I rarely use an external monitor with my laptop for the simple fact that I don’t want to get used to all the extra screen space which isn’t available when I travel with my computer. My ideal solution to this problem would be exactly what Matt from YouTube’s DIY Perks channel has created: a laptop with an extra screen that flips up to eye level to double the size of your desktop.
Companies have been dabbling with dual-screen laptops for quite a few years now. Back in 2008, Lenovo revealed its ThinkPad W700ds which featured a second but considerably smaller screen that slid out of the side of the mobile workstation’s main display. More recently, devices like the HP Omen X 2S and the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo have integrated a small secondary display into the laptop’s keyboard area, or in the case of the upcoming Microsoft Neo, have replaced the keyboard altogether with an extra display—but that’s not what I’m after.
We’ve even seen laptops that automatically deploy side by side screens when opened, but that’s a deal-breaker for anyone who’s ever tried to use a laptop on a cramped plane, a crowded coffee shop, or even had to work while precariously balancing their computer on their lap. My ideal solution is a laptop with two screens stacked atop each other, and that’s exactly what Matt has created here—more or less. Given how thin modern flat-screen displays can be manufactured, a second flip-up screen potentially wouldn’t necessarily add a huge amount of thickness to a laptop. But given companies like Apple have billions of dollars to sink into R&D to develop new hardware, while DIY Perks does not, Matt’s creation isn’t exactly svelte, but functionally it’s quite clever.
After sourcing an LCD display and a controller board (necessary for it to interface with an existing laptop) for under $100 on eBay, aluminum panels were used to create a rigid backing for the second display, while a 3D printer churned out custom plastic bezels, a housing for the board, and a pair of hinges that allow the second screen to fold behind the main display for easy transport.
Given the laptop being upgraded lacked USB-C ports which could have been used to deliver both power and a signal to the second screen, a portable battery pack had to be used instead, which regrettably further adds to the bulk and thickness of this hacked machine. The results aren’t pretty, I can’t see myself performing similar surgery on my computer, but having a second screen that sits at eye level is a feature my horribly crooked spine would be eternally thankful for. More importantly, the added screen space doesn’t come at the cost of sacrificing the laptop’s physical keyboard: a trade-off I hope companies stop making.