August 9, 2013

REVIEW: AOC E1649FWU 16" Portable USB Monitor

As more and more daily tasks are being executed using computers, having only one monitor is becoming ever more inconvenient. If you were working on a project, for example, with one Office window open, you would have no room for a Chrome window to be open. To combat this issue, the innovators at AOC have brought a new breed of monitor to the market.



Connection
This monitor does not use VGA, DVI, or even a power cable. Everything needed to power the monitor is a single USB connection when connected to USB 3.0. That said, if you are connecting through USB 2.0, 2 USB ports will be used, for one for power and one for data. The included Y-cable can be used for either of these situations.



Display
While this product definitely has the cool factor, the display itself is not as innovative. Looking at the spec sheet, the display features a dismal 1:500 contrast ratio and has very limited viewing angles but is LED backlit. With a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels and a screen size of 15.6”, it was built to be used with laptops. AOC also offers a 22” version of this monitor with a higher resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. Unfortunately, brightness is not adjustable.


Design
The display is within a glossy black plastic housing. The rounded rear features the mini USB connection and the pivoting stand. The stand, when closed, is recessed and is flush with the back. The plastic allows the device to be light but it sacrifices the feel of quality. It also attracts fingerprints and accentuates scratches. On the front, the display itself is also glossy so it may make the product hard to use in bright light. The stand on the monitor also has a rounded bottom which makes it unstable on a flat surface at times. A really nice feature about the design is that it is about the same form factor of a standard 15.6" laptop so it should fit into most laptop bags.




Features
This monitor has a built-in accelerometer for utilizing the auto rotate function. When the appropriate drivers are installed, the monitor will flip the screen according to its current orientation. This may be useful in certain situations but when we used it, just moving the monitor will cause it to detect a rotation. During the rotations, all other screens that are connected to the computer will flash a black screen then come back moments later. This is because it takes a second or two for Windows to adjust to the monitor’s new orientation. Do not expect the auto rotate feature on this monitor to be as fluid as the ones on mobile devices.


Pros
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Same form factor as most 15.6" laptops
  • Single USB cable used for power and data 
  • Reasonable price ($99 at local Canada Computers and TigerDirect.ca)
Cons
  • Auto rotate requires 1-2 seconds
  • Auto rotate flashes all screens
  • USB can be loose when moving monitor
  • Wobbly in portrait mode
  • Non-adjustable brightness
  • Dismal contrast ratio (1:500)
  • Feels more plasticy than a SIII or Note II

This product is marketed towards users that will use it daily and on the go but the durability and build quality is questionable. If you need an extra monitor on the go, this will do the job but be careful not to drop it.

Tim Mui is the founder of [blank]'s Universe. He is also a technology enthusiast that particularly enjoys the fields of computers, photography, and Pro Audio and Lighting. In his spare time, Tim enjoys playing the french horn and tinkering.