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C-Force CF015C Portable Monitor Review

Allen Ngo 👁, 08/15/2019

Portable, but not that portable. The 15.6-inch CF015C 4K UHD portable monitor is sleek and lightweight for easy carrying. Unfortunately, it relies on a clunky external hub and several cables to actually work.

C-Force is a company on Kickstarter who aims to offer a series of 15.6-inch portable monitors of various native resolutions and features as shown by the handy comparison graphic below. These monitors are designed to be carried wherever you go in case you may need a second display at work, at home, or at the occasional coffee shop.

The pre-production unit we have here is the CF015C with a 4K UHD display that is expected to retail for $199 USD. See the official Kickstarter page here for more information on the series.

More monitor reviews:

(Source: C-Force)
(Source: C-Force)
C-Force CF015C
Processor
Display
15.6 inch 16:9, 3840 x 2160 pixel 282 PPI, glossy: no
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 6 x 356 x 226 ( = 0.24 x 14.02 x 8.9 in)
Additional features
6 Months Warranty
Weight
700 g ( = 24.69 oz / 1.54 pounds) ( = 0 oz / 0 pounds)
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

Case

The aluminum chassis is surprisingly rigid especially when compared to the more flexible Odake BladeX or Lepow portable monitors. This is perhaps the best aspect of the monitor because it proves that you don't need Gorilla Glass reinforcement to make a narrow bezel screen feel like a premium offering. Nevertheless, it is still quite easy to damage the unprotected matte display if one is not careful.

368 mm / 14.5 inch 225 mm / 8.86 inch 8.8 mm / 0.3465 inch 770 g1.698 lbs356 mm / 14 inch 226 mm / 8.9 inch 6 mm / 0.2362 inch 700 g1.543 lbs350 mm / 13.8 inch 224 mm / 8.82 inch 10 mm / 0.3937 inch 853 g1.881 lbs292 mm / 11.5 inch 201 mm / 7.91 inch 8.5 mm / 0.3346 inch 781 g1.722 lbs280.6 mm / 11 inch 214.9 mm / 8.46 inch 5.9 mm / 0.2323 inch 633 g1.396 lbs
Magnetic folio case is handy for protecting the monitor
Magnetic folio case is handy for protecting the monitor
Matte display will inevitably unsightly collect fingerprints
Matte display will inevitably unsightly collect fingerprints
Unfortunately, the magnets are weak and the monitor can slip easily when angled
Unfortunately, the magnets are weak and the monitor can slip easily when angled
Only one preset angle from the folio case
Only one preset angle from the folio case
Very thin and sleek considering the price
Very thin and sleek considering the price
No ports at all except for one USB Type-C port
No ports at all except for one USB Type-C port

Connectivity

There is just one USB Type-C port available that is designed to connect to the included CF120 hub only. Attempting to connect directly to a Thunderbolt 3 port on a laptop will not produce a picture meaning that users must carry the external hub everywhere they go if they want to use the monitor.

Front: No connectivity
Front: No connectivity
Left: Combination volume rocker and Power button
Left: Combination volume rocker and Power button
Rear: No connectivity
Rear: No connectivity
Right: USB Type-C port
Right: USB Type-C port

Accessories and Warranty

Included extras in the box are a short USB Type-C to Type-C cable, a second longer USB type-C to Type-C cable, screen protector, adjustable plastic stand, soft magnetic folio case, and a unique CF120 Video Central-Hub. This hub is required to use the monitor as it provides additional USB ports and extensions for both power and video data. There is no HDMI cable or AC adapter included.

The manufacturer offers a 6-month warranty instead of the usual 12 months.

Lightweight hub provides 2x USB Type-A ports, 2x USB Type-C ports, full-size HDMI, and a 3.5 mm audio jack
Lightweight hub provides 2x USB Type-A ports, 2x USB Type-C ports, full-size HDMI, and a 3.5 mm audio jack
Inside the hub is an active fan for cooling
Inside the hub is an active fan for cooling
The included instructions show how cumbersome the hub is. You have to connect a compatible AC adapter to the hub (step 1), connect a USB Type-C to Type-C cable from the hub to the monitor (step 2), then connect an HDMI cable from the hub to the source (s
The included instructions show how cumbersome the hub is. You have to connect a compatible AC adapter to the hub (step 1), connect a USB Type-C to Type-C cable from the hub to the monitor (step 2), then connect an HDMI cable from the hub to the source (s

Display

Display quality is average. The dense PPI should give a sharp picture in theory, but the matte overlay is slightly grainy and so overall picture is not as crisp when compared to the 4K UHD panel on some Ultrabooks like the HP Spectre x360 15. Furthermore, both the brightness and OSD controls on our pre-production unit are not working and so the display is stuck at ~200 nits even though the manufacturer is claiming 300 nits.

Both contrast and response times are good considering the low price. Ultrabooks with 4K UHD panels like the Dell XPS 15 or aforementioned Spectre have deeper blacks but slower response times.

Some SKUs will have edge-to-edge glass for touchscreen compatibility
Some SKUs will have edge-to-edge glass for touchscreen compatibility
Narrow side bezels are just ~8 mm thick
Narrow side bezels are just ~8 mm thick
Slight uneven backlight bleeding along the edges and corners
Slight uneven backlight bleeding along the edges and corners
RGB subpixel array
RGB subpixel array
179
cd/m²
188.4
cd/m²
188
cd/m²
191.9
cd/m²
205.7
cd/m²
201.8
cd/m²
214.7
cd/m²
215.9
cd/m²
219.8
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 219.8 cd/m² Average: 200.6 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 81 %
Contrast: 762:1 (Black: 0.27 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 5.61 | 0.6-29.43 Ø6.1
ΔE Greyscale 4.1 | 0.64-98 Ø6.3
100% sRGB (Argyll 3D) 88% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll 3D)
Gamma: 2.22
C-Force CF015C
15.6, 3840x2160
Lepow Type-C Portable Monitor X0025I0D4P
15.6, 1920x1080
Odake BladeX 4K UHD
15.6, 3840x2160
Dell XPS 15 9570 Core i9 UHD
LQ156D1, IPS, 15.6, 3840x2160
HP Spectre x360 15-df0126ng
AU Optronics AUO30EB, IPS, 15.6, 3840x2160
Response Times
9%
-7%
-39%
-45%
Response Time Grey 50% / Grey 80% *
32.4 (19.2, 13.2)
30.8 (16.8, 14)
5%
40 (20.4, 19.6)
-23%
52.4 (27.6, 24.8)
-62%
57 (26, 31)
-76%
Response Time Black / White *
27.2 (17.2, 10)
23.6 (12.4, 11.2)
13%
24.4 (12.8, 11.6)
10%
31.6 (18, 13.6)
-16%
31 (16, 15)
-14%
PWM Frequency
1000 (23)
1000 (25)
Screen
-51%
22%
10%
12%
Brightness middle
205.7
193.9
-6%
371.9
81%
451.9
120%
330
60%
Brightness
201
192
-4%
366
82%
414
106%
310
54%
Brightness Distribution
81
88
9%
88
9%
81
0%
87
7%
Black Level *
0.27
0.75
-178%
0.31
-15%
0.36
-33%
0.37
-37%
Contrast
762
259
-66%
1200
57%
1255
65%
892
17%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
5.61
6.66
-19%
6.36
-13%
5.62
-0%
4.03
28%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
10.87
18.75
-72%
10.34
5%
19.1
-76%
6.74
38%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
4.1
7.6
-85%
3.7
10%
6.9
-68%
4.49
-10%
Gamma
2.22 99%
2.04 108%
2.19 100%
2.2 100%
2.57 86%
CCT
5904 110%
8567 76%
6474 100%
6254 104%
6744 96%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
88
39.3
-55%
91.7
4%
71.8
-18%
61
-31%
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
100
61.8
-38%
100
0%
98.5
-1%
94
-6%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 calibrated *
3.83
5.89
2.69
1.96
Total Average (Program / Settings)
-21% / -41%
8% / 17%
-15% / 1%
-17% / 3%

* ... smaller is better

The manufacturer claims 100 percent sRGB coverage and our own independent measurements can confirm this. In fact, the panel covers nearly all of AdobeRGB as well meaning that it's capable of deeper colors than FHD panels found on most Ultrabooks.

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

Further measurements with an X-Rite colorimeter reveal only average grayscale but otherwise accurate colors against AdobeRGB. Color temperature, for example, is slightly warmer than anticipated at 5904. Strangely, our attempt to calibrate the display with the i1Profiler software did not result in any changes.

Grayscale (against sRGB)
Grayscale (against sRGB)
Saturation Sweeps (against sRGB)
Saturation Sweeps (against sRGB)
ColorChecker (against sRGB)
ColorChecker (against sRGB)

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
27.2 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 17.2 ms rise
↘ 10 ms fall
The screen shows relatively slow response rates in our tests and may be too slow for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 56 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is similar to the average of all tested devices (25.1 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
32.4 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 19.2 ms rise
↘ 13.2 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.9 (minimum) to 636 (maximum) ms. » 22 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is better than the average of all tested devices (40 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 not detected

In comparison: 51 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 9418 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

Viewing angles are wide with noticeable color and contrast shifts if viewing from extreme and unrealistic angles. This behavior is typical of most IPS panels.

Wide IPS viewing angles
Wide IPS viewing angles

Emissions

System Noise

The C-Force hub has a built-in fan that is always active when plugged in. It's quite loud at almost 41 dB(A) and so it will be audible and potentially annoying in a silent office, conference room, or work space.

Temperature

Adapter runs surprisingly warm
Adapter runs surprisingly warm

Surface temperatures are warmest along the bottom edge of the monitor where it can be 40 C to 50 C. This is generally not a concern since users will not be holding the monitor like a tablet.

Surface temperature (front)
Surface temperature (front)
Surface temperature (back)
Surface temperature (back)
Error: "0" heat distribution data found for specs ID 311092 / head id (should be one or two!)

Energy Management

Power Consumption

We're able to measure a draw of 17.5 W plus or minus a couple of Watts depending on the brightness level. This means that the usual 5 V/2 A USB ports are not enough to power or run this monitor and that a more powerful source is required. In contrast, the Lepow external monitor runs fine when powered by an everyday 5 V/2 A USB port. We recommend a 25 W or greater USB Type-C charger for the 4K UHD C-Force monitor.

Pros

+ very thin and sleek design
+ native 4K UHD IPS panel
+ rigid, high quality feel
+ wide gamut

Cons

- Brightness and OSD controls not working
- special hub required to use the monitor
- USB Type-A ports on hub not working
- no integrated battery or speakers
- hub is not silent; fan is always on
- box includes no power adapter

Verdict

In review: C-Force CF015C Portable Monitor. Test model provided by C-Force
In review: C-Force CF015C Portable Monitor. Test model provided by C-Force

C-Force has a long way to go. Aside from our unit having defective brightness and OSD controls, the reliance on a noisy external hub means you'll have to carry the hub and at least three different cables along (power cable, HDMI cable, and hub-to-monitor cable) just to even use the monitor. It's not a very portable or convenient solution when the monitor is closely tied to all of its accessories.

Another issue is that the box includes no AC adapter. You're going to need to provide your own 20 W or 25+ W USB Type-C AC adapter to power the monitor.

When you finally get the monitor going, however, the experience is pretty good with its deep colors and high native resolution. Even so, competing portable monitors like the Odake BladeX can offer a brighter 4K UHD experience without a cumbersome hub. The FHD SKUs of the C-Force can work without the clunky hub to be much more plug-and-play and user-friendly than this 4K UHD version.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > C-Force CF015C Portable Monitor Review
Allen Ngo, 2019-08-15 (Update: 2019-08-16)
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.