LAS VEGAS — Portable USB monitors let you use a second screen with your laptop, even when you're traveling, but they're known more for their convenience than their image quality. Enter Asus's new MB169C+, the first USB-powered monitor with a brilliant, 15.6-inch IPS display and detailed image controls. The $199 monitor, which is due out in the next few weeks, is also the first to be powered by a USB Type-C connection.
We had a chance go hands-on with the MB169C+ at Asus's CES hotel suite and were immediately impressed by the vibrant colors and wide viewing angles on the matte display. Images of a motorcycle and some color swatches really popped, even when we stood far to the left or right. The panel runs at a full 1920 x 1080 resolution, providing sharp images and plenty of desktop real estate for multitasking.
Even better, the monitor has a number of custom settings and adjustments you don't even find on many expensive desktop monitors. A dial and rocker on the right allow you to navigate through several different menus where you can adjust the color profile, tweak the brightness or enable one of four blue light filters. Asus claims that its "Ultra-Low Bluelight Technology" reduces blue light by 70 percent to ease eye strain.
There's also a neat feature called "QuickFit Virtual Scale" which superimposes an alignment grid over the display, with the touch of a button. Professional photo editors can use these grids to help preview images at the correct print size.
At just 1.76 pounds and 0.33 inches thick, the MB169C+fits easily in most laptop bags, while leaving plenty of room for your laptop and other accessories. It comes with a nylon carrying case that folds into a stand to prop it up. Asus says that users who don't have a USB Type-C port on their laptops can connect to the montitor with a USB Type-C to USB 3.0 cable.
A couple of years ago, we reviewed the MB169C+'s ancestor, the MB168B+, which had a similar look and feel and nearly-identical case. We were very impressed with the earlier model's image quality, though we wished the case / stand was a little easier to use. We look forward to putting this new monitor through its paces. If it lives up to its promise, the MB169C+ could be this year's must-have accessory for business travelers.