Review: Make any laptop dual-screen with the Mobile Pixels DUEX Plus (Kickstarter)

Mobile Pixels Duex Plus LeadSource: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central

These days, multiple displays are becoming more common, whether it’s our phones, desktop PCs, or even laptops. Mobile Pixel offers a novel solution for those who want to add a second screen to their computer without buying a new PC — the DUEX Plus.

The $194 (early bird pricing) PC accessory goes on sale today via Kickstarter. I’ve spent the last few days playing around with it, and here is what you need to know.

Mobile Pixels Duex Plus Reco

Mobile Pixel DUEX Plus

Bottom line: The DUEX Plus lets you add a sliding second screen to almost any laptop. It’s surprisingly functional and elegant. However, the build quality, dangly wire, and clumsiness keep it from being a home run.

The Good

  • Clever design
  • Extremely useful when used
  • Decent price
  • Can flip around

The Bad

  • Build quality is OK
  • Clunky to set up and use
  • Won’t fit smaller laptops

Really clever idea

Mobile Pixel DUEX Plus: What I like

Mobile Pixels Duex Plus Lifestyle

Source: Mobile Pixel

The DUEX Plus is one of the only sliding secondary displays that I have seen on the market. It’s a great idea: stick the DUEX Plus to the back of your laptop, plug it in via USB Type-A or Type-C (needs display drivers), and now you have a second screen. You can also angle it nicely with the hinge, letting it save some space and sort of surround you.

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It’s an exceptionally light 600 grams (1.3lbs) thanks to ABS plastic’s generous use with some aluminum for the frame. There are two ports (one for connection, the other for charging), and the display can rotate 180-degrees depending on orientation, with a kickstand built in too. While I’m focusing on laptop usage, you can also use DUEX Plus with Android phones and the Nintendo Switch.

Category Mobile Pixel DUEX Plus
Display 13.3-inch
Resolution Full HD 1920 x 1080
Auto-rotation Yes
Touch No
Ports 2x USB
Cables Included
Hybrid Signals Yes
Eye-care mode Yes
Compatability Windows 10, Android, Nintendo Switch
Weight 600 grams (1.3lbs)
Thickness 6.35mm (0.25 in)

The display quality is OK at full HD and 13.3-inches. It is anti-glare, non-touch, with reduced blue light emissions, but it was more than good enough for using it for open tabs for research, group calls, or viewing an open document.

Attaching the DUEX Plus to a laptop is easy. Peel the back off the 3M adhesive found on the magnets and stick to the rear of the computer, leaving enough “hang off” space so you can pull the display out and angle it. The included guide explains how it should fit, and there are extra magnet pads in the box that for usage with multiple laptops or if you need replacements. The 3M adhesive is moderate, and it should not damage the PC when being removed.

The magnet design is clever, as it means the DUEX Plus is not permanently attached. You can pull it off for travel, storage, or when not needed.

Connecting the DUEX Plus uses a simple Type-A or Type-C cable (with an included Type-A adapter). There is a display driver to enable it to work on most laptops, and Mobile Pixel includes directions on how to set it up and install, with the whole process taking no more than five minutes.

Feels very DIY

Mobile Pixel DUEX Plus: What I don’t like

Mobile Pixels Duex Plus Hero

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central

Mobile Pixel is a relatively new company based out of Boston, with its founders being MIT graduates. That allows them to think out of the box, but it also poses challenges for supply chains, design, and balancing a product’s specs versus price and quality.

The engineering sample of the DUEX Plus I received works, but the ABS plastic lends itself to a kind of cheap feeling. Granted, ABS is used to keep the cost below $300 and to make it light for travel (it is only 6.35mm thick), but the whole execution feels a bit do-it-yourself (DIY) instead of a high-quality accessory (though the packaging though is top-notch).

While the magnets let the DUEX Plus come off for travel or when not needed, you are left with four circular magnets on your laptop, which is not a great look. And while the magnets worked well enough, setting up DUEX Plus along with the thick connector cable made it all a bit hacky in its feel and presentation. It works, but you feel a little goofy setting it all up, especially in public.

Due to laptops having a smaller footprint, the DUEX Plus is better suited for 15-inch notebooks or larger. A computer like the Razer Book 13 is too small these days, which should tell you something about the size of the railings needed to slide out the screen. However, Mobile Pixels offers a smaller 12.5-inch DUEX Pro ($249) and DUEX Life ($259) for such devices.

I am also worried about sliding the DUEX on and off the laptop, as there could be scratches on some more sensitive PCs like the Surface Laptop. Assuming the magnets hold, you should be able just to pull the DUEX up and off, but sliding could happen, and there may be a risk of light marring.

Mobile Pixel DUEX Plus: The competition

Lenovo Thinkvision M14t Hero

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central

Let’s be honest: there are not many alternatives to the DUEX line of mobile displays. At least not ones that attach directly to the laptop, slide out and articulate. Instead, there are separate mobile screens like the excellent Lenovo ThinkVision M14 (non-touch) and ThinkVision M14T (touch, inking). A more expensive option is the 4K HDR, inking-enabled XtendTouch Pro.

But if you want something like the DUEX, there currently aren’t many choices, which gives Mobile Pixels an advantage.

See our best external touchscreen monitors for what else we recommend.

Mobile Pixel DUEX Plus: Should you buy?

Mobile Pixels Duex Plus Reverse

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central

You should buy this if …

  • You want a portable second screen for your laptop
  • You want the screen to articulate and feel more natural
  • Want a more daring mobile experience
  • Work in mobile sales, or do work where a second screen would help

You should not buy this if …

  • You don’t need a second screen
  • You don’t like taking risks and prefer major brands
  • You don’t like the feel of ABS plastics and prototype tech

From afar, the DUEX Pro is a brilliant notion. Razer had a similar concept with its three-screened Project Valerie from 2017. And it is a good idea because, once it is set up, I found using the DUEX Pro more enjoyable than just a plug-n-play secondary display precisely because it felt more native. The ability to articulate the screen and keep it lined up with your primary display is similar to using multiple-screen setups on desktops.

But DUEX Pro also suffers from the quality and clunky execution that can be common with Kickstarter projects. It feels like this was someone’s garage project – an excellent garage project, but one that falls short of where HP or Lenovo would excel for what should be obvious reasons. That is not a total slight as I respect the startup ethos around this venture (especially for a new U.S. company), but I don’t want to oversell the DUEX Pro either.

out of 5

Pricing varies, as the limited ‘Early Bird’ special is a very tempting $194; a ‘fun versus risk’ bargain for some early adopters. Standard pricing goes up to $224, which is well below a suggested retail price that lands well over $300 (and then it’s a bit absurd).

The good thing about this concept is there are very few players right now offering something similar. So, if you like this idea, Mobile Pixels is the only current option. I’d like to see this idea fleshed out more and brought to a higher level, as I think there is something here. But if you want a genuinely safe bet, it is probably best to stick with more traditional portable screens.

Mobile Pixels Duex Plus Reco

Mobile Pixel DUEX Plus

Bottom line: The DUEX Plus lets you add a sliding second screen to almost any laptop. It’s surprisingly practical and elegant. However, the build quality, dangly wire, and clumsiness keep it from being a home run.

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