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Asus MB168B+ - Portable Monitor

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USB monitors haven't, up to now, had the best of times. Generally saddled with poor resolutions and lacking the hardware required to do justice to smooth movies and fast- changing games, they've remained niche products. However, with the 15.6in Asus MB168B+ their time may have come - it boasts high performance, and a resolution that can stretch right up to 1920x1080.

It's stunningly light, too. Weighing 800g (2kg when in its case), it can be whipped out in a second. Its sleek looks and lack of bulk make it an item you'll love to twist and turn around. The Asus comes with a Smart Case, the top of which folds out to provide a soft felt stand for the screen. We were initially sceptical about this arrangement, but it's more stable than you might think, and we had no problems with the panel slipping out of place. You have a choice of positioning it either at an angle, or bolt upright.

Asus MB168B+

Asus MB168B+

One word of warning. The nature of the case/stand means that the whole setup consumes a fair amount of desk space. If the idea is that you want the MB168B+ to take up the minimum amount of space on your desk, then you would have to devise another means of standing it up. It could be leant easily against a stack of books or wall. Assuming you were happy that it wouldn't slip over, then you would still be faced with the dilemma of how to get it to stand at the right angle for optimum picture quality. It's only a TN panel, but the viewing angles are good for a screen of this type. Even so, some ingenuity might be needed if you wish to do away with the case/stand.

It's stunningly light

It's stunningly light

Using the screen itself is easy. It operates with DisplayLink. Install the software and then connect the monitor to your computer using the USB cable. You'll need USB 3.0 for the smoothest results, although it can work on USB 2.0 ports as well. You don't get the same level of performance here, but it's still more than enough for office applications.

The controls are simple enough, consisting of an on/off button and the brightness adjustment control. In fact, the screen will automatically adjust its brightness to suit the room conditions, but Asus also gives you the option of changing the settings yourself, just in case.

Ultimately, though, the success of this screen will depend on how good it is as a viewing device. It's only a TN panel, so you don't get a stunning color palette. Nonetheless, the different shades offer snap, and the viewing angles are solid. It's certainly no match for the likes of an IPS display, but as a standard TN panel it's more than sufficient. The screen coating is matt, so you won't be driven crazy by reflections.

Using the screen itself is easy

Using the screen itself is easy

In USB 3.0, the screen was able to handle full 1080p without any problems at all. The image was clear, and we were able to use the full extent of the panel. More critically, it has the grunt to work with video, and our HD movies were impeccably smooth.

It wasn't as perfect in games. The stated response rate is only 11ms, and there were occasions in our fastest moving arcade games when the graphics didn't change as smoothly as on our standalone 4ms monitor. For the most part, though, it'll be more than adequate, and only the most finicky of gamers will find it a problem.

Verdict

The MB168B+ does have some of the limitations of TN panels, but in other respects, it's stunning and the best USB screen yet.

It's stunning and the best USB screen yet

It's stunning and the best USB screen yet

Specs and price

·         Price: $300

·         Type: USB monitor

·         15.6in (1920x1080) WLED TN panel

·         pixel pitch 0.179mm

·         brightness 250cd/m2

·         contrast ratio 600:1

·         viewing angle 140/120

·         response rate 11ms

·         USB 3.0

·         power consumption under 5W

·         379x236x8mm

·         800g

Rating

·         Build: 4/5

·         Features: 3.5/5

·         Performance: 3.5/5

·         Value: 4/5

·         Overall: 4/5

 

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