Toshiba’s mobile monitor is USB-powered so you can plug it into a laptop without worrying about finding an extra power outlet. It’s fine as a display monitor, but not great as a second monitor for productivity. So the question is whether lawyers might find a display monitor useful.

Some undoubtedly will, and this is a light, convenient option with a built-in “stand.” But if you just want a second monitor, look elsewhere.

Price & features

The Toshiba 14″ USB mobile LCD monitor is about $150 on Amazon. You can get a decent regular 22″ monitor for about the same price. Of course, a regular monitor won’t function plugged into a USB port.

The Toshiba monitor comes in a nice leather folio case that unfolds into a stand of sorts (check out the picture above to see what it looks like). Other than that, it’s a 14″ monitor.

Setup is as easy as it should be. Software is included, but if you just plug it into your computer, Windows will find the DisplayLink software and install it. (According to at least one Amazon review, the included software will make the monitor flicker, but I didn’t have that problem with the automatic software download through Windows.) It is Windows-only, however. Mac folks are out of luck.

A second monitor for the office?

When I was doing full-time litigation, I usually finished drafting complaints with my clients next to me. I did this for three reasons.

First, when I handled auto accident cases, the defense lawyer would always push the complaint across the table at depositions and ask my client if he or she recognized the document. Even though they had seen it before, few of my clients recognized it. Now, I tell my clients that I want them to recognize the complaint the next time they see it and fully understand what they are signing, so we go over it line-by-line while they sit there.

Second, because clients often want to add detail or nuance to the facts later in the case. Sometimes, those “little” details can change everything. Sitting and working through the allegations in the complaint while my client is sitting next to me often results in a better complaint that will hold up to litigation, and far fewer little details popping up later on in the case.

Finally, I like using verified complaints because it makes the complaint into an affidavit, not just a set of allegations. That makes my job easier when there are early motions, because I often have all the supporting facts I need right in the complaint.

(Also, if you make an appointment to finalize and sign the complaint, it actually gets done.)

But in order to sit in the office and draft a complaint with a client, it’s a lot easier to have a second monitor for the client to look at. Or a projector, so you can put the complaint up on the wall.

I kept an old monitor around for quite a while, just for this purpose. When clients came in for complaint drafting, I would set my second monitor to mirror with my second monitor, and the clients could sit comfortably across the table and look at the same thing I was seeing.

Unfortunately, the Toshiba 14″ USB mobile LCD monitor isn’t a great choice for this sort of work. That’s because you need two spare USB ports to power it, and the USB cable isn’t very long. At the office, I have a fairly standard Dell mini-tower under the desk. Even when sitting on the edge of my desk right above my computer, the cord only just barely reached. I couldn’t stretch it to a place where the second monitor would be useful.

You’d be much better off with a second monitor you can use yourself when you aren’t working with a client.

A portable monitor for the road?

The best use of this mobile monitor, then, is on the road. To see how well it worked for that, I brought the monitor with me to the ABA TechShow, and set up a dual-monitor remote office in my hotel room.

My laptop is also 14″—the same size as the Toshiba—but the mobile monitor uses a lower resolution. That means when I look from one monitor to the other, it takes my eyes a moment to adjust. It’s like refocusing your eyes from something near to something far away. The brightness and “temperature” of the screens didn’t match very well, either (which you can kind of see in the image above), and so I found myself not wanting to look at the second monitor.

I’ve had the same experience before with trying to use my laptop alongside a mismatched second monitor. It just doesn’t work very well. If you are going to get a second monitor, the pixel density and the quality of the monitor should match your primary one. It’s best to just get two of the same monitor, in fact.

A display monitor for the road

This 14″ USB mobile LCD monitor really is meant to be a monitor that you don’t look at very often. A display monitor, in other words. For the road.

I can think of a few situations where this might be useful. Working on a document with someone or going over exhibits with a witness. You might use it at depositions, where it would be nice to be able to display exhibits as you might do at trial. You might even be the sort of lawyer who needs to make presentations to small groups often enough to make a second monitor useful.

Then again, viewing angles on this monitor are just okay. And if viewing angles ever matter, it’s when you want to show something to more than one person. If you sit the Toshiba mobile monitor on the table, it washes out a bit for even one person. I don’t think you could give more than a few people a good view.

So if you need a portable display monitor, this is probably the one to get. If you just want a second monitor, there are better options (and better deals) to be found elsewhere.


Toshiba 14″ USB Mobile LCD Monitor Review
Reviewed by Sam Glover on .

Summary: If you need a portable display monitor, this is probably the one to get. If you just want a second monitor, there are better options (and better deals) to be found elsewhere.

The Toshiba 14″ USB mobile LCD monitor is best for making presentations to very small groups, on the road. It’s great for its intended purpose, even if it’s not a great choice for a second monitor otherwise.

Rating: 4 (out of 5)