Hope to Work Out of Town....But Need a Serious Monitor
February 11, 2016 8:20 AM   Subscribe

New York's about to get super cold, i'm crashed on a project, and I see lots of tempting $150 r/t last minute fares to Dallas. So I'm thinking of going refugee. Problem is, my current work requires a decent sized monitor, and my Macbook Air has a tiny 13" screen.

Options I've considered:

1. Buy an iPad Pro and use Duet Display to hook it up as a second monitor. Resell later.
Problem: iPad Pro is smaller than my MBA's display. Much prefer one big rather than two small.

2. Rent a monitor in Dallas
Problem: there are indeed rental companies down there, but it's crazy expensive.

3. Buy a monitor in Dallas
List on Craigslist NOW, then buy and use down there and hopefully sell before I leave town.
Problems: Risky (though, hmmm, I could also use an eBay listing service).

4. Bring my 24" LED monitor with me
Risky. I do have the original box, but the airlines might kill it.

5. Find an AirBNB host who can help
I could query a couple dozen local AirBNB hosts about borrowing their monitor.
Problem: it might not work, and it's easier to get work done in hotels.

Note: I want to work where I stay, not in a rented office workstation, etc.

What else?
posted by Quisp Lover to Grab Bag (31 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
BTW, I'm figuring that if I lower my thermostat to 50 for the week, the oil savings will underwrite my airfare!
posted by Quisp Lover at 8:21 AM on February 11, 2016


How 'bout bringing a pico projector?
posted by ourobouros at 8:27 AM on February 11, 2016


Hmm, just spotted this Acer 21.5" display, well-rated and just $99 on Amazon.

I could have Amazon Prime ship it to hotel tomorrow in Dallas, and list it on eBay right now for $65 plus shipping (explaining it will ship next week). Problem solved for $35?

No, I'm not going to make a phony return to Amazon (or Apple).
posted by Quisp Lover at 8:28 AM on February 11, 2016


ourobouros, never saw one or used one. Is it suitable for fine-tuned word-processing and editing work?
posted by Quisp Lover at 8:29 AM on February 11, 2016


Just do a one-week listing or however many days works for your departure on Ebay or Craigslist of the $99 monitor. Problem solved?
posted by DarlingBri at 8:31 AM on February 11, 2016


From a comment below a review for the highest-rated Pico Projector:

Microprojectors including aaxa's M1 have disappointingly low resolutions at 800x600 and below. If you use these microprojectors for word processing and reading articles while surfing, even at 800x600 (although seems not a big difference from 1024x768), they will make the words very hard and hazy to see, just as described in the above article. However, M1's brightness is impressive and I can't find irregularities in brightness just by direct looking. So don't buy it if you don't need portability.

posted by Quisp Lover at 8:34 AM on February 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


Have you thought about contacting the hotel and seeing if they'd put a monitor in your hotel room or if they'd give you the specs on the tv (assuming it'd work with your laptop)? You might not need to buy anything.
posted by Apoch at 8:45 AM on February 11, 2016 [5 favorites]


I could have Amazon Prime ship it to hotel tomorrow in Dallas, and list it on eBay right now for $65 plus shipping (explaining it will ship next week). Problem solved for $35?

Probably approaching $50 when you add in eBay and Paypal fees, but could work. If you do list it now, make sure you also set the handling time in the listing to coincide with the end of your trip. Even if you state in the description that it won't ship for a week, if you inadvertently enter in a short handling time, an unscrupulous (or just inattentive) buyer can file a claim if it doesn't arrive by eBay's estimates. (eBay's presale policy explains in further detail what you need to do to list an item you don't yet have in hand)

Personally I would do a draft of the listing now and finalize it after the monitor arrives. You will have to list it as used, so you'll want to include a picture of the actual monitor, not just a stock photo.
posted by mama casserole at 8:49 AM on February 11, 2016


Why not just hook up to your hotel TV and use that as a screen? I've done it before and it works great.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 8:49 AM on February 11, 2016 [3 favorites]


RE: hooking to the TV: This is detailed word processing and editing work. I haven't hooked up to a TV in a couple decades; are HDTVs (which I assume a good hotel would have) up to the task of supporting 6 hour days of this sort of work?

If so, what would I need, cable-wise, to hook to a 2013 Macbook Air?
posted by Quisp Lover at 8:53 AM on February 11, 2016


Many coworking spaces offer daily rates and have monitors you can borrow. Maybe see what that scene looks like in Dallas?

(On edit: missed your note. Whoops!)
posted by thejoshu at 8:57 AM on February 11, 2016


I think hotel TV is the way to go, but the hotel may also have a business center. I travel with a Macbook Pro and this adapter which converts the Mac's mini displayport to displayport (rare), HDMI and DVI (both common for TVs and/or computer monitors), plus those cables for DVI and HDMI.

On review: yes, a modern HDTV is up to the job. You'll need a cable that connects from mini displayport (your thunderbolt ports support this, and it's the same connector form-factor) to HDMI, or else an HDMI cable and the adapter. [Mini]Displayport adapts easily to HDMI for video only-- sound will stay on the mac.
posted by Sunburnt at 8:57 AM on February 11, 2016 [5 favorites]


...or you could buy the monitor, donate it to a non-profit, and take a tax deduction (25-30% depending on your income). Or just do it because it's awesome :)

Search near your hotel to find a non-profit you'd like to support, call them, and ask if someone would come pick it up from your hotel. You could potentially even leave the monitor with hotel staff.

Heck, if you're staying at a "hotel" hotel, the concierge could help you. Way less trouble than selling the thing.
posted by amtho at 8:59 AM on February 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


Sunburnt - If I bring my external superdrive, I could watch DVDs on hotel TV, so would probably want sound. So opt for mini displayport to HDMI?
posted by Quisp Lover at 9:00 AM on February 11, 2016


I use a 26 inch TV that's at least 7 years old as a second monitor when I'm working from home and it's absolutely fine. Make sure to take VGA and HDMI cables with you.
posted by ellieBOA at 9:01 AM on February 11, 2016


...plus, the cost of a donated monitor is not that much compared with hotel costs (depending on how you do it). For that, I might even contact a school and offer the monitor to a digital arts teacher to give to a promising kid.
posted by amtho at 9:01 AM on February 11, 2016


If you buy a monitor with the hope of re-selling it, I'd just plan to bring it back to NY with you to sell at your leisure, rather than trying to arrange and consummate a CL or Ebay deal while travelling. The airline may fuck it up, but at that point it wouldn't be an inconvenience and you would get reimbursed (honestly, them losing it might be the best outcome for you, at that point).
posted by Rock Steady at 9:07 AM on February 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


Is there a reason you can't put your monitor into a carry on bag? It's unusual but I don't think prohibited, and that way you can keep an eye on the bag and make sure it doesn't get crushed. I would arrive early to the airport in case the TSA wants to poke at it.
posted by nakedmolerats at 9:08 AM on February 11, 2016


Mini Displayport will never send sound to HDMI, whether using an adapter or a straight-through cable.

If your Mac has HDMI out (sorry, I'm not familiar enough with the Air), that'll be your best bet, HDMI to HDMI. That'll carry the sound through.
posted by Sunburnt at 9:12 AM on February 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ah, I see this is probably just slightly bigger than most carry on size limits, but I have also seen plenty of people bring comically oversized stuff on. I would take my chances. Actually, what I might do is wrap the whole thing in bubble wrap and carry it on without the additional space of a bag to contain it.

You might want to do the bubble wrap after security though, since they will probably want to look at it.

Or, buy the slightly smaller LCD from Amazon that probably will fit into carry on.
posted by nakedmolerats at 9:21 AM on February 11, 2016


Suburnt:

Here's the info:

Thunderbolt digital video output

Native Mini DisplayPort output
DVI output using Mini DisplayPort to DVI Adapter (sold separately)
VGA output using Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter (sold separately)
Dual-link DVI output using Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapter (sold separately)
HDMI audio and video output using third-party Mini DisplayPort to HDMI Adapter (sold separately)


So if I buy your adapter (more likely this slightly different one, just 'cuz I can get it same day from amazon), what additional cables should I buy?
posted by Quisp Lover at 9:27 AM on February 11, 2016


Also, according to Apple:


About Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapters :
These Apple computers supply multichannel audio (up to 8 channels) and video signals over Mini DisplayPort:

MacBook Pro (Retina, Mid 2012 and later)
Mac mini (Mid 2010 and later)
Mac Pro (Mid 2010 and Mid 2012)
Mac Pro (Late 2013)
MacBook (Mid 2010 and later)
MacBook Pro (Mid 2010 and later)
MacBook Air (Late 2010 and later)
iMac (Late 2009 and later)

posted by Quisp Lover at 9:34 AM on February 11, 2016


I admit I haven't tried it in this context, but I think the problem with using the TV as a monitor might be ergonomic positioning. I have used a TV as a monitor in a pinch a couple of times (just not in a hotel room). Even in an ideal situation, due to the size and comparatively low resolution, I find that I need to sit kind of far away from the screen which I find a little bit awkward. But more importantly, I think most hotel TVs are set up in a way that you're not likely to be able to move it off of the furniture it's on. Do you really want to sit on the bed, or in a chair looking up at a TV on a dresser, for 6 hours a day? It sounds painful to me, but YMMV...
posted by primethyme at 9:35 AM on February 11, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yeah, was thinking about that. I could do major landscaping, though.....sliding the desk and chair over. Problem is if I need to slide the bed out of the way to accomplish this, there could be dust release and disgustingness revealed....
posted by Quisp Lover at 9:37 AM on February 11, 2016


Problem is if I need to slide the bed out of the way to accomplish this

I have been in a LOT of hotel rooms where the bed isn't movable -- it's affixed to the floor. I agree with the ergonomic concerns that others have brought up and would probably go for the cheap monitor delivered to your hotel.
posted by kate blank at 10:22 AM on February 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


The hotel has to have an IT Dept, right? Have you called the hotel to see if they could place one of their extra monitors in the room for the duration of your stay? They must have extras.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 10:32 AM on February 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


They cost like $100. Bring yours, and if it breaks, replace it.
posted by metasarah at 10:33 AM on February 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


I have had a concierge at a hotel do this for me - no cost at the time (they had a spare in their office) other than a tip to the concierge.

I was not given the impression this was a rare request - business travelers are often in need of in-room tech, and they asked if I needed mice/keyboards/etc. because they had extras.
posted by scrittore at 10:33 AM on February 11, 2016 [5 favorites]


I was just coming to basically say what scrittore said: This is a super common request at businessey hotels these days. Pick an "executive" hotel and call ahead to verify, but you should have no problem borrowing a monitor. Using the tv isn't an ideal solution, unless you're primarily watching movies, due to the reasons already stated: low resolution and immobility.
posted by maniactown at 10:53 AM on February 11, 2016


The Dallas area Microcenter has this refurb display for $60. Bring cables if you have them to spare yourself the cable markup price. I have one I got at their MN location and it's fine. Not nearly as pretty as the Apple display I have at the office, but it works great for the price. I use a dvi cable with mine.
posted by advicepig at 11:05 AM on February 11, 2016


> So if I buy your adapter (more likely this slightly different one, just 'cuz I can get it same day from amazon), what additional cables should I buy?

That adapter looks just fine.

I would add an HDMI cable-- at least 6ft (2m), but consider 10'/3m will give you a little more flexibility for the ergonomic situation. If you run across a DVI monitor, there will be a computer attached to it with a DVI cable. Order from Amazon as that will be much cheaper-- you can get HDMI cables all over the place, but you can't get cheap cables all over the place, and it's annoying and unnecessary to pay a lot for a digital cable.
posted by Sunburnt at 2:33 PM on February 11, 2016


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