There was a time when a second monitor was a huge luxury and a pain to use. But those days are behind us. The Ananta 17.3-inch Touchscreen Portable Monitor delivers plenty of connectivity options and doesn’t even need an external power supply if you’re using it over USB-C. But can it replace a tractional monitor? Or is there a little more than meets the eye here?
|Make and Model||Ananta 17.3-inch Touchscreen Portable Monitor|
|Size and resolution||17.3-inches at 1920 by 1080|
|Connections||HDMI, 2 by USB-C, 3.5mm headphone,|
|Accessories||15 W AC adapter|
USB-A to USB-C, USB-C to USB-C and HDMI cables
Active stylus pen with AAAA battery
Remote control with button battery
Protective case/ stand
The last portable monitor I looked at was one I liked so much I actually bought one. So I was curious about what Ananta could bring that would make me question that previous decision.
I connected my 2018 13-inch MacBook Pro to the Ananta monitor using the supplied USB-C cable. The monitor instantly powered up and I was able to choose between either mirroring my display or extending to the second screen.
My preference is to extend my display as the MacBook Pro’s display runs at a higher resolution. It makes sense, to me, to keep the laptop running at its peak and to use the second screen at its native HD resolution. At 17.3 inches, I’d like the Ananta unit to run at a higher spec but that would increase the price significantly. And, for a second portable display likely to be used for presentations and working on the road, HD is well and truly good enough.
Hands on with the Ananta 17.3-inch Touchscreen Portable Monitor
Image quality was very good. I found the images to be sufficiently bright and I was able to work for extended periods on text-based documents, spreadsheets and editing images. It’s important to recognise that the Ananta 17.3-inch Touchscreen Portable Monitor isn’t trying to take your eyeballs away from a premium desktop displayed that’s calibrated for maximum colour accuracy or gaming performance.
This display is filling a need for a portable display to complement your laptop, tablet or smartphone when you’re out of the office.
I also hooked it up to an iPad and iPhone using a Lightning to HDMI dongle. For this to work, you’ll need to use the supplied power adaptor and USB cable as HDMI doesn’t deliver power. But the power supply is small so it’s not going to add a heap of heft to your travel pack.
What about the touchscreen?
Apple, (in)famously, hasn’t released a touchscreen MacBook Pro, preferring to push people towards iPads if they want to tap, swipe and pinch on the screen. And preferably the highly-priced iPad Pro. So I Pro a taste of the touchscreen life.
On this score, the Ananta was somewhat erratic. The supplied pen worked some of the time but a stylus-based approach is not quite what people are really into in my view. A capacitive touchscreen would probably make a better addition. The idea of using a pen to open menus or select makes little sense to me.
But I can see the appeal if you can get it work reliably with a drawing app.
There were moments when the pen simply didn’t respond in my experience. That said, I’m not sure anyone looking for a portable display os doing it for the touchscreen. It’s all about increased productivity and entertainment in my view – something the Ananta 17.3-inch Touchscreen Portable Monitor does well.
My only significant issue
Connectivity and display quality are let down by one factor in my view – the stand. The Ananta 17.3-inch Touchscreen Portable Monitor comes with a foldable cover that protects the display when it’s being transported. The same cover can then be folded to allow the dis[lay to stand. But on the surfaces I tested on (my desk, a folding table and my kitchen table), it was hard to get the display to stand at a comfortable angle. And there’s no way to use the display in portrait mode either.
Other reviewers have mentioned a plastic stand for supporting the display but my unit didn’t have one as it was accidentally left out of my review kit.
The cover/stand is OK but I expect that the plastic stand would make life much easier.. But I think it’s one the makers can resolve. If you look at the review of the AOC monitor I referred to earlier, you’ll see they they have a reliable and flexible system for positioning the display and protecting it when you travel.
Where can you get it?
The Ananta 17.3-inch Portable Touchscreen Monitor is currently listed as a Kickstarter project. A US$379 pledge will get you a unit, with shipping planned for September 2020. That campaign ends on 24 July 2020 and has already reached its funding target.