A portable monitor that connects to any device: Is this Dh3,200 Ricoh screen worth it?

Measuring 15.6 inches diagonally, it is only half-an-inch in thickness, making for a very sleek and slim profile, with an excellently constructed satiny finish to match

By Anirban Bagchi

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Published: Tue 28 Nov 2023, 11:21 PM

Last updated: Thu 30 Nov 2023, 8:25 AM

If the brand name Ricoh rings a bell, then you’re either a gadget geek that laps up and retains every little tidbit of information about every device known to man, or you’re revealing that you’ve gotten on in years and are not exactly a spring chicken anymore.

For most of us in the latter category, Ricoh is a brand that is synonymous with cameras, first some capable and affordable SLR cameras of the film era, followed by some very slim and capable, but not so affordable, small digital cameras of the post-film, pre-mobile digital photography era.

There may also be some hoary old people who remember Ricoh as a watchmaker — which is how the brand started in Japan before joining the Japanese electronics bandwagon of the last century – but most such people are not far from becoming what the Ricoh watches themselves have become: museum pieces.

With the world of gadgets increasingly going app- and software-based rather than hardware driven, many of the once-illustrious Japanese brands have slipped into obscurity after their strong suite of hardware excellence was made redundant. So, with such a history, how is it that this review is about a gadget from one such geriatric Japanese brand?

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The answer is that Ricoh, while dropping out of the radar of the average consumer, has carved a niche for itself in the space for more professional devices, such as copiers and printers, scanners, office projectors and interactive whiteboards — which has finally culminated in the portable screen that is the subject of our review today. A device that straddles the professional and personal spaces in the electronic gadget spectrum.

So what is the Ricoh 150W portable monitor? As the description suggests, it’s a portable monitor that can be carried around easily and paired with just about any device that has a visual output – both wired and wireless — to be used as a monitor screen.

Measuring 15.6 inches diagonally, it is only half-an-inch in thickness, making for a very sleek and slim profile, with an excellently constructed satiny finish to match. In terms of features and specifications, it packs quite a punch: There is a retractable stand to tilt and prop it up for better viewing angles; wireless connectivity is provided by Bluetooth and WiFi while two USB-C ports provide ample wired connections; there are two speakers on either side for sound output; there’s a built-in 3,740mAh lithium-ion battery; a stylus is provided as an option to manipulate the touchscreen; and the entire package weighs just around half a kilo.

But the main event is the screen. It is a 1920-by-1080 pixel, full-native HD resolution OLED touchscreen with a 100,000:1 contrast ratio and pixel refresh rate of 60. And while the resolution, at only the normal full-HD, does not sound like it’s anything special, especially in today’s world where even wristwatches and car dashboards seem to offer full HDs, the Ricoh’s screen size of 15.6 inches gives it a very healthy 141 pixels per inch of density. This ensures a vibrant and beautiful picture quality.

The colours are vivid and the contrast is impressive, delivering an enjoyable visual experience for both work and entertainment purposes. The panel’s technology ensures wide viewing angles, making it suitable for collaborative work scenarios while on that work trip — or a movie on the flight home. The display’s matte finish minimises glare, making it comfortable for extended use in various lighting conditions.

One of the standout features of the Ricoh 150W is its excellent colour accuracy, making it suitable for creative professionals who require a reliable secondary monitor for photo or video editing. The monitor covers a wide colour gamut, reproducing colours with precision and vibrancy. The brightness levels are well-calibrated, providing a clear and visible display even in well-lit environments.

The sync technology further enhances the monitor’s performance, reducing screen tearing and stuttering, and making it an appealing choice for gamers. Syncing our mobile phone with the monitor to play online games, we felt the 150W’s response time was commendable, ensuring smooth transitions in fast-paced game scenarios without sacrificing image quality. Overall, the display quality of the Ricoh 150W is a key strength, catering to a diverse range of users with varying needs.

Ricoh Monitor Stylus Pen 1
Ricoh Monitor Stylus Pen 1

That diverse user range it seeks to target definitely has a professional bias, however. The panel is a touch screen that supports 10-point multi-touch input, which proved responsive either with fingers or with the optional, Dh331 Ricoh Monitor Stylus Pen 1 included with our review unit. For presentations in business meetings, scribbling or making notes on the presentation screen, design and editing applications and a variety of other professional tasks, the touchscreen is a performer that will aid your efficiency, speed and style.

With technology becoming increasingly miniaturised, we’ve come from bulky desktops to heavy laptops to light and thin laptops and tablets to do-it-all mobile phones… and now to this: A wafer-thin, feather-weight monitor that goes everywhere with you. The device even ships with a handy sleeve — a pouch in which you can slot it and then pack it in your carrycase, backpack or suitcase – for go-anywhere portability.

If you carry your world on your mobile phone, this is the device for you. Connect it to your smartphone and then connect a wireless keyboard and you have a full office set up using just your mobile. And if you store your presentations on your smartphone or on the cloud, then all you need to do is simply carry this thin and stylish screen, connect your mobile to it and wow your business associates, not just with your slides but also by your style and the vibrant images on the Ricoh.

To get those pictures, however, you’ll need to do an initial pairing with your input device, whether a mobile phone, laptop or any other device. And that initial pairing process was quite cumbersome on our test mule, with on-screen pairing wheels spinning for an eternity, difficulty in detecting the device to be paired and more prompts coming up on screen at intervals. The more devices we tried to pair, the slower the process became. However, once paired the connection was smooth, but we would not recommend pairing too many devices at once.

Another gripe, albeit a small one, is the three-hour playtime on a full charge and the 2.5 hours that the batter takes to top up. This means that if meeting in your line of work are often marathon ones and happen in places where power sockets are not handy, then this may not be your device. It also means that if you cannot plug into that in-seat power socket on your flight then your in-flight entertainment with the device will only be limited to one movie, tops.

The final gripe is the price. While this is indeed THE premium product in the portable screens category with its fit, finish and features, their levels still cannot justify its official asking price of Dh3,200 minus the stylus. For this money, most would go in outright for a laptop. And there are portable screens at quarter the price that provide at least 75% of the features and more than half the image quality, while not being too bad in the build-quality department either.

But if style is as important to you as substance, the Ricoh 150W is the portable screen you’ll bring to your boardroom.

Hits:

- High-quality display with touchscreen

- Sleek, stylish design

- Fast response time

Misses:

- Pricey

- Battery life

Price:

Dh3,200 plus Dh331 for stylus

Rating: 3.5 stars

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