This 17-inch, 4K touchscreen is the best portable monitor we’ve ever used [Review]


espresso 17 Pro -- simulated screen image★★★★
espresso 17 Pro offers just about everything you could want in a mobile screen.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The espresso 17 Pro checks every box in a premium portable display. It sports a 4K resolution, touchscreen with stylus support, and a sleek design ready for on-the-go use.

The 17-inch screen is brilliant as a productivity enhancement when away from the office, but it’s also intended for digital artists to use everyday. Or just anyone who’d like a touchscreen Mac.

I tested the espresso 17 Pro in my home office and while traveling. Here’s why I love it.

espresso 17 Pro review

You keep a large monitor connected to your MacBook in the office. That’s good — studies show that more additional space to work in makes us more productive. And you don’t have to give up the convenience of a second screen when you’re working remotely. There are many portable monitors on the market. The quality and feature set of these varies wildly, though.

espresso 17 Pro is absolutely the most premium of these I’ve used. It’s top-notch in every category.

Beyond that, the touchscreen and stylus makes it ideal for people who’ve always wanted to draw or paint directly on their Mac.

OMG it looks so good

If you only want the TL;DR question answered, yes, the espresso 17 Pro screen looks amazing. Given its size and 4K resolution, it’s the best-looking portable screen I’ve ever used.

I tested it for my regular work and watching video to relax. I can see this being someone’s second screen for everyday use, and just occasionally taking with them on trips. That’s not true of most portable screens.

Apple puts top-tier LCDs in its computers. When reviewing a screen I always ask myself, “Can I look back and forth between my Mac and notice a significant difference in quality?” In this case, espresso 17 Pro is at least as good and sometimes looks better.

Getting into the details, the LCD is 3840 by 2160 pixels. In my testing, that’s almost more than you need for simple office work on a 17-inch display — I sometimes bumped down the resolution so everything I was looking at wasn’t so small. But it’s nice to be able to ratchet it back up to full resolution for watching video. And if you’re an artist, you’ll want all the pixels you can get.

espresso’s latest offers 257.6 pixels per inch. A 16-inch MacBook Pro is 254 pixels per inch. You won’t see a difference.

The display offers 1 billion colors and the contrast ratio is 1000:1. It has 10 bit color and 100% DCI-P3 color range. The refresh rate is 60 Hz. That’s a very technical way of saying it looks gorgeous.

The backlight maxes out at 450 nits of brightness. In comparison, a MacBook Pro offers 500 nits for SDR content and up to 1,600 nits for HDR content. What this means in real-world use is the LCD looks wonderful in an office, and is quite usable outdoors … out of the sun. That last bit is important.

espresso 17 Pro with a MacBook
It’s portable so I tested the espresso 17 Pro on the road.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

It’s a touchscreen, too

Have you always wanted a touchscreen Mac? Here you go. Just reach up and tap the espresso 17 Pro.

And many of the gestures you’re familiar with from a touchpad also work on the screen. Scroll up and down in a screen with a couple of fingers, for instance.

I find it very intuitive, especially as I frequently use an iPad. That said, keep in mind that macOS and the many third-party apps are designed to be controlled with a mouse and cursor, not a fingertip. That means frequent tiny icons you must tap on.

Artists need an espresso Pen

The espressoPen makes it easy to tap on those minute on-screen elements. But that’s only the start.

The Pen is really for artists. The 17 Pro offers over 4,000 levels of pressure sensitivity when used with the stylus, and my preliminary testing shows it works quite well.

This feature is important enough that I’m breaking it out as a separate article to be published soon. That will keep this review from growing to thousands of words.

The same article will cover Jot, the note-taking application that espresso developed for its pen-based screen. In the mean time, here’s an overview of the software.

Works with all your Apple devices

espresso 17 Pro has two USB-C ports.
espresso 17 Pro has two USB-C ports to connect it to all your Apple computers.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Connect one of the USB Type-C ports on the espresso 17 Pro to a USB-C port on your MacBook and you’re ready to get to work. Or watch a movie. Whatever.

The same goes for an iPad. As long as the tablet has a USB-C port. The touchscreen doesn’t work with iPadOS, though.

And the new iPhone 15 series can also use this portable monitor. I tested to be sure. It’s a great way to watch Apple TV+ shows on a screen much larger than 6.7 inches. But again, no iOS touchscreen functionality.

The peripheral is also compatible with a wide array of Windows computers. As long as they have USB-C video output, of course.

Downsides to the 4K portable screen

espresso 17 Pro in espressoCase
The 17-inch mobile monitor in its espressoCase flip cover is portable but not small.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

As I said, the espresso 17 Pro is the best-looking mobile display I’ve ever used. But there are drawbacks.

One should be obvious: no one can make a 17-inch screen fit into a small bag. espresso tried hard, and this product is slim and has no extra bulk.

It’s 15.6 inches wide, 9.6 inches tall and a mere 0.35 inches thick. It weighs in at 2.4 pounds. For comparison, a 16-inch MacBook Pro is 14 inches by 9.8 inches by 0.66 inches and 4.7 pounds.

It fits in my backpack, but I have one designed to carry lots of gear. If yours just barely holds your MacBook Pro, check if there’s room for a display that’s nearly two inches longer.

The other downside is power drain. A 17-inch LCD takes a lot of juice. If I use my small MacBook to power it, the battery is flat in roughly 1.5 hours.

For true portability, you’ll want an external battery to power your computer and the screen. And not a small one. I used the HyperJuice 245W USB-C Battery Pack while writing this review.

espresso Charge is a battery pack designed specifically for the screen. It holds 32,000mAh/118.4Wh so should be able to keep it going for hours and hours. I can’t test it, though, because it won’t launch until January 2024.

Alternatively, you can connect the espresso 17 Pro directly to a wall charger via its second USB-C port.

And there’s one more weakness. The portable display’s speakers sound tinny and don’t go very loud. They’re usable — barely — in quiet areas. But you’ll surely prefer the speakers in your notebook or tablet. Alternatively, you can connect a high-quality Bluetooth speaker.

Don’t forget the accessories

espresso Stand Pro
espresso Stand Pro is brilliant.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

When carrying around the 17 Pro, you’ll probably want the espressoCase ($69). It clings magnetically to one edge of the screen and protects the LCD when you’re on the go. And that’s not all — when you’re working remotely, flip the cover around the back of the display and fold out the bottom edge to become a stand. This is a portable and stable solution.

For in the office or on the go, there’s the espresso Stand Pro ($99). It folds nearly flat so it’s portable, then expands to become a stand that can hold the screen at a variety of viewing angles and heights. It’s a bit heavy, but I love it and wish there was a version for iPad.

I already mentioned espresso Pen ($89) and espresso Charge ($199).

espresso 17 Pro final thoughts

espresso 17 Pro review -- simulated screen image
The 4K espresso 17 Pro screen looks gorgeous when you’re watching movies.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

I’ve said it already but it bears repeating: this is the best-looking portable screen I’ve ever used. It looks at least as good as a MacBook’s display in most situations.

Even better, it’s a touchscreen so you can simply reach about and tap on that icon you want to select.


That said it’s big and power hungry. And costs a mint.


Premium products come at premium prices and the espresso 17 Pro is no exception. It retails for $999.

Buy it from: espresso

For comparison, consider the KYY K3-3 Portable Monitor. It’s a beautiful 4K monitor, but is smaller at 15.6 inches. And it’s not a touchscreen. However, this product will set you back only $279.99. Read my KYY K3-3 review if that piques your interest.

espresso provided Cult of Mac with a review unit for this article. See our reviews policy, and check out other in-depth reviews of Apple-related items.


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