Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Portable 2nd Monitor for the Surface Pro 3 ( and TwoMonUSB issues)

As a road warrior, often in different settings, I am interested in a 2nd, portable monitor for my Surface Pro 3. So here was my thought process.

I tried to use TwoMonUSB to make my iPad the second monitor. At first it worked quite well. Great idea, a backup device with some apps I don't have on the surface and I can use it as a second screen. But then my Surface Pro 3 was rebooting randomly during idle times or the screen wouldn't light up after an idle timeout and then I would have to hard boot it. I was getting a bugcheck almost daily, sometimes multiple times a day. So after Refreshing the PC I decided that the $10 app approach wasn't going to work. I am not certain that it was TwoMonUSB but it seems the likely candidate.

But I need a second screen so here are the attributes that are important to me::
Weight: Not weigh me down -> less than 4 lbs
Screen Resolution: Work well with surface -> 1440 x 1080 (if possible)
Power: hopefully it will be able to work without AC available -> less than 5W typical energy consumption
Size: Big enough to see the screen  >12 inches but not so big I can't fit it in my bag <18 inches="" p="">
Price: less than $300 USD

This means that I need a DisplayLink Monitor that weighs less than 4 lbs, use USB for power and transmission of data, is at least 12 inches


Candidates
Weight (lbs)
USB
Screen Res
Power (Max) W
Power Typical (W)
Size
Response Time (ms)
Price (USD)
Comments from reviews
ASUS MB168B+
1.76
3.0
1920x1080

<5 p="">
15.6"
11
299
Works with Surface Pro 3, July 16, 2014 By Glenn Hanner 
The Surface Pro 3 will not power the monitor on its own. The USB3 port does not have enough power.

ASUS MB168B
1.76
3.0
1366x768

<5 p="">
15.6"
11
158

2.76
3.0
1600x900
7
4
14"
8
179

3.39
2.0
1366x768
5

15.6"
12
?

AOC E1649FWU
2.34
2.0
1366x768


15.6"
16
90
Works off of Surface Pro 3 battery power
One usb
Andrew Nov 28, 2011 "Uncontrollable brightness… I contacted AOC and they confirmed that you cannot control the brightness"


AOC E1659FWU

3.0
1366x768


15.6"
8
124
Includes carry case, auto pivot
AOC E1759FWU

3.0
1600x900


17.3"
10
200
"The Surface Pro 3 … USB port doesn't put out enough power for the screen. "

Lenovo Think Vision LT1421
2.25
2.0
1366x768


14"


Bulky in back not flat

The ASUS MB168B+ (don't forget the plus) has a great screen resolution but per reviews I won't be able to use it without external power. I was torn -- maybe there would be a way to monkey with brightness settings and get it to work. But the carrying case for it was also not good and lots of folks complain about the stand and it is the most expensive of the items.

I considered the 17 inch AOC E1759FWU that has pretty good screen resolution (1600x900) but again reviews identified the issue with power.

I also considered HP's S140u but I am also concerned that the 7 W maximum power won't work and I could find many reviews, and certainly none where it was paired with the Surface Pro 3.

So I decided that I would try the 16 inch AOC E1659FWU -- I can get a second screen with pretty decent response rate that should (most reviews have said it worked) for my power constraints with the Surface Pro 3. It includes a good case and great stand and is only a little more expensive than its predecessor the AOC E1649FWU.

When all is said and done I may decide that the external power isn't as much of a constraint and go for the ASUS MB168B+ (also need to get a better stand, but that means yet more stuff to carry).


So for now I am looking forward to the arrival of the 16 inch AOC E1659FWU.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

3/17/15 update: Well the AOC E1659FWU is working well, my surface pro 3 can indeed drive the power requirements, which according to the manual is 8 W, whether plugged in or on battery. However, when I plug it in through my Belkin USB hub/Ethernet adapter it won't power up without getting extra power from the USB outlet on my surface charger. Whereas plugging into two of the ports on the Belkin USB hub doesn't do it. (the screen keeps flickering on and off)
Conclusion: If I need to plug in for Ethernet or any other USB device then I must plug in for external power. But the other day I got two good hours of using the surface and the AOC on battery power and still had battery to spare.

Update 8/17/2015
-----------------------------------------
The AOC monitor is very fragile-- despite having it in the provided case inside a padded bag it fell 1.5 feet and the screen cracked. So I have switched back to using my iPad as second display when I am not at the office. But instead of TwoMonUSB I use DuetDisplay.

So how does it compare against my original specs:
Weight: Not weigh me down -- less than 4 lbs -- Check 1.3 lbs
Screen Resolution: Work well with surface -> 1440 x 1080 (if possible) Check I have 3 choices 1024x768, 1532x1152 or 2048x1532. (of course the last one gets hard to read) 
Power: hopefully it will be able to work without AC available -> less than 5W typical energy consumption Check of course  the iPad of course has its own battery
Size: Big enough to see the screen  >12 inches but not so  big I can't fit it in my bag <18 inches="" p="">not quite the iPad 2 has 9.7 inch display
Price: less than $300 USD check -- since I already had it -- otherwise no because it cost over $500 but today you could get a used one for less than $300.

Finally the iPad as you all know is an independent device so if I have some problem with the surface then I can use it to do something.

4 comments:

John Smith said...

Thanks for the awesome post and the specifications.


AOC Portable Monitor

Paul Reed said...

Hi thanlks for a great review. I have bought same AOC monitor but can not get it to work from the USB port on the SP3? It works OK off the MS hub but just flashes with the USB port on the actual SP3 itself. Did you have to install the DisplayLink software and if so which version? Thanks

David Lundell said...

I did not have to install DisplayLink.

Behind The Scenes Photo Booth said...

Hope I can help someone a year later, but with the AOC E1659FWUX, I purchased it to use with my surface pro before I knew my tablet was not strong enough to power it. A great work around is using the additional USB cord that is attached with the main cord, along with a cellphone USB (I used a Samsung Adaptive Fast Charging, it also works with an external battery pack if you're not near an outlet.

Cheers!

Eric