The monitor came nicely packaged in a bright blue box with plenty of foam to cushion it on its journey. In the box, you get:
- The monitor itself
- A foldable, adjustable wire stand
- A wall AC adapter
- Two USB cables (micro-micro and full-micro)
- An HDMI cable
- Some instructions
My first impressions of the unit are very positive. I was surprised to see it features not only a slot for some kind of mystery stand, but also a threaded mount for a standard tripod -- this makes it easy to mount the display using the plethora of hardware that exists for mounting a camera or lights.
The unit is thinner and lighter than I expected; the enclosure is very rectangular, flat, and the bezel is reasonably thin. Obviously, this is not a touchscreen device; touchscreens this large for the Pi do exist but they are considerably more expensive.
What also struck me is simply how large this display is -- almost as large as the screen on my MacBook Pro. This is definitely the largest 5V Raspberry Pi monitor I've come across.
Turning on the unit, the colors are vivid and the resolution is respectable. And because this is an IPS display, it doesn't suffer from the same viewing angle limitations that cheaper monitors do; you can look at the monitor from nearly any angle and the content remains highly visible.
Getting started took only minutes -- the monitor is plug-and-play for the most part and only needed a tiny bit of configuration to get things displaying perfectly on the Pi.
Below are the specs for the monitor:
|Audio||Two way audio output, 8 Ω2W headphone jack|
This monitor is aesthetically pleasing, with clean lines and a slightly beveled bezel. On the top you'll find some buttons and along the right side you'll find the ports.
The monitor features a pretty thin bezel, measuring 0.5" on the top and sides and 1" on the bottom. The housing measures 12.5"W x 8"H and is 0.625" thick. The screen itself is 11.25"W x 6.5"H, a 16:9 aspect ratio.
These compact dimensions and narrow bezel make this ideal for creating portable Pi projects that require a large screen (more on that later).
Even though this SunFounder Raspberry Pi monitor is light, that doesn't mean it has to feel cheap. On the contrary, it feels quite sturdy. The plastic is high quality and the unit feels rigid overall. The buttons are clicky and the panels fit together nicely with no gaps.
The included stand, on the other hand, is nothing to write home about. It's a cheap adjustable wire stand coated in plastic. The display sits on it like some kind of display stand, which means the bar from the stand is visible on the front. It would've been nice if they'd used a more "custom" stand that utilized the mysterious mount/slot on the back of the unit. On the plus side, it does allow you to position the monitor at just about any angle.
This monitor boasts a respectable 1920x1080 resolution -- for a monitor this size, that's pretty high. Text, photos, and graphics were all crisply visible in a wide color palette.
Refresh rate and response time
The monitor has a refresh rate of 60Hz with a response time of only 5ms; this is more than sufficient for any Pi project or for emulating video games using a Raspberry Pi.
Because this is an IPS display, a very wide viewing angle of 178° is possible. This means the the display is visible from nearly any angle. Most cheap displays degrade or invert the display when you look from the top or side, making them unusable for projects like magic mirrors.
Overall, the surface shows very little glare. It appears to have some kind of matte finish on it which is really nice.
One thing that I love about this display is that it can be powered using either 12V or 5V, making it ideal for portable projects!
The included AC adapter provides 12V when plugged into the wall. So in addition to powering the unit using a 12V battery, you can also use the micro USB port on the side labeled "5V" to either supply power to something (like powering a Pi), OR to power the unit using a 5V power source that supplies at least 2A.
This is very unique in that a single port can be used as either an input or output with automatic detection. More importantly, many portable Pi projects are 5V since USB is 5V. This means that power banks which provide enough output amperage, such as Nintendo Switch power banks, can easily power the screen for a sustained amount of time (while also powering your Pi).
There simply aren't many large 5V displays out there -- trust me, I've looked. :) It's nice to finally find one that just works.
On the right side of the unit you'll find several ports:
- A 12V DC input port
- A 5V@2A micro USB input or output port - this port can either provide power (if a 12V power source is connected), or power the monitor (if a 5V power source of at least 2A is connected)
- Two HDMI input ports, allowing for two different devices to be connected
- A 3.5mm headphone jack for outputting sound (should you choose not to use the built-in speakers)
On the top of the unit, you'll find a row of buttons for controlling the monitor. There are buttons for turning the unit off and on, switching between the two HDMI sources, controlling volume, and accessing the menu to control things like brightness, colors, and contrast settings.
Although this monitor can be used with any computer, most people will probably be using it with a Raspberry Pi. To get it working properly on the Raspberry Pi, you'll need to configure your Pi slightly. This will ensure that proper resolutions are used for things like RetroPie.
To install this software, simply edit your Pi's
/boot/config.txt file either by putting its SD card into your computer and browsing for the file or by connecting to your Pi via SSH and running the following command:
sudo nano /boot/config.txt
Once this file is open, add the following line below
hdmi_cvt=1920 1080 60 3 0 0 0
Then, edit the following lines like so, removing the leading
# if there is one:
disable_overscan=1 hdmi_group=2 hdmi_mode=87 hdmi_drive=2
When you're finished, save and close the file.
Two tiny speakers on the rear of the unit provide stereo sound. Though the sound quality isn't amazing, it blew me away how loud they got -- seriously, these speakers are insanely loud. Unfortunately, they lack a lot of bass and don't sound amazing. But for basic videos and video games, they're more than sufficient.
There are a ton of Raspberry Pi projects that you can build with this display, either portably or plugged into the wall. Here are a few that I thought of:
Retro gaming rig or mini arcade cabinet
Digital picture frame
Build your own Raspberry Pi digital picture frame to display your Google Photos or other photos that you've taken. The display resolution is ideal for this project.
Raspberry Pi calendar
Make a dedicated Raspberry Pi calendar for your wall or desk.
Because this Pi monitor can be powered using a battery, a whole new world of portable projects has opened up. I'm currently working on a portable project that uses this display -- a large portable retro gaming rig.
I've built dozens of display-based Raspberry Pi projects over the years and each display has always had some sort of glaring drawback.
Overall, I think this 13.3" monitor from SunFounder has broken the mold. The fact that this display is both large AND can be driven using a 5V power source sets it above the rest.
This monitor is durable, slim, beautiful, and a great value for the price. Its 1920x1080 resolution makes it the ideal choice for a wide range of Pi projects -- especially those where a large portable screen is needed.
It includes all the right ports and buttons, has a wide viewing angle, and I'm very happy with it! If you're looking for a large display for your Pi project, this is an excellent choice.
The Raspberry Pi Pico and Raspberries Pi Zero are miles apart when it comes to specs, form factor, and software support.