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Monday, November 29, 2021

You probably have better options than the candy bar monitor

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Another day, another interesting gadget doing rounds on the internet – This is a very tall portable monitor (aspect ratio wise anyway) with an 8.8-inch screen with a resolution of 420 by 1920. It’s called the Elsonic EK-MD088, and while its size, shape, and built-in stand make it intriguing, it also begs the question: what would you use such a narrow monitor for? And are there better ways to spend your 14,800 yen (about $ 130 US)?

Gizmodo Points out The most obvious use case for such a tall screen: She seems tailor-made for endlessly scrolling through Twitter or Instagram, keeping the ever-present darkness of the internet next to her work. Honestly, that seems like a great way to destroy your brain; When I first saw it, I immediately thought it would be nice to keep chat apps like Telegram and iMessage open, so I can keep an eye on which friends and family were up for the whole day. You can also use it as a dashboard to monitor your IoT devices, or for more whimsical uses, like getting the longcat experience without scrolling or seeing the high tweets.

Above – The content type this screen was created for.

However, there are some notable quirks in the Elsonic. For one, Ars Technica notes which doesn’t appear to be readily available outside of Japan (and even there it won’t ship until February 2022). Even worse, though, is that it uses USB-C for power … but not video. Instead, the monitor has a relatively dark Mini-HDMI port to handle the inputs, which is a pretty big downside for convenience. If you forget your display cable somewhere, you probably won’t meet someone who can loan you a full-size HDMI to Mini-HDMI cable. It doesn’t appear to have a built-in battery either, so while the display and smart built-in stand fold down to a compact size, you’d miss out on some of those battery bank space savings you’d want to carry. along with that.

Absolutely heartbreaking.

The Elsonic is fair too, and I know this sounds silly, very narrow. While that’s fine for news feeds and timelines, it would be difficult for general use – common second monitor apps like Slack can get pretty shaky at 420 pixels wide, or they may even refuse to go that narrow. While the product page says you can also use it horizontally, which would fix the app width issue, 420 pixels is just a vertical height; you could see maybe three tweets or messages when taking into account the taskbar and the chrome of the window.

Also, one of the marketing images shows someone editing code in it. That seems absolutely unbearable unless you can somehow write your functions in 50 characters or less. Visual Studio Code will allow you to resize a window small enough to fit in Elsonic (as opposed to my preferred code editor, Nova), but at what cost?

This seems … unrealistic.
Image: Elsonic, via Nojima Online

In the picture: what your window would look like if it actually ran at 420 by 960.

While it’s easy to see the appeal of having a vertical display that you can take with you, you almost certainly have better options. For desktop use, many normal 16: 9 and 16:10 computer monitors have stands that already allow you to orient them vertically, giving you even more screen real estate. This LG monitor that is currently for sale It costs roughly $ 50 more than the Elsonic, but it’s also 24 inches instead of 8.8 and could act as a decent, inexpensive gaming monitor in the landscape with its 144Hz refresh rate. You can probably also get a flip-flop monitor for a much cheaper price than the EK-MD088 asking price by buying used office-focused Dells locally.

If bigger is not better for your use case, or if you are looking for a portable solution, you can always buy a used iPad. Applications like Duet visualization allows you to use the tablet as a second monitor for a Windows PC or Mac via a single cable (or even wirelessly using Duet Air or MacOS built-in Sidecar utility) and can even support portrait orientation. Pair an iPad Mini with a stand and you’ve got a slightly shorter but wider version of the Elsonic. And of course it will also be a tablet when you are done using it as a display.

Image: Elsonic via Nojima Online

Look familiar?

While those solutions may be more practical for most use cases, I’ll admit that they don’t have the fun factor that the tall boi does, and that there are specific use cases where Elsonic makes the most sense. And hey, maybe I’m totally wrong on this, and we’ll all have dedicated screens for Twitter by now next year, although that thought is almost too horrible to consider.

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