Our laptops, tablets and smartphones serve us well when we're away from home or the office, but sometimes we want more. More speed, more storage and much more screen. We can already buy portable screens, but few tick as many boxes as the minimalist BladeX and BladeX Pro.
The team at Odake in Walnut, California has been working for over a year on designing, prototyping and testing what it describes as the slimmest, on-the-go, touch-screen-monitor, for laptops, tablets, phones and gaming consoles. Basically, almost anything you can connect via USB-C or HDMI will connect to the BladeX, which is currently raising funds on Indiegogo.
And the BladeX is certainly slim, in fact Odake claims that the BladeX is the slimmest monitor ever - at only 4.5 mm (a little under 0.2 in). That measurement is for the display section only though. Odake's clever use of the stand is the reason the BladeX screen can be made so thin. While providing stability to the monitor, the stand also contains the stereo speakers, the battery and all the connectivity ports – a headphone jack, two USB-C ports (one for charging), two Micro-USB ports and the HDMI port. All this only adds around 9 mm (0.35 in) to the BladeX when its folded into its case. And it's light too, all up the device weighs in at only 860 g (1.89 lb). Not bad for a 15.6-inch monitor.
While the BladeX doesn't clip to your laptop screen like some of the offerings out there, the stand is still pretty versatile, with four viewing positions: horizontally (with adjustable angle), vertically in portrait mode (for coding, writing or just looking quirky), laid down in studio mode like a tablet (using the stand as a prop) or, hand-held (especially useful if you're playing games which take advantage of the touchscreen).
Odake has created two variations of the BladeX for potential users. The BladeX and the BladeX Pro are physically and structurally identical, with all the same ports. The difference is the screen itself – and a monetary difference of course. The BladeX (1080p) has a 1,920 x 1,080 FHD touchscreen, while the BladeX Pro (4K) packs a 3,840 x 2,160 4K UHD non-touch screen. For most, the trade off is simple. Do you want touchscreen functionality, or super hi-res visuals?
Odake's idea was to create something you could use for hot-desking, or take with you to hotels, airports, and coffee shops, with as little hassle as possible, while still being incredibly versatile. And this is a very versatile piece of kit. As Odake states on the crowdfunding page, the BladeX is basically a big Surface Pro without a computer or a tiny TV without a tuner. It just needs something plugged into it.
Taking your gaming console or portable DVD player on holidays? Plug it into your BladeX. Demonstrating your design concepts to clients sitting on the other side of the table while you're making live updates on your laptop? Mirror your laptop display on the BladeX. Perhaps you regularly visit your hip local coffee shop to conspicuously edit your documentary on the history of axe-throwing, and simply can't cope any longer with all the space Adobe Premiere takes up on your screen. Plug in your BladeX, extend your screen, move those pesky control-panels over and order another macchiato.
It's important to reiterate at this point that the BladeX has a battery. Sure, that may seem a small point, but many of the BladeX's direct competitors in the portable monitor space don't. To save space, some either require an AC power pack plugged into the wall, or draw power directly from your laptop via a USB-C cable. The BladeX battery is rated at 3,000 mAh and should last for around three hours per charge.
Indiegogo pledges for the BladeX and BladeX Pro begin at US$209 ($359 RRP) and $309 ($599 RRP) respectively, which includes all cable, and a choice of silver or black. Additional perks are now available, including the BladeX Pen at $10, the BladeX Premium Case at $20 and the Odake Stand (to raise your BladeX) at $15. Odake has exceeded its crowdfunding goal of $20,000, having raised over $310,000 at the time of writing. If all goes to plan, worldwide shipping is estimated to start in November.
A video putting the BladeX monitor through its paces can be watched below.
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