When there's no usable television in sight or your eyes just aren't good enough to share the Nintendo Switch's 6.2-inch screen with a friend, a portable gaming monitor is a nice thing to have around.
I've spent the past couple of weeks fiddling with Hori's aptly-named Universal HD Gaming monitor, a 15.6-inch 720p LCD monitor that comes with its own leatherette carrying case/stand. It kind of looks like a really thick tablet when folded for storage.
Reminder: My hands are massive.
While it's as wide, tall and nearly as thick as a standard 15-inch laptop, the Universal HD Monitor is surprisingly light. Hori says the unit weighs under 2kg. It feels much lighter, thanks to its primarily plastic construction. The low weight and bulky plastic make the unit feel more like a toy than a piece of tech, but it also increases the odds of surviving drops and backpack bumps.
To use it, all one has to do is prop it up via its two-position stand, plug in the power adaptor, and attach a gaming system or other source to one of the unit's two HDMI ports.
It isn't the greatest monitor in the world. It's a little dim, the viewing angles are tight (two players have to squeeze in close), and the built-in speakers produce sound that could be coming from a particularly spacious tin can.
The thing is, it isn't supposed to be the greatest. It's supposed to be portable and it's supposed give users a means to play games or watch video content when no better option is available. It checks those boxes readily.
While I mainly played with my Switch on the Hori portable monitor, I also hooked up my PlayStation 4 for a little Hatsune Miku rhythm game action. I am very finicky about control sensitivity on Project Diva Future Tone, adjusting button timing every time I connect to a new display. I figured I might have to adjust the delay to account for monitor lag jumping from my dedicated desktop display to this portable unit. To my surprise, I didn't have to adjust a thing.
As an added bonus, the Hori Universal HD Monitor also displays games that aren't Western ports of Japanese rhythm games. While I wouldn't suggest playing Call of Duty: World War II at a serious competitive level on a portable 720p screen, it's good for campaign mode and practising against bots while you wait for the servers to come up.
At $377, the Hori Universal HD Monitor is on the pricier side of portable monitors - you can easily find a smaller television for the same price. But a smaller television isn't built for travel. This is something I can slip into my backpack and carry about town, just in case I find someone willing to recreate those fancy Nintendo Switch commercials with my near-blind self.