- Editor's Rating
While most business travelers prefer to use a thin and light notebook with a small screen and a small footprint as their main travel PC, the reality is that small screens aren’t always ideal. If you need to give a sales presentation to clients in a small office space then you probably wish you had a second, larger screen to share with others while you work on your own laptop screen. HP’s solution is the EliteDisplay S140u: a USB-powered 14-inch LCD perfect for on-the-spot presentations or multi-screen multitasking.
As with most of the USB-powered mobile monitors on the market, the HP EliteDisplay S140u ($169) is a simple 14-inch LCD that weighs around 3 pounds and is less than one inch thick. Although a 14-inch monitor might sound small for a business presentation it makes perfect sense if you ever have to share PowerPoint slides with someone sitting across a desk. Also, a USB monitor makes the perfect companion if you’re used to working on a dual-screen setup at home or in your office and still want to have a second display while traveling.
One of the key design aspects that separate the EliteDisplay S140u from its competitors is the included magnetic protective travel cover that also doubles as a support stand. The case itself is black vinyl but has a faux leather exterior that gives the protective case a premium appearance.
The interior surface of the of the travel cover is soft microfiber-like material that protects the screen from accidental scratches while it’s inside your laptop bag. The case also folds over on itself to function as the stand for the LCD. It’s a simple yet functional design that gets the job done without any extra frills.
The back side of the display itself features a power button and a simple plus and minus button for controlling the screen brightness.
As with most USB monitors, the EliteDisplay S140u doesn’t feature much in terms of monitor inputs. Both the monitor’s power and video input are delivered via a single USB port on the right side of the monitor. This single input eliminates the need to carry an AC adapter or video cable but that added convenience comes with a minor inconvenience. The unfortunate side effect of using USB for the display input and power is that the 14-inch LCD panel with 1600 x 900 resolution technically requires either a single USB 3.0 port or two USB 2.0 ports in order to supply enough power.
In short, if you are connecting the EliteDisplay S140u to a USB 2.0 port, you’ll need to connect both ends of the USB “Y” cable to two USB 2.0 ports on your laptop. If you’re using a USB 3.0 port you only need to connect the cable to one USB port on your computer.
The box for the HP EliteDisplay S140u includes the monitor, magnetic cover, a USB “Y” cable, and a small package including a CD-ROM of the USB graphics drivers, the user manual printed in multiple languages, and a one-page sheet entitled, “Compatibility Issues with USB Graphics Drivers.”
That last part is the only thing you might have to worry about.
The dirty little secret of USB monitors is that there are very few companies developing graphics drivers to support displays connected via a USB port. In fact, the overwhelming majority of USB monitors on the market use DisplayLink graphics drivers. The problem is that DisplayLink graphics drivers don’t always “play nice” with every PC. The compatibility issues can be even worse if there are multiple versions of DisplayLink drivers installed on your PC (which might be the case if you happen to use a USB docking station.
For example, we connected the EliteDisplay S140u to three different PCs (Asus Transformber Book T100, Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro, and HP EliteBook 8540p) and experienced no problems whatsoever. However, when we connected the S140u to an Dell laptop which was also using a Dell USB docking station, and installed the DisplayLink Drivers from HP the driver crashed in such a way that the Dell laptop would no longer reboot into Windows and we had to use the restore partition on the hard drive to get the notebook to work again.
The bottom line is that prior to using the EliteDisplay S140u we recommend that you uninstall any DisplayLink drivers that are already installed on your PC and then download and install the latest drivers from the HP support page for the EliteDisplay S140u. Although HP doesn’t officially support Macs, Mac users “may” be able to get this USB monitor to work using the latest Mac OS 10.9 Mavericks drivers from the DisplayLink website.
HP EliteDisplay S140u Specifications:
- Type: 14.0-inch LCD Mobile Monitor (anti-glare / matte screen)
- Viewable Image Area: 14” Diagonal
- Max. Native Resolution: 1600 x 900
- Brightness: Up to 200 nits
- Viewing Angles: 90-degree horizontal, 50-degree vertical
- Response Rate: 8ms
- Input Signal: USB 3.0 (cable included)
- Standard Power Supply: USB cable (included)
- Power Consumption: 7 W (maximum), 4 W (typical), 0.5 W (standby)
- Dimensions & Weight: 13.6 x 8.55 x 0.53 inches; 3.28 lbs (with cover)
- Color: Black
- One-year limited warranty
- MSRP: $169.00
Despite the fact that the Elite Display S140u features a higher resolution than most USB mobile monitors (1600 x 900 pixels versus 1366 x 768), HP didn’t use the best possible display panel. The 14-inch diagonal widescreen display is a standard TN panel with a good range of colors and decent brightness but it suffers from low contrast and pretty narrow vertical viewing angles. What that means is the colors look fine if your eyes are perfectly parallel to the screen surface on the S140u, but if you tilt the screen back or stand up and look down at the screen the colors start to wash out or distort.
While we are happy that HP priced this USB monitor at less than $200 and gave it a resolution of 1600 x 900, most consumers are getting used to the ultra-wide viewing angles from IPS displays used on tablets and smartphones. Fewer and fewer people are willing to put up with a screen that only looks good if you’re right in front of it with the screen surface parallel to your eyes. The limited viewing angles might not bother everyone, but it’s something that people will notice, particularly given the fact that HP designed this screen for mobile professionals.
After spending a few weeks field testing the HP EliteDisplay S140u mobile monitor I’d have to conclude that this is one of the better USB monitors currently available for travelers. Unfortunately, the EliteDisplay S140u shares many of the same problems as other USB monitors.
The biggest problem is the use of DisplayLink drivers. While DisplayLink is largely the only game in town for connecting external displays over USB, the reality is that DisplayLink USB graphics drivers are notorious for having a variety of compatibility issues with various PCs … meaning sometimes the USB monitor works flawlessly and other times the driver might crash and require you to restart your PC. Again, this is not a problem that is unique to HP or the EliteDisplay S140u because those compatibility issues are tied to DisplayLink, but it’s worth mentioning.
Still, if you’ve ever needed to give a presentation while sitting across the desk from someone in a small office then you immediately recognize the benefit of an external monitor like this. Also, if you’re someone who uses multiple displays at your desk it’s nice to have a portable multi-monitor solution for travel.
In a perfect world, I would have liked to see a better driver solution, full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution and an IPS panel that offers better viewing angles, but those things come at an increase in cost and I suspect HP wants to keep the MSRP as low as possible to make this monitor attractive to as many people as possible.
- Convenient second monitor for mobile professionals
- Low price
- Decent brightness and color via USB
- Requires two USB ports if you’re using USB 2.0
- Uses DisplayLink drivers (sometimes buggy depending on your PC)
- Not officially MAC compatible