I've started using an attachable second screen with this gaming laptop — and it's awesome

CrowView Mechanical Clamping Display
(Image credit: Future / Elecrow Limited / Dell)

In my role here at Tom’s guide as a computer editor, it’s a privilege to get to test some of the best gaming laptops. And yet I have a terrible confession to make: outside of writing reviews for the likes of the amazing Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (2023), I rarely use a laptop in my regular day-to-day life.  

Well, at least not during work hours. Don’t get me wrong, I’m currently testing the $1,700 Alienware M16 laptop with Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 during my evenings and having a blast playing some of the best Steam games at super slick frame rates. Yet when it’s time to clock on, doing my day job on a single laptop screen just isn’t all that practical. 

My colleague Rory Mellon tried working without a second monitor for a week not all that long ago, and it drove him around the bend. I’m still not sure he’s fully recovered from the experience.

I’m even less well equipped to downgrade to a single screen for work, mainly because my desktop setup is ludicrous overkill. I work across both an Alienware AW3423DWF QD-OLED gaming monitor and a 48-inch LG C2 OLED TV

Dave Meikleham's PC setup

How is a single laptop screen meant to compete with this setup? (Image credit: Future)

Even the biggest and best business laptops aren’t going to cut it when I’m constantly flipping between writing articles in Google Docs, recording footage of the best PC games and editing images in Photoshop on a colossal dual-screen setup.

So what a pleasant surprise it was to discover that I could solve my portable PC / single screen issues with one incredibly handy accessory: an attachable laptop monitor.

Recently, some folks at Elecrow Limited got in touch about letting me test a pretty awesome laptop accessory they’ve been developing for a while now. Said gizmo would be the CrowView FHD Mechanical Clamping Display. And I gotta say, despite some initial skepticism about such a device potentially being a bit gimmicky, I’m now fully down with the concept of attachable laptop monitors.

Despite some early skepticism, I’m now fully down with the concept of attachable laptop monitors.

There’s no denying its screen specs are modest, though. The CrowView is a 14-inch, 1080p IPS display limited to 60Hz, and you can easily spot backlight bleed with dark content during night time usage. Putting those limitations aside, it still pairs surprisingly well with my loaner Alienware M16.

Not that the setup process was a doddle. Though the mechanical clamps on this monitor are sturdy and relatively easy to attach, I ended up having to place the screen upside down so that it would attach to the left of the laptop, rather than the default right-sided position the Chinese manufacturer suggests you use.

Double (lack of) trouble

CrowView Mechanical Clamping Display

Being able to tweak images in Photoshop while browsing through articles has proven super handy thanks to the CrowView.  (Image credit: Future / Elecrow Limited / Dell)

That’s not really a design flaw in the CrowView clamping display, of course. Actually, it proves just how malleable this portable second monitor can be. Its screen rotates 230°, meaning it’s a highly flexible device. The reason I had to flip it from its intended layout is simply due to the fact the only free space I have on my stupidly large L-shaped desk is on the left side, and clamping this 1080p panel onto the right of the laptop would have meant blocking off my main ultrawide work monitor.

After flipping the screen thanks to the "Display orientation" settings on this Windows 11-powered Alienware, I was off to the dual-screen laptop races. It’s been a pleasure using the CrowView display ever since.

Being able to have multiple Tom’s Guide tabs open on a separate screen while I go hunting for articles to link back to while writing on the Alienware M16 has proved to be a productivity godsend. 

Being able to browse multiple tabs while I write on a separate screen has been a productivity godsend.

Attaching a second monitor to this portable gaming PC has essentially turned it into an ultrawide laptop; a concept myself and my gadget-obsessed colleague Anthony Spadafora would love to see become a reality.

Compatible with laptops between 13- up to 16.5-inches, this attachable display has just launched a Kickstarter campaign, which I sincerely hope reaches its goals. 

Working with the CrowView has briefly provided a surprisingly viable alternative and a complete space-saver to a tech writer who normally works across a combined 82-inches of screen real estate.

Turns out, size really doesn’t matter… which is a relief for this vertically challenged Scotsman.

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Dave Meikleham
UK Computing Editor

Dave is a computing editor at Tom’s Guide and covers everything from cutting edge laptops to ultrawide monitors. When he’s not worrying about dead pixels, Dave enjoys regularly rebuilding his PC for absolutely no reason at all. In a previous life, he worked as a video game journalist for 15 years, with bylines across GamesRadar+, PC Gamer and TechRadar. Despite owning a graphics card that costs roughly the same as your average used car, he still enjoys gaming on the go and is regularly glued to his Switch. Away from tech, most of Dave’s time is taken up by walking his husky, buying new TVs at an embarrassing rate and obsessing over his beloved Arsenal.