back to top

Expresso 17 Pro: In-Depth Overview

While this display is pleasant, it’s challenging to discern a purpose that a laptop featuring a 4K 17-inch screen wouldn’t serve better. The resolution exceeds the appropriate level for this size, significantly draining the power of the connected laptop. It’s impressive but lacks practicality for the majority of users.

Pros

  • 4K resolution
  • Operates via USB-C or Thunderbolt
  • Supports touch and pen input
  • Boasts an excellent P3 color gamut

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Touch functionality incompatible with iPad or iPhone
  • Requires an external power source for prolonged use.

Expresso 17 Pro: Cost And Availability

  • What is the price? £699/$799/€1049
  • When will it be released? It’s currently available
  • Where can you purchase it? Directly from Expresso.7

Available directly from Expresso, the Expresso 17 Pro monitor is priced at £699/$799 or €1049, depending on your location. It includes the Stand Pro accessory, although you also have the option to acquire it with the expressoPen, expressoCover, and Creator screen covers as part of the Expresso Studio Bundle for $949/£899/€1199.

As of the time of writing, the product is on sale in the USA, Europe, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand, with Expresso providing free shipping to these destinations.

Given the scarcity of portable displays at this level of quality or specification, evaluating the value of the Expresso 17 Pro can be challenging. Nevertheless, several low-cost Chinese portable 4K screens are considerably more affordable, even if they don’t provide the exact features available with this one.

Expresso 17 Pro: Quick Overview

The market for portable monitors is limited as most individuals requiring a computer for travel opt for a laptop featuring an integrated screen. Those seeking a secondary display, perhaps for client presentations, often turn to projectors, making it easy to view for multiple individuals.

Considering the Expresso 17 Pro is simply a 17-inch display, it doesn’t fit into either of these usage scenarios. Nonetheless, it does offer 4K resolution and a broad color gamut, along with touch controls and an optional compatible stylus.

Including the stylus implies that Expresso targets creative users who seek a larger, color-accurate display for image or footage review. This could be advantageous for remote photo shoots or film productions, though it requires a hardware budget capable of covering the $700 price for the screen and magnetic stand, as well as additional expenses for the stylus and a protective soft cover.

One notable aspect, among others, is that the screen relies on a single USB-C or Thunderbolt cable for both connection and power, eliminating the need for multiple cables.

With two USB-C ports on the display, it’s possible to power the screen using another USB-C PSU (not provided) or an upcoming power pack.

However, if the panel is powered by a laptop, anticipate a significant reduction in the laptop’s battery life. Our experience with a modern Core i5 laptop, typically boasting an 8-hour battery life, resulted in only 90 minutes of usage with the attached screen. Consequently, an external power source becomes more of a necessity than a convenience.

In summary, while the Expresso 17 Pro showcases an elegant design and features, it caters to a particular market and carries a relatively high price. While it may complement certain workflows, not everyone will embrace the idea of adding an extra screen to their laptop or PC.

Expresso 17 Pro: Design

  • Lightweight
  • Includes stand
  • No power supply

Most contemporary displays are constructed around an LCD panel, typically sourced from a manufacturer other than the brand on the product, and commonly utilized in various scenarios.

When designing a monitor, factors such as styling elements, a power system, and other components all contribute to the overall weight of the design. However, in the case of the Expresso 17, the logic is effectively reversed.

This monitor is stripped down to an LCD panel, resulting in remarkable lightness (1.1kg) and ease of transport.

The sole accessory provided as standard is a supporting stand that folds into a flat rectangle and attaches to the screen using magnets. Magnets are preferred because it’s relatively simple to switch from landscape to portrait orientation and vice versa. However, if the placement isn’t precise, the panel may slide down slightly.

But the most perplexing aspect for new Expresso 17 customers is the absence of a power supply. Instead, you receive a high-quality Thunderbolt/USB-C cable, which is used to connect the screen to a compatible computer capable of transmitting display data and powering the screen through this single connection.

The screen features a second USB-C port, which could be utilized to connect an external power supply. Doing so would ensure that the screen doesn’t drain the battery of the connected laptop, but this is not provided or offered by Expresso as an accessory. There are other accessories that we’ll discuss later, but a power supply is not among them.

It’s crucial to understand that this monitor lacks HDMI or DisplayPort inputs; therefore, without USB-C or Thunderbolt, it cannot be used.

For those using it with a laptop, the screen’s power consumption is significant, potentially reducing the laptop’s battery life to just a couple of hours at most.

These limitations may explain why we haven’t seen another brand attempt something similar, as it represents a niche option requiring a laptop with Thunderbolt/USB-C and a substantial battery.

Another aspect of the screen’s design that warrants discussion is its 4K resolution on a display measuring only 17.3 inches diagonally.

For those curious about the optimal viewing distance to discern all the details in a 4K image displayed on this panel, the visual acuity distance is 0.35 m (1.1 ft), considering that the human eye can resolve details as small as 1/60th of a degree of arc. Since most people wouldn’t sit with the screen just over a foot from their face, much of the potential quality offered by the Expresso 17 may go unnoticed by its users.

What’s noteworthy is the designers’ aversion to unnecessary features, as there are no extraneous ports or buttons. A simple on-screen display (OSD) is accessed via touch on the panel, but even this only adjusts brightness and contrast and toggles the speakers on and off.

What’s particularly frustrating about these basic controls is the absence of percentage values on the bars, which fail to reach full capacity before reaching 100%. This oversight is disappointing and renders precise adjustments impossible.

Expresso 17 Pro: Characteristics

  • Power needs
  • Add-ons
  • Applications

When a display is being driven and simultaneously powered, a USB-C or Thunderbolt port has certain limitations on the amount of power it can deliver. The power requirements of the Expresso 17 fall within the capabilities of most (though not all ports). The Expresso website features a list of Apple and Intel hardware compatible with the monitor, although we discovered that it works well with most modern Thunderbolt-equipped devices.

However, it will not function when connected to the other end of a docking station. Most Thunderbolt docks offer downstream power delivery of 15W or less, insufficient to power the Expresso 17.

One of the add-ons addresses this issue by supplying additional power to the second USB-C port on the Expresso 17. Named “the Charge,” this 32,000mAh rechargeable battery shares the same shape and size as the Stand Pro and connects to it, creating a modular solution.

This item costs an additional $199/£150/€159 and increases the overall package weight by another 1kg.

A more economical alternative is the expressoPen, designed to provide over 4000 levels of sensitivity to the screen’s touch feature, enabling the Expresso 17 to transform a Mini PC or laptop into a drawing and sketching platform. Priced at $89/£90/€99, it is more budget-friendly than most, and it can be recharged using USB-C. To further enhance the drawing experience, Expresso also offers a paper-like surface called Creator, which can be added to the screen.

This accessory not only provides a drawing sensation more akin to paper but also safeguards the screen from accidental damage and reduces reflections from the highly glossy display. Each pack costs $59/£60/€69 and contains two sheets.

In addition to these, we also received an expressoCase 17 with our review unit. This offers a soft cover for the display that also functions as a simple support, priced at $69/£59/€69. It would be suitable for those looking to travel as lightly as possible and leave the Stand Pro behind.

The last extra feature is provided at no extra cost. Expresso has extensive functionality, usually present on screens, through expressoFlow, a software application. This tool allows for added features, including automatic screen rotation, management of workspaces, and simplified app snapping.

While these features are convenient for PC users, this software tool is essential for Mac users. This is because without installing it, touch functionality will not work at all on Apple machines. Additionally, users of the screen with an iPad or iPhone do not have touch capabilities at all.

Expresso 17 Pro

Expresso 17 Pro: Performance

  • Functionality
  • DC-3 Colors
  • 450 nits

Despite any minor flaws, the panel chosen for the Expresso 17 Pro is highly capable.

However, before delving into its strengths, there are a few areas that could have been improved.

To begin with, the backlight on this panel exhibits significant bias towards the bottom left, resulting in approximately a 3% variance in brightness between that corner and the top edge. While not a substantial difference, it does lead to slight unevenness in brightness.

A more significant concern is the overall brightness of the screen. Although Expresso claims 450 nits for this panel, our display analysis revealed a maximum brightness of only 350 nits, rendering the screen too dim for HDR content. Understanding why it isn’t brighter is simple, but wishing for greater brightness won’t alter reality.

Setting those points aside, the color accuracy is commendable for the most part. While it may only cover 85% of Adobe RGB, it achieves 97% of DCI-P3 and offers full coverage of sRGB.

Although it is advertised as 100% DCI-P3, 97% is sufficiently close given the variations between manufactured units.

The Gamma track is precisely set to 2.2, and at 100% brightness, it achieves nearly a 1000:1 contrast ratio. Analysis conducted with Datacolor SpyderX Elite rated the Gamut, Tone Response, and Contrast as all 5 out of 5, with color uniformity and accuracy rated at 4 out of 5.

This is a first-rate display suitable for most creative endeavors that don’t require precise Pantone matching.

Expresso 17 pro: conclusion

The Expresso 17 represents a distinctive product that pushes the limits of what can be achieved with current display technology and USB-C/Thunderbolt connectivity. However, it carries a similar price tag to that of a MacBook Pro, drains your laptop battery quickly, and requires USB-C or Thunderbolt ports on the host system to function.

Setting aside the inherent impracticality of utilizing a 4K display measuring only 17.3 inches diagonally, while the color accuracy is exceptional, the 450 nits of brightness may not suffice for HDR use. Given the power source, increasing the brightness further was likely not a feasible option.

Additional spending on accessories is possible to address power consumption and screen glare issues, as well as to include a stylus and provide protection during transit. However, this results in a significant investment, potentially exceeding $1000. For those seeking to present a secondary display to clients, a portable projector might offer better outcomes.

For the majority of users, the Expresso 17 may be too expensive and come with several usage constraints. However, it may prove ideal for the select few who can afford it.

  • Interoperability: TB4, TB3, USB 4.0, USB-C
  • Quantity of Ports: 2
  • Connectors: 2x USB-C
  • Stated Color Specification: 100% DCI-P3
  • Panel Depth: 10 bits
  • Dimensions: 397 x 245 x 9mm (W x D x H)
  • Mass: 1.1kg
  • Included Add-ons: Stand Pro
  • Touch-enabled: Yes
  • Maximum Refresh Rate: 60Hz

More like this