CrowView: A clamp-on, portable second laptop display
Elecrow's dual-screen peripheral is more versatile and cheaper than the old Lenovo version
CrowView is a 14-inch USB-C monitor with a cunning folding stand-cum-clamp system which allows it to attach to most sizes of laptop for some more pixels on the move.
The CrowView is a portable display, from the same company as the CrowPi 2 and CrowPi-L Raspberry Pi-powered laptops. As a lightweight 14 inch, 1920×1080 LCD, at first glance it is not very different from another laptop auxiliary screen, the Lenovo Thinkvision M14, which The Reg reviewed in 2019: same size, same resolution, to start with. The Crowview scores over the older device in several respects, though. First, it is slightly cheaper (although it doesn't have the words DON'T PANIC on the cover, or indeed, a cover at all). It is set to sell for $179 (£142), although pre-launch backers can get it discounted down to about $115.
Secondly, it also has a mini-HDMI port, for devices that can't drive a display over USB-C. And it has a headphone socket: although the device itself is silent, it can relay sound to wired headphones. At 400 nits, it is brighter than the Lenovo, too, and it comes with a supplementary power supply, for HDMI use or if your USB ports don't offer enough juice.
The really nifty feature, though, is its folding stand. This reminds us of a smarter version of a universal mount for attaching a smartphone to a car's dashboard, but it's more versatile. The Crowview can stand up on its own, either in landscape or portrait orientation, but the stand can also clamp also the lid of laptops from 13 to 16.5 inches, and hold the Crowview in three different landscape positions. The most obviously useful are either on the left or the right, where the hinge can flex 230° — and there's a fold-out kickstand to support this. Saying that, we tested it, and you can use the device this way on your lap. Apparently, it can also attach magnetically but we don't have anything suitable to test that.
The third mode is facing directly backwards, as what the company calls a face-to-face display, allowing you to show or present from the back of your laptop's lid. Finally, the stand folds flat across the face of the device, to offer some protection in transit. We carried it to Prague and back, across four flights, when travelling hand-luggage only, with no problem.
It draws 4.8 Watts of power in use, and is 13¾×8½ inches (35×21.7cm) in size. The screen is 1cm thick, and so is the stand, so folded it's 2.1cm (about ¾ inch) thick. It weighs some 1¾lb (800g), so it is heavier than the Lenovo screen, but that's the cost of the cunning clamp. We tested it with the latest versions of Windows, Ubuntu, macOS and the systemd-free MX Linux, and all worked perfectly, with no additional drivers or configuration needed.
Although it's still in the crowd-funding stage on Kickstarter, it has already exceeded its goal by nearly five times. The Reg FOSS Desk is rather impressed by the device and can see it proving very useful when on the move: we prefer two smaller displays to one bigger one, anyway.
The one orientation we'd like that it can't do is be positioned above your built-in display, but we can't see how Elecrow could implement that without considerable extra thickness. ®