Another day, another interesting gadget makes the rounds on the Internet – This is a very large (at least in terms of aspect ratio) portable monitor with an 8.8-inch display with a resolution of 420 x 1920. It is called the Elsonic EK-MD088, and while its size, shape, and built-in stand make it fascinating, it also begs the question: what would you use such a narrow monitor for anyway? And what better way to spend your 14,800 yen (about $ 130)?
Gizmodo mention, that the most obvious use case for such a large screen: It seems made for endless scrolling through Twitter or Instagram to keep the gloom of the ubiquitous internet next to your work. Honestly, this seems like a great way to destroy your brain – when I first saw it, I immediately thought it would be good to keep chat apps like Telegram and iMessage open on the side so I can keep an eye out what friends there are and family were out all day. You can also use it as a dashboard to monitor your IoT devices, or for more quirky purposes – like seeing their full potential Long cat Experience without scrolling or looking the big tweets.
Above: the type of content this screen was created for.
There are some notable quirks to the Elsonic, however. For one Ars Technica Remarks that it doesn’t look like it will be readily available outside of Japan (and even there it won’t ship until February 2022). Even worse, however, is that USB-C is used for power … but not for video. Instead, the monitor has a relatively obscure mini-HDMI port to process input, which is a pretty big drawback for ease of use. If you forget your display cable somewhere, you probably won’t run into someone who can lend you a full-size HDMI to Mini HDMI cable. It also doesn’t seem to have a built-in battery. While the screen and clever built-in stand fold up to a compact size, you would lose some of that space savings to the battery bank that you want to bring along with it.
The Elsonic is only, and I know that sounds silly, very tight. While that’s fine for newsfeeds and timelines, it would be tricky for general use – popular secondary monitor apps like Slack can get pretty shaky at 420 pixels wide or even refuse to go that tight. While the product page states that you can use it horizontally too, which would fix the app width issue, 420 pixels is barely a vertical height; You could see maybe three tweets or messages if you factor in the system tray and window chrome.
Also, one of the marketing images shows someone editing code on it. That seems absolutely unbearable unless you can somehow write your functions in 50 characters or less. Visual Studio Code lets you resize a window small enough to fit on Elsonic (as opposed to my Nova code editor), but at what price?
While it’s easy to see how attractive a vertical screen is to carry around with you, you almost certainly have better options. For desk use, many standard 16: 9 and 16:10 computer monitors have stands that you can use to align them vertically, giving you even more screen space. this LG monitor that is currently on sale is about $ 50 more than the Elsonic, but it’s also 24-inches instead of 8.8-inches, and with its 144Hz refresh rate in landscape mode, it could double as a decent low-cost gaming monitor. You could probably get a monitor that could be turned on its side too, much cheaper than the asking price of the EK-MD088 when shopping locally for used, office-oriented Dells.
If bigger isn’t better for your use case, or if you’re looking for a portable solution, there’s always a place to buy a used iPad. Apps like Duet ad you can use the tablet as a second monitor for a Windows or Mac PC (or even wirelessly with Duet Air or The built-in sidecar utility from macOS) and can even support vertical alignment. Combine an iPad Mini with a stand and you have a slightly shorter but wider version of the Elsonic. And of course, if you use it as a screen, it will be a tablet too.
While these solutions are more practical for most use cases, I’ll admit that they don’t have the fun factor that the big boi does and that there are niche use cases where the Elsonic makes more sense. And hey, maybe I’m completely wrong about that, and we’ll all have dedicated screens for Twitter around this time next year – though that thought is almost too terrible to consider.