Review: Versatile CrowView gives your laptop extra screen real estate
Two screens on a work desk is hardly a recent innovation, but turning this into a mobile office without a standalone tablet is. The figures vary, but studies consistently show that a dual screen setup increases productivity, compared to working off a single screen.
By the end of 2020, some studies estimated as many as 50% of the workforce were heading to their home office. While the pandemic forced a rapid workplace change, many employees have, given the chance, opted to remain away from traditional office spaces.
Elecrow’s CrowView clamping display, available at a discounted price on Kickstarter for around another week, allows for even more versatility, turning your laptop into a sturdy, stable and lightweight dual screen that makes setting up office at a cafe, public workspace, library or even by the beach or pool, very doable.
There are also no extra components to the system, besides a cable to connect to the laptop, so setup is easy and speedy.
Compatible with Windows, Mac, Chrome, Linux and Android, the 14-inch screen fits laptops ranging from 13 to 16.5 inches. The clamp system – top, and both sides – is easy to adjust and the device can clip on and off fairly easily. It has a Mini HDMI port, two full-featured USB-C ports and a 3.5-mm headphone jack. It's also 'plug and play,' with just the need to arrange its position in your settings and to choose the right input from the CrowView's menu.
Its 4.8-W consumption promises around three to four hours of charge; laptop batteries will vary, but the screen doesn't appear to contribute to any considerable power loss. However, you can also connect it to an external power source for unlimited running time.
At 800 g (28-oz), the Full High Definition (FHD), or 1920x1080p, screen is light enough to stay suspended when clamped on, and a stand that can extend from its support panel will relieve your laptop screen of any pull. (It works fine on a 15-inch MacBook Air without, but it’s a good option for use on transit such as planes or trains, easing any stress caused by bumpy rides.)
While not unique, this screen is a lot more versatile than many. It can clamp for right-hand or left-hand view, can be rotated 180 degrees in presentation mode, ideal for in person meetings and presentations to small audiences. The CrowView can also operate as a standalone screen, both upright and in landscape mode; these positions are ideal for boosting your Nintendo Switch screen when you’re on the move, or using with other gaming consoles like the PS4, PS5, and Xbox range.
There are some things to keep in mind. Storage when not in use can be a little tricky; folding the screen back to be flush with your laptop exposes it to damage or scratches. When removed and folded, you may need an extra case for it if your computer bag is light on spare room.
Like any external monitor, it occupies one of the laptop inputs – this is not a huge issue, since additional ports can be added fairly inexpensively, but it does limit your USB-C options (particularly if you’re also running your laptop power through one of these).
And while some extensions allow for a screen either side of your laptop, the CrowView limits you to one that’s attached, left or right of your main view. There is, of course, the option to run another as a standalone screen alongside your setup.
Its light weight is due to injection-molded engineering plastic surrounding the screen. It's durable and stylish, with a matte finish, and the hinge stands up to a lot of swiveling and adjusting. However, it's not foolproof and requires some delicate handling to avoid cracks close to the hinge attachment.
New Atlas has road-tested this screen for the past month, and the CrowView has put the desktop monitor out of business. However, if you’re flying coach on a budget airline, keep in mind that your seat partner may not be as impressed with the extension as you are; we'd recommend getting your work done before you board.
With a retail price of US$179, for a limited time it's available for $114.90 through Kickstarter, with delivery estimated to begin in October. For this, you get the CrowView display, a user manual, USB-A to USB-C cable, USB-C to USB-C cable, HDMI to Mini HDMI cable, and a power adapter (5V-2A) if needed.
Watch the video below to see the screen's setup and many moves.