Portable USB-based monitors are a fantastic way to expand your productivity on the road, but they have a few issues. First of all, finding space to sprawl out your laptop setup isn’t always easy, and second, having a second screen you need to hunch down to look at just amplifies the basic ergonomic problems of the laptop form factor. Nex is hoping to solve both of those problems with the NexPad, a portable monitor that sits above your laptop’s screen instead of beside it.
In technical terms, there’s nothing particularly groundbreaking about the NexPad screen (spotted by Digital Trends). It’s a 12-inch, 1080p touchscreen with an IPS panel, which seems pretty fair for its $249 price tag. It attaches to your laptop via a USB-C cable, but it’ll also work over mini-HDMI or USB 2.0 if you’re okay with less performance. A second USB-C port allows pass-through charging, a handy feature for travelers that we’ve seen on designs like Lenovo’s ThinkVision M14. A shorty USB-C cable can be stored in the kickstand for easy stowage.
No, what you’re really paying for here is the design work. The massive “chin” beneath the screen is hiding several strong magnets, which attach to the rear of your laptop’s screen. (If your laptop’s hinge isn’t strong enough to hold up the 1.6-pound screen, you can add some stability with the included magnetic kickstand.) Connect the USB-C cable, and you’re ready to expand your workspace, touchscreen included. It’ll run off your laptop’s internal battery.
The NexPad can also work as a conventional portable monitor with a rather awkward blank space on the bottom, or use that massive magnet to stick an Android phone there and use a desktop-style screen mode, like Samsung Dex. All in all, it seems like a much more practical proposition than the company’s previous design, the NexDock, which makes you carry around a laptop-sized gadget that relies on Android and gives up the advantages of Windows, ChromeOS, or macOS. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s a lot cheaper.
Michael is a former graphic designer who's been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.