10 October 2016

REVIEW: Packed Pixels

Need more screen?

Working from a laptop gives you the option to go whenever you need without having to lug something heavy around. However, if you've ever made the change to a laptop from a desktop computer with a large screen, you'll know how jarring it can be to lose all that real estate. Unfortunately, the bigger the screen, the bigger the laptop needs to be, so there has to be another way to get all that space back. There is – it's called Packed Pixels.

Packed Pixels is essentially a portable extra screen for your laptop – any laptop, in fact. It acts like a mini monitor in it's own right, connecting up to your laptop and then attaching to the side or top of the screen. Once you configure your computer to recognise it – hey presto, you've got a lot of extra space to play with.

Packed Pixels uses a strap clamp to affix itself to your screen, with one strap accommodating two additional screens. We were sent just the one to try, which instead of creating a super-wide desktop for you to use, is more like having a dedicated extra spot to drag a few open windows or programmes. For tech writers like us, this extra space was great for leaving browser windows with info open, without having to reduce the Word document on the main screen, or having to do the dreaded split screen thing.

And boy, does it look great. The screen boasts a retina display of 2048 x 1536 pixels, and considering that is all packed into a 9.7 inch screen, it'll probably be better than your laptop's main screen. That awesome display opens the doors to designers and photographers who might have laptops with lower resolutions. Stick on a Packed Pixels, do your editing or designing on that part of the screen landscape, and you'll see everything better.

There is one very important thing to note, however. Packed Pixels is not compatible with laptops with HDMI out ports only. The screens use DisplayPorts, Mini DisplayPorts, and Apple Thunderbolt ports, which means that most Apple laptops will be fine, as will Windows computers with those connectors. However, we're sure that the vast majority of Windows machines have HDMI for linking to external monitors, so make sure you know your ports before considering. Fortunately the are adaptors available to make HDMI compatible with DisplayPort. Oh, and they draw power from a good old USB port, which everyone has.

Packed Pixels comes with it's own little carry case to protect it while in your bag, and as the unit is exceptionally light it really won't weigh you down any more. The strap clamp is slightly less easy to transport, as it features two chunky bits of plastic. You can't really keep it attached to your laptop all the time, as it juts out either side, but it – along with the included USB and display cables that you'll need – can all be stuffed into a bag pocket, so no big deal.

If you need the screen space to work while on a laptop, this is great. Designers and serious gamers will really benefit from a removable extra screen with a spot-on pixel density, but writers and business folk... maybe not so. However, as the screens can be mounted facing away from you, you could always use it to give presentations, so maybe there is a place for it in the business world.

The price is pretty steep, but the quality of the image on screen is great, so this really could solve your working space issues.

£149 (or £289 for the dual pack)

© The Test Pit

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