There are a lot of different display products covering every imaginable type of usage available to consumers all over the world. The companies selling these products include features and accessories to match expectations and arising situations as technologies progress further. One small niche that is almost always overlooked is the portable monitor category also called portable USB PC monitor. We have created a separate guide for the best USB C monitors available. We seldom hear about these products since most digital devices today have a display already built into their hardware, and most of the time, these inclusions are sufficient for regular use. But there are power users on the go who require an extension of their virtual desktop space or those would like an improved sharing solution aside from showing your colleague or companion your screen. But the question is, most separate displays operate with at least two cables, one for power and another for the signal input?
These products we have listed in this buyer’s guide covers that particular need for an external display, without the necessity of a wall socket, a massive power pack, or I/O cables. These portable monitors eliminate the hassles of conventional displays since they draw power and signal from a single source; your gadget’s Universal Serial Bus, or more popularly known as USB. This genre of display tech was not possible a few years go, but with the development of advanced standards such as USB 3.0 and USB Type-C, offerings like these are slowly gaining ground again. There are some early releases on this list, while there are also more recent models as well. This fact goes to show that there are on-going development and production for these gadgets, and with the rising popularity of USB Type-C, ultra portables and smaller sized host devices, we may get a lot more portable monitors to match newer and smaller machines in the future. But for now, these are your current best bets regarding price and performance:
1. Asus MB169C+ Review – USB Type-C Portable Monitor
The Asus MB169C+ is one of the latest models in this lineup, and it features a 1920 x 1080 IPS panel in its 800-gram matte black body. Images are bright and clear, but of course not as vibrant as a real monitor. But what makes it one of the latest is its compatibility with DisplayPort alternate mode or DisplayPort over USB Type-C devices.
It also uses USB Type-C to draw power from your device, so there is no need for separate cables for the gadget’s operation. If you have plans of getting a newer laptop such as Dell’s XPS 13 or Apple’s Macbook 2016, this is a convenient and fully compatible external display for times when you need an extension of the virtual desktop, or you simply would want to view media on a bigger screen.
Aside from these main selling points, the MB169C+ is also wrapped in a protective flap case, similar to those that we use on tablets. It keeps the screen safe from damage and also serves as a stand when you want to use the device on a desk. The product also includes some of Asus’ proprietary monitor features, including Ultra Low Blue Light, GamePlus and Quickfit virtual scale. At less than 200$, this product is currently the top choice in this selection.
2. Asus MB169B+ Review – USB 3 Portable Display
If USB Type-C isn’t an option included in your laptop yet, Asus offers a slightly more affordable option in the M169B+. This model features the same specs from its higher-tiered brother mentioned above, but their difference lies only in the USB version. This iteration uses USB 3.0 as a power and signal source, so in general you also only need one cable. However, on older devices, even those with early USB 3.0 ports, you may need to purchase a Y-cable to operate this gadget.
You may also need to get a better cable to replace the one Asus includes into the package since it is quite short (Asus is notorious for doing this with their mobile products). You are also going to need to install drivers for this model since USB 3.0 devices are controlled by a DisplayLink chip which requires its driver.
There is a CD included, but updated versions can be found on the Asus website as well. But on the better side of things, as mentioned you get the same IPS panel, OSD features and auto-rotating ability, and the flap cover for this model. If you do have a USB Type-C port on your device, you should get the C+ version, and consider getting this if you only have USB 3.0.
3. AOC E1659Fwux Pro Review – FHD USB Monitor
At around $150, the AOC E1659Fwux currently offers one the best price to performance values in this lineup. It has a 1920 x 1080 native resolution similar to the Asus MG169C+, but the price difference dictates the use of a TN panel instead of IPS. This product isn’t a bad choice overall, since colors and contrast are still at acceptable levels, despite the poor viewing angles that we have come to expect from TN.
At 300 cd/m2, this model is also one of the brightest displays in the lineup, since most only offer around 200-220. This gadget is housed in a glossy black frame and is powered by USB 3.0 instead of Type-C making this device compatible with a wider range of currently available and used products between consumers. The cable included for the E1669Fwux splits into a Y on the PC side connector, so you can still use this product for old gadgets.
But since most devices we have today have USB 3.0 ports, you may only need to connect one to operate this device. You also need to install drivers for this device on your laptop to for the DisplayLink chip to function. Instead of a flap cover; AOC has chosen to use a plastic u-shaped stand which folds into the rear of the case, so you can prop this up when you are using it. To top things off, the product is also VESA compatible, but even if it is, that’s a minor feature since this is an on-the-go monitor.
4. AOC E1659Fwu Review – Cheap Portable USB 3 Monitor
At 100$, the E1659Fwu is the cheapest option in this roundup. At a glance, it does not look different from the Pro version, and they use the same USB 3.0 power and signal interface for operation. For saving the $50 difference, you, however, sacrifice the 1920 x 1080 resolution and only get 1366 x 768, which isn’t entirely bad especially if you consider you’re only paying a hundred bucks for a display product.
Images are still sharp and decent, but color accuracies are way off when compared to the full HD iteration. Brightness is also lower at 200nits and contrast still is good at 500:1 for the money. If these are worthy sacrifices to pay less, you still get the same glossy body, folding stand, Y-split USB 3.0 cable, VESA compatibility, and a carrying case in the whole package. The inclusions make this the best bargain out of all the USB monitors available in the market so despite the flaws, your hundred bucks is still money well spent.
5. HP EliteDisplay S140u Review
Marketed along HP’s workstation products, the s140U was meant to extend the virtual desktop space for professionals on the go. This model has a 14-inch viewing space with 1600 x 900 resolution which is obsolete by today’s standards but still is adequate for general use since the aspect ratio still sits at 16:9. So downscaling your 1080p stuff in the computer will still appear uniform and decent.
Initially, this model was selling for $200 or more, but currently, it goes for a lot less at $135 since this is a 2014 model. At this price point, we consider this model to be a great bargain, considering similar spec products also sell for this price range. One good thing about the 1600 x 900 resolution is that it eats less power than the 1080p models found in this selection.
At around two pounds, the matte black case of the s140u feels like it was well-built, and the look does not seem to be outdated even if this is a 2014 model. HP also included a flip case in this product to protect the screen and act as its stand when in use. This offering is a professional-grade product, but right now it’s a good buy if you need a budget monitor extension or as an additional tool for your child to help him in school.
6. Gechic 1503H Review – 15.6″ FHD IPS USB Type-C
At 380$, the Gechic 1503H is the most expensive product in this lineup, but this model offers something the competitors do not. The 15 inch full HD panel looks stunning when compared to regular laptop monitors, even if this product comes from a relatively unknown company. Colors are bright and vibrant, while the viewing angle provided by the IPS panel does not disappoint either.
The 1503H does have a USB type-C port, but at the laptop end of the cord, you will find a Type-A connector since this line is only for power. As for the input signal, Gechic included a mini HDMI to HDMI cable, so in essence, you are going to have to deal with two wires instead of one. This configuration is inconvenient when compared to the single cable options above, but in contrast, what separates Gechic from them is that there is an included proprietary dock in the package.
What this gizmo does is it allows mounting of a power bank (300 grams or less to avoid damage) as an alternative power source instead of using the USB cable. This, however, adds bulk to the total you have to bring with you on the go contrary to just using the cords, but the primary purpose of this design is to enable the use of computer sticks Such as those from Intel and the popular Raspberry Pi. Having a setup like this eliminates the need for a laptop, and we can safely say that that $380 you are going to spend goes into a dual purpose product, both as a screen extension and a mobile computer.
7. Hori FHD Monitor for PlayStation 4
This last entry is an honorary mention in this guide since this is for the Playstation 4 instead of your laptop for work. If you are a hardcore gamer on the PS4, but you need to move to different places a lot, or if you simply do not have enough space in your room, the HORI Full HD Monitor is your answer. The product has everything you need for your gaming sessions since it has built-in speakers and a headset jack, its own OSD, plus the required accessories to operate the display.
This display is proprietary to the PS4, even the design dictates that it attaches on top of it discreetly. There are two HDMI slots for video input, so after using one for the PS4 you can attach your computer or laptop for an all in one setup. While this model does not carry an internal battery and it also does not draw from the PS4, you can use this anywhere you can find a 12v DC power source, like those found in modern cars. So to a certain degree, you can still use this on the go.
Although expensive and quite hard to find nowadays, the image quality is surprisingly good for a mobile display. Gaming on the screen did not seem to create blurs or noticeable delays like what the previous portable devices had, and colors and contrast are surprisingly good even when playing dark games such as Dark Souls 3. This is indeed a luxury item, but if you have a PS4 and would add a little mobility and you want to save space, getting this monitor is a lot better than lugging around a full-sized HDTV.
8. Asus ZenScreen MB16AC – 15.6″ USB-C Portable Monitor
The Asus ZenScreen MB16AC comes in a sleek and sophisticated chassis with a gunmetal gray exterior, reminiscent of the Zen treatment found on the brand’s lifestyle products. the face has minimal plastic strips as bezels, giving users a maximized view of every inch of the screen. On the slightly thicker bottom strip, there are OSD buttons and a hole where you can insert the included Asus Pen to prop up the device.
The device comes with a folding cover which protects the screen while doubling as a stand for both portrait and landscape orientation. Even if you wrap up the AOC I1601FWUX with this, the product will still slip into your carrier case due to its slim proportions. But what sets this offering apart from the options above is its USB-C slot which acts as power and signal sources via a single wire for convenience.
Finally, the IPS screen on the AOC I1601FWUX matches the flair of the whole product, offering excellent imaging via its 1920 x 1080 resolution at 60Hz refresh rate. Colors are vibrant and superbly accurate with a variance of Delta E 1.3, bringing it close to professional desktop displays.
9. AOC I1601FWUX – Affordable USB-C Portable Monitor
The AOC I1601FWUX represents the thrifty side of modernized portable displays without sacrificing utility and performance. This model includes a gray and piano black chassis with reasonable proportions, ensuring that you can discreetly insert it into your laptop sleeve. A folding cover that can transform into a stand is included in the package, so you can both protect and position this gadget according to your needs.
Like the option above, the AOC I1601FWUX utilizes a single USB-C for power and signal transfer from a USB-C equipped laptop. This secondary screen is plug and play, ensuring hassle-free operation without the need for drivers or other cables. this will work with just about any brand of modern laptops available, but be sure that the corresponding port supports DisplayPort alternate mode.
Lastly, the AOC I1601FWUX sports a gorgeous 16-inch IPS screen that comes with specs suitable even for desktop use. Users get to enjoy 1920 x 1080 visuals with a 60Hz refresh rate for smoothness, plus comfortable brightness and satisfying contrast levels.
While this category is probably the least-popular monitor niche, there are still users such as professionals and students who may have a use for extending their virtual desktop space without spending too much money and without the need for an additional power source. These products offer solutions with excellent performance, portability, and pricing for the specific requirements mentioned in this article.
These offerings may not be popular now, but with the new trends set by the development of USB technology, specifically into what USB Type-C and its accompanying technologies such as Thunderbolt can do, we may see a rise in the need for these products soon. USB Type-C is slowly becoming the industry standard for digital products, and even if not all of the selections we made in this article are compatible, their respective manufacturers are taking the step into the right direction by creating independent and convenient gadgets to augment the benefits mobile devices provide.
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