I would like to thank Mobile Pixels for supplying the review sample.
Mobile Pixels focuses on providing additional portable screens to your notebook setup. Unlike most portable monitors, the DUEX and TRIO series attach to the back of your notebook screen housing and may then be used in various configurations while retaining the portability of the laptop. The DUEX Plus is their mid-range 13.3" option, but features the same versatility as the larger DUEX Max, which just launched successfully via Kickstarter, but at a cheaper price point.
Packaging and Contents
The Mobile Pixels DUEX Plus ships in a full color cardboard box that should stand out nicely in retail, but you may order it directly from the company as well. The front of the flat box clearly focuses on selling the product, while the rear dives into a bit more detail about functionality and specifications.
Inside, in the first layer, you will find the display packed into a protective bag. Below that is a molded plastic tray for all the smaller accessories.
The cable Mobile Pixels provides with the DUEX Max is about 3 feet long and sports an angled USB-C connector on the end that attaches to the display, while the other for the host system has a combo plug for USB-C and USB-A. This makes the DUEX Plus a pure USB powered screen; as such, no HDMI interface is present. You also get some sheets of thicker paper that help with installing the screen and a little pouch with additional documentation, wipe to clean the notebook before installation, and 12 additional sticky pads.
A Closer Look
Out of the package, the DUEX Plus is nice and lightweight for a display of this type, which is mostly achieved by utilizing plastic instead of a heavier material like metal. This is quite necessary as your notebook's hinges will need to support that extra weight; as such, lighter is better. From a design perspective, the DUEX Plus feels a little bulkier than the DUEX Lite, which in turn gives the user better grip when sliding the screen out.
There are four elongated metal pads on the interior side of the screen housing. These each hold a strong magnet. You are meant to install the screen centrally on your device, and it pulls out towards the side on the metal pads, so the hinge is at the edge of your notebook screen. Mobile Pixels raised the edges around the magnets a bit to ensure the screen can't easily slide up or down, while allowing horizontal motion.
The Mobile Pixels DUEX Plus sports two USB-C type connectors, one of which is Thunderbolt. No matter which one you use, the other can be used for passthrough power to your phone, for example. Three buttons on the back give you quick access to the central OSD and direct brightness control.
Sliding the DUEX Plus out fully, you can see that the back panel is essentially solid, but does have some extra branding for those curious onlookers at your local caffeine dispensary who may wonder what you got there. On the opposite side, with the screen exposed, there is not much else to see. Unlike some other brands of portable screens, Mobile Pixels did not brand the frame of the screen.
Installation and Use
Set up is pretty straightforward as you simply place the template to figure out where the magnets go and attach them to the surface of your notebook's top cover. However, I was a bit nervous about attaching four magnets to my expensive MacBook Pro. While Mobile Pixels has done a good job simplifying the process with the template, there aren't any real tools and instructions on how to remove the magnets safely. I ended up using cardboard papers to seesaw back and forth underneath the magnet, which did the trick. Mobile Pixels could just add a credit-card sized plastic card to the accessories and label it a removal device.
Once the magnets are in place, you can simply put the DUEX Plus in place. It holds up better than the DUEX Max thanks to the magnets keeping the display from sliding down, which is something the DUEX Max doesn't do as well.
Before we dive into using the screen, there is the central OSD. You may trigger just the brightness setting directly by pressing the up or down buttons. Pressing the center button brings up this full view instead. Besides the usual brightness, contrast, and temperature settings we have seen on most other display of this type, Mobile Pixels provides a less common "EyeCareMode." This simply toggles the temperature of the screen to be warmer, which reduces the blue light human eyes can struggle with. Then there is a more unique G-Sensor, which will flip the screen image automatically should you rotate it physically so that it may slide out the other side.
The core intended setup these DUEX screens are meant to be used as feels a bit out of place initially. One is simply not used to having a firmly attached second screen on a notebook. That said, having it is great, but due to the nature of the laptop with its upward-angled display to provide a 90° angle to your eyes, the DUEX display angles upwards slightly as well, which takes a little getting used to. Being a USB-interfaced screen, the lower brightness was to be expected as it can only draw so much power from a connector. The images above are at 100%, which is basically what you should run the DUEX Plus at by default to really get the most out of it. Being a 1080p display, you get a pretty classic 156.23 PPI density considering it is a 14.1" screen. Flipping it over can quickly and simply be done while the device is connected because of the magnets.
Watching our favorite movie trailer that might as well just be a Tom Cruise tribute at this point, the DUEX Plus managed to work quite well in general, offering enough brightness and contrast for casual viewing. That same sentiment goes for office work, as the DUEX Plus works well in general scenarios but should not be your go-to secondary screen if doing professional photo or video productions.
Further underscoring the use in an office or sales work environment, the DUEX screen series provides the ability to flip the screen to face a person in front of you, which could be quite useful in a meeting or presentation.
On top of that, thanks to the housing, you may simply stand the DUEX Plus upright in portrait mode. Funnily enough, this scenario immediately felt like it has a lot of potential for that second screen in a more stationary sense; say, your home office. The G-Sensor does not trigger in this state, so you have to manually set the screen up within the host operating system.
The Mobile Pixels DUEX Plus retails at $299 (Editor's Note: Ignoring the "sale" on the website as that is more of a marketing exercise vs. reality) . At that price, it is $50 less than the MSRP of the larger DUEX Max, but you are certainly paying a premium for its versatility compared to traditional portable 1080p monitors, as those sell for around $200. For that cost of entry, you receive a screen that manages to merge with your notebook fairly nicely to become a single unit.
The choice to exclude an HDMI port is fine, as the DUEX Plus may then use a single cable for both power and data. Mobile Pixels does consider the scenario of being limited to USB-A 3.0 plugs on your notebook, which makes the DUEX Plus truly plug and play. While the display doesn't push the boundaries, the inclusion of the G-Sensor is a nice, useful touch. On top of that, being able to use it in portrait mode could also be beneficial to stationary desktop environments. Being a portable screen, you may use it with mobile devices capable of piping video out, like the Nintendo Switch. However, you would have to find a separate power source for the DUEX Max to connect to the second port.
If this type of device fits your needs, it really comes down to how much screen real estate you need. Mobile Pixels provides that same 1080p resolution across all its displays, from the 12.5" DUEX Lite to the 14.1" DUEX Max, which has it offer something for all general notebook sizes out there.