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AirTab 15.6-inch Portable Touchscreen Monitor Review: Sleek, But Too Dim

Needs to be brighter. The AirTab is one of the slimmest and lightest in its category, but it's dragged down by one of the dimmest screens we've seen.

The AirTab is advertised as the "lightest 15.6-inch touchscreen monitor" money can buy. It's not widely available yet, but our review below on a pre-production unit will tell us what to expect and how it will compare to other portable monitors like those from Auzai or C-Force.

Additional details on the AirTab can be found on its official product here and Kickstarter page here.

More portable monitor reviews:

No, or more than one (0) Rating for the given SpecsID 316484 found

AirTab Portable Monitor 15.6-inch
Processor
Display
15.60 inch 16:9, 1920 x 1080 pixel 141 PPI, glossy: yes, 60 Hz
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 4.9 x 355 x 245 ( = 0.19 x 13.98 x 9.65 in)
Weight
940 g ( = 33.16 oz / 2.07 pounds) ( = 0 oz / 0 pounds)
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

Rating
Date
Model
Weight
Height
Size
Resolution
Best Price
06/2020
AirTab Portable Monitor 15.6-inch
,
940 g4.9 mm15.60"1920x1080
05/2020
MEMTEQ Type-C Portable Monitor Z1
,
770 g8.8 mm15.60"1920x1080
01/2020
Auzai ME16Z01 Portable Monitor
,
650 g9.4 mm15.60"1920x1080
06/2020
C-Force CF011S
,
750 g12 mm15.60"1920x1080
08/2019
Lepow Type-C Portable Monitor X0025I0D4P
,
770 g8.8 mm15.60"1920x1080
Monitor weighs approximately 940 g without the cover and 1160 g when the cover is on. The manufacturer says final production units may be even lighter
Monitor weighs approximately 940 g without the cover and 1160 g when the cover is on. The manufacturer says final production units may be even lighter
While the top and side bezels are very narrow, the bottom bezel is quite thick
While the top and side bezels are very narrow, the bottom bezel is quite thick
Toggle button on bottom right corner controls brightness. Annoyingly, pressing left increases brightness while pressing right increases it
Toggle button on bottom right corner controls brightness. Annoyingly, pressing left increases brightness while pressing right increases it
The magnets are quite strong and reliable; no sticky adhesives needed
The magnets are quite strong and reliable; no sticky adhesives needed
Unlike most other portable monitors, there is only one fixed angle for horizontal mode
Unlike most other portable monitors, there is only one fixed angle for horizontal mode
Sleek and clean rectangular design. Though the back is matte aluminum, the glossy front will collect fingerprints immediately
Sleek and clean rectangular design. Though the back is matte aluminum, the glossy front will collect fingerprints immediately
Unlike most other portable monitors and tablets, the included faux leather case covers only the front or back - not both
Unlike most other portable monitors and tablets, the included faux leather case covers only the front or back - not both
369 mm / 14.5 inch 222 mm / 8.74 inch 12 mm / 0.4724 inch 750 g1.653 lbs368 mm / 14.5 inch 225 mm / 8.86 inch 8.8 mm / 0.3465 inch 770 g1.698 lbs368 mm / 14.5 inch 225 mm / 8.86 inch 8.8 mm / 0.3465 inch 770 g1.698 lbs353.7 mm / 13.9 inch 229.5 mm / 9.04 inch 9.4 mm / 0.3701 inch 650 g1.433 lbs350 mm / 13.8 inch 224 mm / 8.82 inch 10 mm / 0.3937 inch 853 g1.881 lbs355 mm / 14 inch 245 mm / 9.65 inch 4.9 mm / 0.1929 inch 940 g2.07 lbs

Connectivity

There are two USB Type-C ports along the sides of the monitor. Only the left port will accept video while the right port will accept AC adapter power. If you want to connect via HDMI, then you're going to need a USB Type-C to HDMI adapter. Touchscreen functionality may not work if connecting through HDMI.

Bottom: No connectivity
Bottom: No connectivity
Right: USB Type-C for power
Right: USB Type-C for power
Top: No connectivity
Top: No connectivity
Left: USB Type-C for video and/or power
Left: USB Type-C for video and/or power

Accessories

The box includes only a faux leather case and USB Type-C to Type-C cable with no other accessory. Thus, you will have to provide your own AC adapter.

Display

The AirTab uses the same 15.6-inch 1080p Panda LM156LF-CL03 IPS panel as found on the Asus TUF FX505DY and Asus ROG Zephyrus G GA502DU. Subsequently, all of these displays are quite similar in terms of color coverage, response times, and contrast ratio. It's an average display overall as response times aren't fast enough for fast-paced games and gamut isn't wide enough for professional artists.

Unlike the aforementioned Asus laptops, however, the AirTab uses a glossy overlay for touchscreen support. The layer is quite thick and so onscreen texts appear slightly grainier than we would like especially for a glossy overlay.

There are no onscreen menus at all. Instead, a button on the bottom left corner toggles brightness in 9 different levels. Pulse-width modulation is unfortunately present on the lower brightness settings. 

Perhaps the worst aspect of the screen is its dim maximum brightness of only 206 nits when running on AC adapter power. If the monitor is using just a single cable for both video and power, then maximum brightness will drop to just 88 nits.

Glare is heavy and almost unavoidable
Glare is heavy and almost unavoidable
Side bezels are almost as narrow as the XPS 13
Side bezels are almost as narrow as the XPS 13
Subpixels are not as crisp as they could have been due to the thick touchscreen overlay
Subpixels are not as crisp as they could have been due to the thick touchscreen overlay
Moderate-heavy uneven backlight bleeding along the corners and edges
Moderate-heavy uneven backlight bleeding along the corners and edges
193.8
cd/m²
203.9
cd/m²
200.4
cd/m²
193.3
cd/m²
206.5
cd/m²
191.9
cd/m²
186.3
cd/m²
211
cd/m²
194.4
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 211 cd/m² Average: 197.9 cd/m² Minimum: 22 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 88 %
Contrast: 626:1 (Black: 0.33 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 4.25 | 0.6-29.43 Ø5.7, calibrated: 4.08
ΔE Greyscale 3.1 | 0.64-98 Ø5.9
60.8% sRGB (Argyll 3D) 38.7% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll 3D)
Gamma: 2.31
AirTab Portable Monitor 15.6-inch
15.60, 1920x1080
MEMTEQ Type-C Portable Monitor Z1
15.60, 1920x1080
Auzai ME16Z01 Portable Monitor
15.60, 1920x1080
C-Force CF011S
RTK2A3B, , 15.60, 1920x1080
Lepow Type-C Portable Monitor X0025I0D4P
15.60, 1920x1080
Odake BladeX 4K UHD
15.60, 3840x2160
Response Times
-28%
-23%
-16%
11%
6%
Response Time Grey 50% / Grey 80% *
36 (18, 18)
52 (26, 26)
-44%
38.8 (20.8, 18)
-8%
41.2 (20.4, 20.8)
-14%
30.8 (16.8, 14)
14%
40 (20.4, 19.6)
-11%
Response Time Black / White *
31.2 (19.6, 11.6)
42.5 (25.2, 17.3)
-36%
25.2 (16, 9.2)
19%
40.8 (26.8, 14)
-31%
23.6 (12.4, 11.2)
24%
24.4 (12.8, 11.6)
22%
PWM Frequency
1042 (20)
1000 (31)
-4%
201.6 (23)
-81%
1000 (99)
-4%
1000 (23)
-4%
Screen
-3%
-38%
-20%
-36%
36%
Brightness middle
206.5
198
-4%
300.7
46%
205
-1%
193.9
-6%
371.9
80%
Brightness
198
198
0%
267
35%
193
-3%
192
-3%
366
85%
Brightness Distribution
88
85
-3%
77
-12%
88
0%
88
0%
88
0%
Black Level *
0.33
0.2
39%
0.66
-100%
0.25
24%
0.75
-127%
0.31
6%
Contrast
626
990
58%
456
-27%
820
31%
259
-59%
1200
92%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
4.25
6.9
-62%
10.26
-141%
8.01
-88%
6.66
-57%
6.36
-50%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
18.11
15.9
12%
22.93
-27%
19.93
-10%
18.75
-4%
10.34
43%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 calibrated *
4.08
4
2%
5.05
-24%
4.3
-5%
3.83
6%
5.89
-44%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
3.1
5.5
-77%
9.5
-206%
8.3
-168%
7.6
-145%
3.7
-19%
Gamma
2.31 95%
1.59 138%
1.51 146%
2.1 105%
2.04 108%
2.19 100%
CCT
6994 93%
7310 89%
8200 79%
6106 106%
8567 76%
6474 100%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
38.7
40
3%
45.8
18%
38.7
0%
39.3
2%
91.7
137%
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
60.8
62.9
3%
71.5
18%
59.8
-2%
61.8
2%
100
64%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
-16% / -8%
-31% / -35%
-18% / -19%
-13% / -26%
21% / 31%

* ... smaller is better

Color space is narrow at just 61 percent of sRGB to be indicative of a budget panel. Nonetheless, this is common amongst most portable monitors.

vs. sRGB
vs. sRGB
vs. AdobeRGB
vs. AdobeRGB

Further measurements with an X-Rite colorimeter show a decently calibrated panel out of the box with a respectable average DeltaE grayscale of only 3.1. Calibrating the panel ourselves would improve grayscale even further while colors remain about the same due to the narrow gamut mentioned above.

Grayscale before calibration
Grayscale before calibration
Saturation Sweeps before calibration
Saturation Sweeps before calibration
ColorChecker before calibration
ColorChecker before calibration
Grayscale after calibration
Grayscale after calibration
Saturation Sweeps after calibration
Saturation Sweeps after calibration
ColorChecker after calibration
ColorChecker after calibration

Display Response Times

Display response times show how fast the screen is able to change from one color to the next. Slow response times can lead to afterimages and can cause moving objects to appear blurry (ghosting). Gamers of fast-paced 3D titles should pay special attention to fast response times.
       Response Time Black to White
31.2 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 19.6 ms rise
↘ 11.6 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 80 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is worse than the average of all tested devices (24.3 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
36 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 18 ms rise
↘ 18 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 636 (maximum) ms. » 31 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is similar to the average of all tested devices (38.6 ms).

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM detected 1042 Hz ≤ 20 % brightness setting

The display backlight flickers at 1042 Hz (Likely utilizing PWM) Flickering detected at a brightness setting of 20 % and below. There should be no flickering or PWM above this brightness setting.

The frequency of 1042 Hz is quite high, so most users sensitive to PWM should not notice any flickering.

In comparison: 51 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 9596 (minimum: 5 - maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

Viewing angles are wide with only minor color and contrast degradation as expected from an IPS panel. Instead, glare will be the bigger issue due to the dim panel and glossy overlay.

Temperature

Surface temperatures are quite cool with the front and back hot spots averaging around 27 C after an hour of use. In comparison, hot spots on the C-Force CF011S can become as warm as 40+ C.

Temperature map (front)
Temperature map (front)
Temperature map (back)
Temperature map (back)

Power Consumption

On average, the monitor consumes 12.2 W and 14.5 W when on the minimum and maximum brightness setting, respectively. Consumption is not very consistent either as it would range between 10 W and 16 W even when idling on desktop as shown by our graphs below. The C-Force CF011S is able to consume less at under 10 W without needing to compromise on brightness.

Power consumption over a 60-second period when on the minimum brightness setting
Power consumption over a 60-second period when on the minimum brightness setting
Power consumption over a 60-second period when on the maximum brightness setting
Power consumption over a 60-second period when on the maximum brightness setting

Verdict

In review: AirTab portable monitor. Test unit provided by AirTab
In review: AirTab portable monitor. Test unit provided by AirTab

The best aspects of the AirTab are largely visual. It's attractive, sleek, minimalist, and well built. The drawbacks, however, are numerous.

Firstly, the screen is way too dim which accentuates glare even when in a well-lit room. This becomes worse if not running on a dedicated AC power adapter as brightness will drop by over half. Secondly, the user will have to provide his or her own AC power adapter as none is included in the box. Thirdly, the protective case doesn't allow for many standing angles and it only protects one side of the monitor at a time. And lastly, the lack of any USB Type-A ports, HDMI, Mini-DisplayPort, or speakers hinders the versatility of the monitor. If you want to connect to a PS4 or Switch, for example, then be prepared to bring an adapter with you everywhere you go.

Furthermore, our pre-production unit would exhibit touchscreen issues where it would register inputs even if we weren't touching the screen. We can only hope that these problems will be addressed when the monitor becomes widely available.

With all these disadvantages in mind, the AirTab is at its best in indoor-only conditions for general web browsing, emailing, casual gaming or editing where ambient lighting can be controlled.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > AirTab 15.6-inch Portable Touchscreen Monitor Review: Sleek, But Too Dim
Allen Ngo, 2020-06-12 (Update: 2020-06-17)
Allen Ngo
Allen Ngo - US Editor in Chief
After graduating with a B.S. in environmental hydrodynamics from the University of California, I studied reactor physics to become licensed by the U.S. NRC to operate nuclear reactors. There's a striking level of appreciation you gain for everyday consumer electronics after working with modern nuclear reactivity systems astonishingly powered by computers from the 80s. When I'm not managing day-to-day activities and US review articles on Notebookcheck, you can catch me following the eSports scene and the latest gaming news.