, the sheer fact of having a monitor with a built-in battery scores points with us - no need for a heavy AC adapter and the search for a spare plug.
You simply switch it on, plug it in and get going.
The 15.6-inch screen uses a 16:9 aspect ratio which suits for watching films and playing games - tasks GeChic highlighted with the 2501M's accompanying press literature.
The 2501M has a matte display, which soaks up some of the reflections from sunshine and bright light that would bounce back on a TFT-coated monitor.
We found the biggest sticking point in terms of the 2501M's performance was the 1,366 x 768 pixel resolution. Given that most smartphones coming out in the next couple of months boast Full HD 1080p screens, the 2501M is a step up in size, though not in quality.
You'll be able to manage 720p HD, but for example if you've shot some 1080p video with the new Sony Xperia Z and want to watch it back, you'll need to downgrade the quality. Part of the reason for the lower resolution is obviously to keep the price down, and if you're not as much as a resolution snob as we are then this shouldn't bother you too much.
GeChic On-Lap 2501M: Verdict
The On-Lap 2501M isn't what you'd call an immediate purchase. It's got limited appeal - and if you've already got a premium tablet with a pin-sharp resolution, you likely won't see the need.
On the other hand, if you're a photographer or a gamer it's a portable, effective way to plug in your DSLR or Xbox and enjoy a bigger screen on the go, thanks to the built in battery and speakers.
Likewise, if you suffer from cluttered desk syndrome but want a cheap additional monitor for your desktop then this is an excellent (and cheap) choice.
Its ease-of-use and portability are the 2501M's biggest selling points. If you're not too worried about bleeding-edge resolutions or the deep contrast of a Super-TFT monitor then this is a fine alternative. It can be pulled out and run off the battery when needed, then tucked neatly away 'til the next time.
On-Lap 2501M release date: Out now
On-Lap 2501M price: £179