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MageDok 15 Portable Monitor Review

Allen Ngo 👁, 09/02/2019

Too dim. The crowdfunded-Indiegogo MageDok portable monitor feels solid to the touch with a strong chassis design. Almost everything about the actual display, however, is a letdown at this early development stage.

The MageDok is a series of portable external monitors consisting of the 13.3-inch MageDok 13, 15.6-inch MageDok 15, and 17.3-inch MageDok 17. The Indiegogo project is targeting a launch date of November 2019 with prices ranging from $199 to  $299 USD. More information can be seen on the official page here.

The unit we'll be testing is a pre-production MageDok 15 designed for gamers and multimedia playback. Can this relatively inexpensive monitor live up to its lofty promises of a 300-nit display, 1200:1 contrast ratio, 5 ms response time, and 72 percent NTSC color gamut?

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(Source: MageDok)
(Source: MageDok)

Case

The Indiegogo page advertises a weight of only 550 g for the MageDok 15. With our own scale, however, the real weight of the MageDok 15 is 1.08 kg without its protective folio case. We're not sure how the manufacturer recorded 550 g, but the monitor is definitely not that light. In fact, the MageDok is noticeably heavier than the competing C-Force CF015C, Asus MB16AC, and Lepow X0025I0D4P external monitors by a couple hundred grams each. The thick overlying glass display on the MageDok is at least partially responsible for the heavier weight.

Build quality is otherwise excellent and more representative of a high-end offering. The aluminum frame and glass overlay add rigidity to be narrow bezel design. Other monitors like the Odake or Lepow are more fragile.

368 mm / 14.5 inch 225 mm / 8.86 inch 8.8 mm / 0.3465 inch 770 g1.698 lbs360 mm / 14.2 inch 226 mm / 8.9 inch 8 mm / 0.315 inch 780 g1.72 lbs357 mm / 14.1 inch 226 mm / 8.9 inch 8.7 mm / 0.3425 inch 1 kg2.22 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 lbs
Strong aluminum frame improves rigidity
Strong aluminum frame improves rigidity
Bottom "chin" bezel is still quite thick
Bottom "chin" bezel is still quite thick
Menu buttons are large, labeled, and with firm feedback to be easy to press
Menu buttons are large, labeled, and with firm feedback to be easy to press
Included folio case does not use any magnets
Included folio case does not use any magnets
Instead, the case uses M3 sticky tape which cheapens the overall experience
Instead, the case uses M3 sticky tape which cheapens the overall experience
Back of the monitor is textured for a more luxurious feel and to repel fingerprints
Back of the monitor is textured for a more luxurious feel and to repel fingerprints
Stylized back will have glowing LED lights on some SKUs
Stylized back will have glowing LED lights on some SKUs
Protective folio case allows for four preset angles
Protective folio case allows for four preset angles

Connectivity

The MageDok has more ports than most other portable monitors. Its 4x USB Type-C ports make it a versatile monitor for connecting different types of inputs. Unfortunately, the monitor relies on the relatively uncommon mini-HDMI port and so most users will likely need an HDMI adapter.

Right: 3.5 mm earphones, USB Type-C, mini-HDMI, USB Type-C Power Delivery, 2x USB Type-C OTG
Right: 3.5 mm earphones, USB Type-C, mini-HDMI, USB Type-C Power Delivery, 2x USB Type-C OTG
Front: No connetivity
Front: No connetivity
Left: Menu buttons
Left: Menu buttons
Rear: No connetivity
Rear: No connetivity

Accessories

The following extras are included in the box:

  • Full-size HDMI to mini-HDMI cable
  • USB Type-A to USB Type-C cable
  • USB Type-C to USB Type-C cable
  • USB Type-C to 2x USB Type-A adapter
  • 2x Velcro ties
  • Protective folio case

Note that a traditional two-prong or three-prong AC adapter is not included. To power the device, you'll have to use one of the USB Type-C cables and connect to a laptop, desktop, or power bank instead in addition to the video cable.

(Source: MageDok)
(Source: MageDok)

Display

Display quality is somewhat disappointing and far from what is advertised on the Indiegogo page. Brightness is just 152 nits at maximum compared to the 300 nit claim. Contrast ratio is middling at just under 200:1. The picture is not very sharp either despite having a glass overlay as shown by the grainy RGB microscope image below. 

The most redeeming quality of the display is its relatively fast response times (~7.6 ms black-to-white) for reduced ghosting when gaming. Unfortunately, this means little when both brightness and contrast are so low.

Note that we performed all our measurements below at the default out-of-box settings with the brightness turned to maximum.

Edge-to-edge glass protection will attract fingerprints
Edge-to-edge glass protection will attract fingerprints
Narrow side bezels
Narrow side bezels
No major uneven backlight bleeding, but the low contrast ratio makes for a very gray-looking black
No major uneven backlight bleeding, but the low contrast ratio makes for a very gray-looking black
Grainy subpixels despite the glossy overlay
Grainy subpixels despite the glossy overlay
151.4
cd/m²
152.3
cd/m²
144.8
cd/m²
139
cd/m²
144.9
cd/m²
147.7
cd/m²
138.3
cd/m²
143.4
cd/m²
151
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 152.3 cd/m² Average: 145.9 cd/m² Minimum: 3.21 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 91 %
Contrast: 186:1 (Black: 0.78 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 5.79 | 0.6-29.43 Ø6, calibrated: 2.12
ΔE Greyscale 6.7 | 0.64-98 Ø6.3
90.7% sRGB (Argyll 3D) 58.2% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll 3D)
Gamma: 1.96
MageDok Atlas Gaming Monitor
15.6, 1920x1080
C-Force CF015C
15.6, 3840x2160
Lepow Type-C Portable Monitor X0025I0D4P
15.6, 1920x1080
Asus MB16AC
IPS, 15.6, 1920x1080
Asus VivoBook S15 S532F
LG Philips LP156WFC-SPD1, IPS, 15.6, 1920x1080
Apple iPad Air 2019
IPS, 10.5, 2224x1668
Response Times
-180%
-130%
56%
-128%
-307%
Response Time Grey 50% / Grey 80% *
10.4 (6.4, 4)
32.4 (19.2, 13.2)
-212%
30.8 (16.8, 14)
-196%
19 (9, 10)
-83%
24.8 (12.8, 12)
-138%
58 (27.6, 30.4)
-458%
Response Time Black / White *
11 (7.6, 3.4)
27.2 (17.2, 10)
-147%
23.6 (12.4, 11.2)
-115%
28 (15, 13)
-155%
24 (14, 10)
-118%
28 (10.4, 17.6)
-155%
PWM Frequency
4950 (99)
1000 (23)
-80%
25000 (25)
405%
Screen
52%
-17%
449%
16%
161%
Brightness middle
144.9
205.7
42%
193.9
34%
166
15%
262.3
81%
515
255%
Brightness
146
201
38%
192
32%
154
5%
250
71%
483
231%
Brightness Distribution
91
81
-11%
88
-3%
82
-10%
89
-2%
90
-1%
Black Level *
0.78
0.27
65%
0.75
4%
0.02
97%
0.43
45%
0.41
47%
Contrast
186
762
310%
259
39%
8300
4362%
610
228%
1256
575%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
5.79
5.61
3%
6.66
-15%
3.51
39%
5.81
-0%
1.6
72%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
8.43
10.87
-29%
18.75
-122%
10.49
-24%
14.7
-74%
4.4
48%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 calibrated *
2.12
3.83
-81%
5.36
-153%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
6.7
4.1
39%
7.6
-13%
2.49
63%
2.8
58%
2.8
58%
Gamma
1.96 112%
2.22 99%
2.04 108%
2.38 92%
2.15 102%
2.21 100%
CCT
6295 103%
5904 110%
8567 76%
6346 102%
7016 93%
6944 94%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
58.2
88
51%
39.3
-32%
41
-30%
35.2
-40%
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
90.7
100
10%
61.8
-32%
64
-29%
55.6
-39%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
-64% / 13%
-74% / -41%
253% / 358%
-56% / -6%
-73% / 67%

* ... smaller is better

Color space covers approximately 91 percent and 58 percent of the sRGB and AdobeRGB standards, respectively. This is about average when compared to a mid-range laptop and better than the competing Lepow external monitor.

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

Further measurements with an X-Rite colorimeter reveal poor grayscale out of the box. Color temperature is slightly too warm with poor RGB balance leading to more inaccurate colors at lower saturation levels. Our calibration addresses these issues for a significantly improved grayscale DeltaE (6.7 to 0.9) and color DeltaE (5.79 to 2.12). We highly recommend a calibration if possible to get the most out of the display and its relatively wide color space when connected to a Windows PC. Otherwise, users can still download and apply our calibrated ICM profile 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
11 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 7.6 ms rise
↘ 3.4 ms fall
The screen shows good response rates in our tests, but may be too slow for competitive gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 10 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is better than the average of all tested devices (25 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
10.4 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 6.4 ms rise
↘ 4 ms fall
The screen shows good response rates in our tests, but may be too slow for competitive gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.9 (minimum) to 636 (maximum) ms. » 8 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is better than the average of all tested devices (39.8 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 4950 Hz ≤ 99 % brightness setting

The display backlight flickers at 4950 Hz (Likely utilizing PWM) Flickering detected at a brightness setting of 99 % and below. There should be no flickering or PWM above this brightness setting.

The frequency of 4950 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 9418 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

Viewing angles are wide as expected from an IPS panel. Extreme angles will impact contrast and colors. Sharing the display with others nearby can be difficult because of the dim screen.

Wide IPS viewing angles
Wide IPS viewing angles
Glare is inevitable on the dim display
Glare is inevitable on the dim display
Since the glass overlay is so thick, colors do not "pop" and they appear grainier than usual
Since the glass overlay is so thick, colors do not "pop" and they appear grainier than usual

Emissions

Temperature

Surface temperatures are warmest toward the corner with the USB Type-C Power Delivery port. The difference can be up to 12 degrees C between opposite corners of the monitor.

Front
Front
Back
Back
Max. Load
 28.4 °C
83 F
28.2 °C
83 F
29.4 °C
85 F
 
 28.6 °C
83 F
32 °C
90 F
31 °C
88 F
 
 34.6 °C
94 F
37 °C
99 F
39.6 °C
103 F
 
Maximum: 39.6 °C = 103 F
Average: 32.1 °C = 90 F
33.4 °C
92 F
31.6 °C
89 F
32 °C
90 F
35.6 °C
96 F
33.8 °C
93 F
32.6 °C
91 F
38 °C
100 F
35.2 °C
95 F
33.8 °C
93 F
Maximum: 38 °C = 100 F
Average: 34 °C = 93 F
Room Temperature 22.6 °C = 73 F | Fluke 62 Mini IR Thermometer
(±) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 32.1 °C / 90 F, compared to the average of 28 °C / 82 F for the devices in the class Desktop.
(+) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 39.6 °C / 103 F, compared to the average of 33.8 °C / 93 F, ranging from 25.2 to 47 °C for the class Desktop.
(+) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 38 °C / 100 F, compared to the average of 34 °C / 93 F

Speakers

Integrated speakers on monitors are usually poor and the MageDok is no exception. Both bass and maximum volume are weak especially since the speakers aren't even facing toward the user. The speakers on your 15.6-inch laptop have a good chance of being louder than what is offered here. Nonetheless, we can appreciate that there are speakers in the first place for game console and smartphone connections.

Speakers face towards the back of the monitor instead of the front
Speakers face towards the back of the monitor instead of the front
Pink noise at maximum volume
Pink noise at maximum volume
dB(A) 0102030405060708090Deep BassMiddle BassHigh BassLower RangeMidsHigher MidsLower HighsMid HighsUpper HighsSuper Highs2046.747.42541.542.33140.240.84038.939.35037.937.96336.937.88036.33710035.734.712535.134.816034.335.220033.137.225032.141.631531.84540031.249.250030.851.563029.958.480029.159.2100028.858.2125028.957.4160028.554.6200028.553.1250028.247.231502847.7400027.946.150002846.7630027.746.2800027.742.11000027.440.21250027.336.91600027.337.8SPL40.865.5N4.118.2median 28.8median 46.2Delta2.17.135.335.132.931.831.83236.535.132.428.93328.936.328.848.32761.52752.924.860.92462.822.763.32269.521.267.82174.82075.919.472.718.97117.770.117.86917.671.817.668.117.671.417.673.717.670.417.571.617.671.617.669.617.459.717.583.630.662.51.5median 69.6median 17.84.62.4hearing rangehide median Pink NoiseMageDok Atlas Gaming MonitorApple MacBook 12 (Early 2016) 1.1 GHz
Frequency diagram (checkboxes can be checked and unchecked to compare devices)
MageDok Atlas Gaming Monitor audio analysis

(-) | not very loud speakers (65.48 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(±) | reduced bass - on average 8.1% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (12.1% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(±) | higher mids - on average 9% higher than median
(±) | linearity of mids is average (14.5% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(+) | balanced highs - only 1.9% away from median
(±) | linearity of highs is average (12.3% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(-) | overall sound is not linear (37.8% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 67% of all tested devices in this class were better, 33% similar, 0% worse
» The best had a delta of 9%, average was 22%, worst was 38%
Compared to all devices tested
» 97% of all tested devices were better, 1% similar, 2% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2016) 1.1 GHz audio analysis

(+) | speakers can play relatively loud (83.6 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(±) | reduced bass - on average 11.3% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (14.2% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(+) | balanced mids - only 2.4% away from median
(+) | mids are linear (5.5% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(+) | balanced highs - only 2% away from median
(+) | highs are linear (4.5% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(+) | overall sound is linear (9.3% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 1% of all tested devices in this class were better, 1% similar, 97% worse
» The best had a delta of 8%, average was 20%, worst was 50%
Compared to all devices tested
» 1% of all tested devices were better, 0% similar, 98% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The monitor consumes almost 11 W when at maximum brightness. Most USB Type-A ports (5 W/2 A) will not be enough to power the monitor. Third-party USB Type-C AC adapters can be used if there is no USB Type-A port available.

Steady power consumption at maximum brightness over a 60-second period
Steady power consumption at maximum brightness over a 60-second period

Pros

+ plenty of inputs and USB Type-C ports
+ over 90 percent sRGB coverage
+ relatively fast response times
+ strong chassis design

Cons

- some USB Type-A and Type-C ports may be unable to power the monitor
- PWM at nearly all brightness levels
- no AC adapter included
- low contrast ratio
- weak speakers
- dim brightness
- strong glare
- heavy

Verdict

In review: MageDok 15 portable external monitor. Test model provided by MageDok
In review: MageDok 15 portable external monitor. Test model provided by MageDok

From a design standpoint, the MageDok 15 leaves an excellent first impression. Its aluminum frame, thick front glass, and textured back all make the monitor feel more expensive than it really is. The heavy unit is rigid and more resistant to twisting than other budget portable monitors.

Everything begins to fall apart once you actually turn on the display. Content is slightly grainy due to the thick glass, grayscale is way off, brightness is too dim, the integrated speakers are very weak, and contrast is poor. The fast response times and decent color gamut aren't enough to overcome these major flaws. For basic tasks like web browsing or word processing, the MageDok does a fair job. For more intense workloads like gaming or editing, however, this is not the monitor to invest in.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > MageDok 15 Portable Monitor Review
Allen Ngo, 2019-09- 2 (Update: 2019-09- 2)
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.