espresso 17 Pro 4K portable monitor – glorious colour (computer review)

Apart from anything else, the espresso 17 Pro 4K portable monitor is exquisitely packed, setting the expectation that something special is inside. It does not disappoint.

What is a portable monitor?

It is essentially an LCD (or occasionally OLED) panel ranging in size from 8” to the espresso 17 Pro 4K. They are usually 1920 x 1080p or, in this case, 4K 3840 x 2160. Colour depth can vary from 8bit/16.7m colours to this superb beauty at 8-bit+2 FRC/1.07 billion – that is right, a billion colours. Power can be supplied via USB-C (in certain circumstances) or a 20W+ USB-C wall charger (or power bank).

The colour gamut is important. Most portables are fine with up to 100% sRGB (16.7 million web colours), but you want closer to 100% DCI-P3 of 1.07 billion colours for prosumer use. Read 8-bit versus 10-bit screen colours. What is the big deal?

Let’s explain 8-bit+2 FRC versus 10-bit

  • 8-bit/16.7 million colours comprise 256 shades each of RGB (Red, Green, Blue pixels).
  • 10-bit/1.07 billion are made up of 1024 shades each of RGB.

There are two ways of producing 1.07 billion colours. The first is a 10-bit panel, and these are very expensive. The second is 8-bit + 2 FRC (frame rate control) that flashes two alternating colours so quickly that you perceive a billion-colour experience (see video below). Can you tell? Likely not, but our testing gear, video editors, and videographers can. The fact is that you must spend several thousand dollars to get a true 10-bit panel in a ‘reference’ monitor.

As this is not an HDR monitor and not for Dolby Vision content, an 8-bit +2 FRC display is fine.

Australian deep-dive review: espresso 17 Pro 4K portable monitor

Websiteespresso home page
Product page
FAQ page
Price 12/2/24RRP $1628 with a stand but on special at $1250
Studio bundle with stand, battery, cover, pen and Creator screen overlay $2323 but on special for $1620
Fromespresso shop with free freight in Australia
Warranty12 months ACL
SupportInitially via web form – based in Australia and other sales locations
AboutWill Scuderi, Scott McKeon, Gary Caldarola, and Fabian Maritato founded the brand in 2019 in Sydney. They needed a portable display to complete Uni assignments, and nothing was suitable. They are actively involved in the brand’s growth and day-to-day operations.
More CyberShack computer reviews and news

We use Fail (below expectations), Passable (meets low expectations), Pass (meets expectations), Pass+ (near Exceed but not class-leading) and Exceed (surpasses expectations or is the class leader) against many of the items below. You can click on most images for an enlargement.

First Impression – excellent packaging – Exceed

Not to be trite, but this beauty is more than skin deep. The packaging excites us about what lies beneath, which does not disappoint.

It is a portable 17.3” USB-C, 4K LED/LCD monitor with excellent build quality. It has flat edges around its aircraft-grade aluminium 9mm girth, two USB-C ports on the right side, and two down-firing speaker grills on the left and right.

The screen has a reasonably reflective screen coating with a Mohs hardness scale of 7, which is a little harder than a steel nail, knife blade or keys.

The overall size is 397 x 245 x 9mm x 1.1kg without the magnetic stand. You need the stand as there are no VESA mounting holes on the back for wall mounting or for use with third-party monitor stands. However, espresso has a magnetic VESA mount that fits the bill.

It certainly deserves the CES award.

Power – Pass+

Power can come from:

  • An 18W (maximum 100W) USB-C PD or PPS 3.0 wall charger (not supplied) or power bank (not supplied). You need this when connecting with a USB-C to HDMI 2.0 or mini-DP 1.4 or for hand-held games consoles and smartphones with USB-C 3.1/2 Gen 1/2 that support screen mirroring over cable (like Samsung DeX or Motorola ReadyFor). On that point, the screen can provide an upstream charge to the smartphone (the screen needs up to 18W, and the remainder of the wall charger wattage can pass through).
  • PC or Mac USB-C 3.1/3.2 Gen 1/2 or Thunderbolt 3/4 port may support at least 5V/2A/8W to 9V/2A/18W (25-100% brightness – see table below). Most modern PCs with USB-C can output at least 5V/3A/15W and get up to 75% brightness.
  • External espressoCharge 32,000mAh/118.4Wh battery pack for about 10 hours of use at full brightness (not tested). This is too big for some TSA-regulated airlines, which limit batteries to 100Wh. Qantas may accept up to 160Wh with prior approval. If that is a step too far, the Anker Prime 27650mAh power bank meets TSA regulations.
BrightnessPower
25%8W
50%10W
75%12W
100%18W

Stand Pro

The 850g Stand Pro works at various angles and heights, including portrait and landscape modes. It is optimised for drawing and sketching and can be securely set to an 18° angle with a purple-accented built-in kickstand.

espressoCase – must have for screen protection when travelling

It fits most 16” laptop sleeves or backpacks. But while it is quite rigid, its screen needs extra travel protection. At $89, the espressorCase magnetically attaches and can act as a glass cover or rear stand.

espressoMount – Pass

This $79 magnetic mounting pad accommodates 75 x 75 and 100 x 100mm VESA mounts for use on monitor arms.

espressoFlow

It requires you to establish an account, which means some privacy issues to be aware of. As an Aussie company, it is subject to the laws of NSW and caters to EU GDPR and California privacy. The terms are at the end of the review, but they are benign and safe to sign.

It runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux (Ubuntu 20.04 x11). We only test on Windows, so we cannot advise if it is different for Mac.

  • Perhaps the most unique thing about this is that it adds a touch screen to a Mac.
  • Auto rotate (USB-C and MiniDP only)
  • Workspace launcher 50 apps
  • The scaling option is missing in the Windows version.
  • Windows shortcuts

Jot for Mac (Windows coming)

Jot is a utility for capturing, cutting, saving, and dropping on-screen content between any app, window, or document.

It acts like a digital sketch pad that sits over the top of a desktop environment, allowing you to sketch, take notes, and transfer content. Jot is free to all espresso 17 Pro 4K owners or those that purchase the espressoPen.

espressoPen (Microsoft MPP 2)

It is a one-button, 14g pen with 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, replaceable tips, and USB-C 1-hour charging. It magnetically attaches to the top of the Espresso 17 Pro 4K.

We did not extensively test it, but I am assured that it can do anything a Microsoft Surface can do with an MPP 2 pen.

espressoCreator  matte screen protector

It is a 2-pack of Bellemond 135g, 3H hardness, self-adhesive, matt paper-esque experience.

That sounds good, but it reduces brightness and colour saturation a little (not tested). It is rated 3H on the Pencil Hardness Scale (below), which means it offers moderate scratch resistance but little impact protection.

Speakers – barely

They only work when connected to external power. It has stereo down-firing speakers below the screen. The maximum volume is 65dB, which is just acceptable for personal use. As you would expect, these micro-speakers are more for use with voice than music. It has no low/mid/high bass, late-mid, and low-mid treble for a clear voice. It is a little harsh for music genres.

On-screen menu

A two-finger swipe up from the bottom bezel reveals brightness, contrast and volume; Max brightness depends on Watts.

espresso 17 Pro 4K Fast Facts

  • 17.3”, 3840 x 2160, 275ppi, IPS LED/LCD.
  • 8-bit +2 FRC panel/1.07 billion colours
  • 60Hz native refresh rate (note that this depends on the host PC/Mac or dock)
  • SDR display
  • DC Dimming – no pulse width modulation flicker
  • 100% DCI-P3 of 1.07 billion colours (assume 100% sRGB and Adobe RGB)
  • Brightness: Maximum 450 nits (tested 435) and about 250-300 typical (depends on wattage)
  • Contrast: 1000:1 (tested).
  • Delta E colour accuracy (<4 is good): Tested 2.2.
  • Grey-to-Grey response: Tested <25ms
  • Viewing angle: Up to +/-80°, but monitors are meant to be viewed straight on.

Tests on different devices

  • Windows, via USB-C 3.1/2/4.0 or TB3 or 4. A fully functional external touch screen with audio.
  • Mac: As above (not tested)
  • Android with USB-C 3.1/2 Gen 1/2 supports screen mirroring and audio with external power on compatible devices.
  • iPad: (not tested) via USB-C should give full functionality with external power.
  • Samsung DeX (Desktop Extensions) via USB-C to USB-C supports the DeX screen, audio, and keyboard/touchpad wth external power.
  • Samsung DeX over USB-C to HDMI gives the DeX screen and audio but no keyboard/touchpad support with external power.

Image quality tests – Pass+ to Exceed

We ran dozens of tests, and the results met or exceeded our expectations. The shots are grouped and enlarge once clicked (back browser arrow returns to the review). All tests are on external power and maximum brightness.

Colour

Contrast and white/black

While 1000:1 contrast is fine for an IPS monitor, you won’t get inky black and true white.

Text is crisp and readable to 6-point

Portrait or landscape on PC, Mac and DeX.

Who is the espresso 17 Pro 4K portable monitor for?

It is primarily a 17.3” 4K external monitor, which is often larger than the laptop screen you attach it to. I suspect it will become your primary screen with touch and the stand.

100% DCI-P3 means prosumer photographers and videographers can use it. However, if you want a full 10-bit colour, you will have to buy a vastly more expensive reference monitor. Delta E is low enough that what you see on screen is what you should get as the final product. We did not measure Adobe RGB or sRGB as we can assume these gamuts are also fully covered.

espresso says it is making huge inroads into

  • Travel – Grey nomads who may buy a laptop or mini-PC (NUC) and want good quality in their motorhome or caravan. The only thing missing is decent speakers!
  • Work from home that needs more screen real estate in smaller spaces (although traditional monitors are lower-cost).
  • Creators happy with MPP 2.0 pens
  • Mac users that covet touch!
  • Signage
  • Medical where 4K resolution is best to identify patient issues
  • Libraries and computer share offices
  • Retail POS

CyberShack’s view – espresso 17 Pro 4K portable monitor is terrific for so many uses

First, hats off to an Aussie startup well on its way to global success. Its focus on quality over price is paying dividends.

I have started to see 17.3″ and even 18.4″ 4K monitors from generic Asian suppliers for around A$1000, but you risk no local support, and the products are often not the specifications they purport to be.

Local support, great company and great product. It gets our recommendation.

espresso 17 Pro 4K monitor rating

  • Features: 85 – this is a monitor. There are no fancy on-screen menus/setups, battery, on/off switch, VESA mounts, or stand (unless you buy these).
  • Value: 85 – It is a tad pricey, but remember Warren Buffet’s famous saying, ‘Price is what you pay, value is what you get’.
  • Performance: 95 – As a prosumer monitor, it meets or exceeds all tests. Only those who need 10-bit colour may think twice and then still buy!
  • Ease of Use: 90 – Plug and Play. esspressoFlow is required for touch. Full brightness or smartphone use requires an external 18W+ power source. While ACL covers manufacturers’ defects outside its 12-month warranty, we would have liked to see at least a 3-year and a dead pixel warranty.
  • Design: 90 – Superb design and finish. I have a few suggestions.
    • Put more effort into the speakers – they are its weakest link.
    • A longer warranty for a premium product would help the brand build loyalty.

espresso 17 Pro 4K portable monitor

RRP $1628 but on special at $1250 with the stand
8.7

Features

8.5/10

Value

8.5/10

Performance

8.5/10

Ease of Use

9.0/10

Design

9.0/10

Pros

  • Colour and accuracy out of the box
  • Touchscreen Windows and Mac
  • Must-have stand and should-have cover
  • Pricey, but you pay for performance and quality
  • Brilliant Aussie company deserves to succeed

Cons

  • Not quite as portable as expected
  • 18W chews the juice
  • Speakers are barely adequate
  • Geeks like to know it is 8-bit + 2 FRC panel