The AOC 16" Portable USB monitor is an inexpensive 2nd monitor for your Mac that works solely off of power drawn through your Mac's USB port. Could this be the second screen solution for you? Read the review to find out!
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Review: AOC Portable 16″ USB Monitor

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I was very excited to give the AOC Portable USB Monitor a test drive as I have always felt having a 2nd screen would increase my productivity at work.   While working, I constantly have all kinds of windows open on my computer.  From email, to my calendar, to multiple internet tabs, to my word processing program, the screen of my Macbook is always cluttered with windows to the point where it becomes difficult to keep track of them all.   I have often pined for the extra screen real estate a second screen brings.

Would the AOC Portable USB Monitor prove to be a solid second screen and great solution for more screen real estate?  Read on to find out.

Screen Set-Up

Setting up the AOC Portable Monitor was not completely straight-forward due to the somewhat lacking included instructions.  In the box was just a short picture demonstration of how to plug the monitor into your computer and stick the driver installation CD into your computer.

This is where I ran into the first problem.  As an owner of a Retina Macbook Pro with no CD drive, I had no immediate way to install the driver.  The screen is unusable on a Mac without the driver found on the CD.   Luckily, I was able to Google the name of the monitor to find AOC’s website and the driver available for download on the USB Monitor’s support page. It would have been nice to see a mention of the availability of the driver online on the short instruction sheet included right in the box.   As many of the latest Macs are now shipping sans optical drive, not including directions of how to download the driver online seems to be a bit of an oversight.

Once I located and installed the driver and plugged in the USB monitor, it was smooth sailing and great performance from there.  The monitor sprang to life and was immediately useable upon plugging it into my Macbook’s USB port.

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 One great feature of the AOC Portable 16″ Monitor is the ability for it to work entirely off of a USB port without any power supply.  This made it easy for me to put the monitor anywhere I wanted on my desk without having to worry about any cords having to reach the nearest outlet.  This is a major plus for me over a standard 2nd monitor that would have required my already cluttered desk to have to deal with yet another cord.

The monitor is able to work in both portrait and landscape mode.  The stand on the back is rotatable to allow the monitor to sit in both of these orientations on your desk.  The box advertises that the screen auto pivots when the screen is rotated to a different orientation.  This was another feature that I struggled to get working right out of the box.  Despite me pivoting the screen and turning the stand to a new orientation, the screen orientation never changed automatically.

The stand on the back rotates to allow you to use the monitor in portrait or landscape orientation.

The stand on the back rotates to allow you to use the monitor in portrait or landscape orientation.

Upon doing a little experimenting, I figured out that I had to go into my Mac’s display settings and pivot the screen from within those settings.  I’m not sure why my screen would not auto-pivot or if this is just a feature that only works when it is plugged into a Windows PC.  Again, the lack of any true manual in the box left me scratching my head for awhile.  I could see someone with less knowledge of how to work their Mac’s settings really struggling to figure out how to switch the orientation of the screen.

Once I figured out how to change the screen orientation, I appreciated this feature quite a bit.  Landscape orientation, in my opinion, works better for my day to day computing needs, but it was nice to have the taller landscape mode when working on longer documents.   Portrait orientation allowed me to see more than one page at once while reading or editing them.

The screen in the taller portrait orientation.

The screen in the taller portrait orientation.

Screen Performance

The AOC Portable 16″ USB Monitor has a resolution of 1366 x 768 and offers a 500:1 contrast ratio.  While you would never confuse this monitor for a super high end display (especially when it is sitting next to a Retina screen as it was in my case), the picture quality is quite acceptable and clear.  I had no issues using the screen to surf the web, read documents, and respond to emails.

Photos had good brightness and color on the USB Monitor.  Text, while not quite as sharp as a higher-end monitor, was very readable and clear.  I did not get any eye strain from working on the screen even for long periods of time.

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One feature this screen does not offer is any way to adjust the brightness of the screen.  There are no adjustment knobs or buttons available anywhere on the monitor nor any way I could figure to adjust the brightness via my computer.  Thankfully, the default brightness seemed to be just about perfect for day to day use.  It would have been nice to have the ability to dial the brightness down a bit in a dark room, however.

Portability

AOC touts the ease of portability of this monitor and advertises it as a great tool for the frequent traveler or on-the-go presenter.  The stand does fold up nicely into the back of the monitor and the monitor itself is exceptionally light in weight.  When folded up it is about the thickness of a laptop and would slide quite easily into a messenger or laptop bag.  Combined with its ability to work without a separate power cord that you would have to lug around, I could see this monitor being a great solution for someone who desires to have a second monitor available to them on their travels.

Verdict

While the monitor setup was not as straight forward and easy to set up out of the box as it could have been, once I got the AOC Portable 16″ USB Monitor running, I found it to be a highly effective 2nd monitor for my Macbook.  I loved the fact that I didn’t need yet another cord running across or around my desk to power a 2nd monitor.  I also liked the fact that the screen is very light-weight and portable and envision myself being willing to take it with me when I have work to get done on the road.

While there are fancier, higher resolution, and larger sized monitors available for use as a second screen in your office or at home, it is tough to beat the price, value, and portability of the AOC Portable Monitor.  For as low as $89.99 on Amazon.com, the AOC Portable Monitor is a functional solution for anyone looking to add a second monitor to their home or work computer on a tight budget.

After spending some time with the AOC Portable Monitor, I’m definitely a convert to the idea of having a second monitor.  I enjoyed the extra real estate and organization a second monitor brings to my computer workflow.  The ability to have a word processing program open on one screen and a web browser open on the other does wonders for my productivity and saves me from the annoyance of flipping back and forth constantly between open windows on my computer.

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Availability

The AOC 16″ Portable USB Monitor is available right now from a variety of different dealers via AOC’s website ranging in price from $89.99 to $136.02.

The AOC 16″ Portable USB Monitor was provided for review on iSource by AOC through MaxBorgesAgency.   For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.

 

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