Lenovo’s $249 ThinkVision M14 joins a small but growing group of portable, small-screen monitors designed to be paired with laptops for folks on the go, acting as a second screen. Thanks to its easy portability and high-quality panel, the M14 is a good choice for businesspeople or consumers who have a laptop with a USB Type-C port that supports DisplayPort video out. It doesn’t have the range of controls of the recently reviewed HP EliteDisplay S14, but it is bright, features high color fidelity, can be tilted to a wide range of angles, and is very light and easy to transport. It earns a PCMag Editors’ Choice, our first for a portable monitor.
Featherlight and Compact
As a complement to the classic black Lenovo ThinkPad—at least the newer models that pack USB-C ports—the ThinkVision M14 has a matte black body and an antiglare screen free of the reflections visible on the screen of the Dell XPS 13 that I paired it with. The 14-inch in-plane switching (IPS) panel has a native 1080p (1,920-by-1,080-pixel) native resolution, for a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio. Its 157 pixel-per-inch (ppi) pixel density promises a sharp image given the resolution and screen size, and that was borne out in my testing (and to my eyes).
The screen connects to the base with a pair of Lenovo Yoga-style hinges, which makes for smooth movement and a range of adjustment from minus-5 to 90 degrees. (The HP EliteDisplay S14, whose screen rests against a foldable, triangular base, is limited to a single fixed position, with the screen tilted back about 15 degrees from the vertical.) The M14 also has an adjustable “foot” at the front of the base—it acts as a riser that lets you set the screen at the same height as your laptop’s screen.
I measured the M14’s dimensions at 8.1 by 12.7 by 3.6 inches (HWD) with the screen placed at right angles to its base—the screen portion itself is just 0.16 inch thick. It weighs just 1.3 pounds, nearly a pound less than the HP EliteDisplay S14’s 2.2 pounds. An included gray-and-red cloth protective sleeve further enhances its portability.
USB-C Connectivity, Minimal Controls
In addition to supporting the screen, the M14’s base houses the display’s ports and buttons. On the right side are the power button and a USB-C port, flanking the notch for a Kensington cable lock. On the left side is a second USB Type-C port, plus arrow buttons to control the panel’s brightness, and a button to toggle the low-blue-light setting on and off.
Those two buttons are the extent of the M14’s onscreen display (OSD) controls. The HP EliteDisplay S14 has a wider selection of OSD controls, with four buttons letting you change settings such as brightness, contrast, and color mode. (Selections for the latter include Low Blue Light, Night, Reading, HP Enhance+, Multimedia, and Photo.) That said, I didn’t find myself fretting over the limited controls when testing the M14.
The M14 comes with a meter-long USB Type-C cable. You can connect to a laptop using either the right or left USB-C port on the panel, depending on which side of the laptop you want the display to be placed. The USB-C ports support DisplayPort over USB-C, as well as USB PD (power delivery).
This allows for two modes of use. You can display video and other content over the USB connection from a laptop with a compatible USB-C port, and simultaneously power the M14 from the laptop through the same USB-C connection. Alternately, you can plug an optional 65-watt AC power adapter into one of the M14’s USB-C ports to power the monitor; this will let you also charge the laptop when it is connected to the M14’s other USB-C port.
Bright, With Good Color
I did our color and brightness testing for the M14 using a Klein Instruments colorimeter and Portrait Displays CalMAN 5 software. Lenovo rates the display’s luminance (that is, the brightness per unit area) at 300 candelas per meter squared (nits), and it came up just short of that (280 nits) in my testing. This is much brighter than the HP EliteDisplay S14, which registered just 171 nits, and the Hori Portable HD Gaming Monitor Pro, which tallied 178 nits.
Lenovo states that the M14 covers 72 percent of the NTSC color space. The NTSC space was designed for analog TV and has largely been superseded by digital color spaces, but it is still often used as a comparison, and 72 percent NTSC is approximately 100 percent of the sRGB space. In testing, the M14 filled 97 percent of the gamut. In the chromaticity chart below, the area within the triangle represents the sRGB color space, and my data points (the circles) are for the most part evenly placed around it, with the purple and red points indicating a slight expansion of the gamut in those areas.
In contrast, the HP EliteDisplay S14 fell well short of covering sRGB, with many points well within the triangle. The same was the case with the Hori Portable HD Gaming Monitor Pro.
The big takeaway in this testing? Even though it’s meant as a second display, Lenovo did not skimp in the M14’s brightness and color fidelity in designing it.
I spent a weekend using the M14 instead of the 27-inch external monitor I normally use with my Dell XPS 13. Though I missed my monitor’s larger screen size, my overall experience was very good, whether I was editing photos, watching videos, reading email, or surfing the web. I ran into no abnormalities, and I was pleased with the screen’s robust color and bright image, with reflections much reduced from what I was seeing on my laptop screen.
Lenovo provides a three-year warranty for the M14, which is typical of monitor warranties.
One for the Road
The compact, lightweight Lenovo ThinkVision M14 is a winning choice as a mobile monitor for business or personal use. It is well equipped to provide you with a second screen while traveling, and bright and glare-free enough for passable viewing in a variety of challenging lighting environments. This USB-C-only display can be powered from your laptop over the same cable from which it’s receiving data or video; additionally, its “power pass-through” design lets you run the M14 and charge your laptop with a single AC adapter.
The ThinkVision M14 doesn’t have the range of controllable settings found in the HP EliteDisplay S14, but it’s considerably brighter, has a wider color gamut, and is nearly a pound lighter. Given that combination of pluses, the M14 is our new top pick among mobile productivity monitors.