Capsule Review: GeChic's On-Lap 1302 Laptop Monitorby Dustin Sklavos on April 15, 2012 12:00 AM EST
Conclusion: Still Needs a Version 2.0
Now, as before, I can't argue against the GeChic On-Lap 1302 as a useful product. The 1301 was something that caught a lot of your eyes before, and rightfully so. There are other products on the market that add portable screens to your notebook (we actually have Toshiba's Mobile Monitor due in soon), but none that do it the way GeChic's solution does. Everything else uses DisplayLink; what GeChic has is something no one else does: a USB 2.0-powered monitor that still runs off of the GPU.
In my previous review I suggested that the On-Lap 1301 needed a version 2.0. Despite the substantially redesigned chassis, the 1302 doesn't feel like a full and proper revision; it feels like an incremental one. The reduced screen weight is appreciated, the revised connector design is much improved, and the green rubber block mounts are worlds better than what came before. And certainly I won't fault the screen quality; given what the On-Lap is, it's a miracle the screen works at all, and for its intended purposes it definitely gets the job done. I still think they need to switch to a matte finish, though.
Where things start to go awry, really, are with the mounting systems involved with the On-Lap 1302. Whether the adhesive-affixed metal bracket is an improvement over the suction cups is going to be a matter of preference to you (I personally don't like essentially taping something to my notebook lid), but neither solution is really ideal and unfortunately I'm just not sure what would be.
What I can definitely suggest is eschewing the rubber stand bricks entirely. GeChic sells them separately as being useful for tablets, phones, and what have you, but really they need to just be disposed of entirely. The 1302 needs either a built-in stand, or a removeable kickstand that can be attached to and rotated from the back of the screen to allow it to function in both portrait and landscape modes. The bricks continue to be incredibly clunky, and even though they at least work this time (to an extent), they're far from ideal and I can't imagine GeChic is making enough on selling them separately for other uses to make up for how much they take away from the On-Lap.
With all that said, though, GeChic continues to be in the unique position of offering something no one else has. The $199 price tag may feel steep to some users, but nothing else does what the On-Lap 1302 does. It feels like a net gain over the 1301, but if you already bought one of those you gain very little by switching over. Ultimately, though, I just don't feel quite as bullish about the 1302 as I did about the 1301. This revision feels too rushed and too incremental; the product needs to bake a little bit longer and see a more comprehensive redesign. We still have a good start, but we had that months ago.