Review: Portable LCD Screen for Raspberry Pi

Something that can come in very handy when using a Raspberry Pi is a smaller monitor that’s easier to handle than your typical 20″ that was lying around the house. In fact, if you can get the monitor small enough, you might even be able to make a compact project with a display.

Lucky for us, Adafruit designs 800×480 5″ LCD screens that are perfect for pairing with the Pi. You can even get a version with touchscreen capabilities:

Since we were going on the road with some Raspberry Pi demos, we decided to invest in one of these guys. We thought it was cool enough to tell you guys about it, too!

Awesome Things About the LCD Screen

  1. The controller board is connected to the LCD
    A lot of LCD screens out there are 2 pieces. The fact that this screen is all one thin piece is fantastic.
  2. The screen is powered via a microUSB-to-USB cord to the Pi
    Powering the screen is as easy as plugging into one of the Pi’s 4 USB ports. This also means that your Pi-Screen combo’s range is only limited by how long your micro-USB and HDMI cord are. Using 6″ inch cords also makes for a very compact combination.
  3. The size makes it super portable
    5″x3″ is very small. The screen is barely bigger than the Pi itself. This makes it very useful for demonstrations on the road when you want to show off what’s going on on the Pi without lugging a huge monitor around. It’s also very handy for getting the Pi’s IP address so you can SSH in. We didn’t give the Pi a static IP and were using our phone’s hotspot for WiFi, so this was invaluable.
  4. The color quality is great
    Just look at that picture up there. It’s great.
  5. With the new and improved Pi 2, real websites can be viewed/used
    Something sad about the B+ was that it pretty much had problems with any site that used JavaScript. The Pi 2, however, is a champ and can run most sites no problem. Then seeing these sites on the little LCD screen – it’s so cool!
    The coolest one in particular was going to Initial State. You could be streaming stuff on the Pi and watch as it ticked in in real-time.
    LCD Monitor IS

Mediocre Things About the LCD Screen

  1. The touch screen doesn’t work very well
    The touch screen was not very responsive when using the GUI on the Pi. I could definitely see it working better with applications specifically designed for touch screen interaction.
  2. The screen size has to be set manually
    There definitely would have been a bit more of a wow-factor if the screen automatically knew how big it was. That being said it was very easy to fix. You just need to edit /boot/config.txt and modify these lines:

    # uncomment if hdmi display is not detected and composite is being output
    # uncomment to force a specific HDMI mode (here we are forcing 800x480!)
    hdmi_cvt 800 480 60 6 0 0 0
  3. You can’t plug anything else into the USB ports and power the LCD until you’ve modified the power output.
    This is also solved by editing /boot/config.txt. Just add this at the bottom of the file:


For the most part, the mediocre things are minimal and easily remedied. The coolness factor of having a little screen to tote around with your Pi is definitely worth the $75.

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