Often a notebook screen is good for a couple kids working together, but for larger groups, setting up a larger monitor so that everyone gets a good view is essential but a hassle. A new generation of small supplemental monitors make adding a second screen as easy as plugging in a USB cable. That’s because these displays get both data and power from a USB cable. In other words, they’re a snap to set up, do the schoolwork and it put away.
Three recent auxiliary screens show that they each have wide-screen formats, have sophisticated black cases and can stand on their own.
Easily the biggest and heaviest of the three, AOC’s E1649FWU series monitor has a 15.6-inch screen, matching the size of most school notebooks. It sells for $130, making it the bargain display of the group. It can show up to 1,366 by 768 resolution, is rated to deliver 200 nits of brightness and leads the three with a response time of 5ms. At full brightness, the AOC monitor uses only 8 watts of power. Like most recent monitors, it can show more than 16-million colors, and like the Lenovo monitor, it comes with a 3-year warranty. Unlike the other two, it has a pull out stand.
On its own, Lenovo’s $200 LT1421 weighs less than 2-pounds, but is a little thicker than the Toshiba USB Mobile LCD Monitor. It connects to a computer via USB and mirrors what’s on the main display so that everyone can see what’s on the screen. The 14-inch display can show 1,366 by 768 resolution, 250,000 colors and can pump out 200 nits of brightness while using only uses 5 watts of power. It comes with a case that is also a stand where you can adjust the screen’s angle as well as a 3-year warranty.
Toshiba’s USB Mobile LCD Monitor matches the Lenovo display spec for spec, but is a few ounces heavier as well as being longer and wider. Still, it pumps up the brightness level of its 14-inch display to 220 nits, although it uses a slower panel; it uses the widescreen format of 1,366 by 768 resolution, but, like the Lenovo mini monitor, is limited to showing 250,000 colors. The USB Mobile LCD Monitor has controls for turning it on, putting the display into power saving mode or adjusting the brightness. It comes with a case that doubles as a stand, but is only covered by Toshiba for a year. It sells for $200.