Hands on: Asus MB168B+ portable monitor

By:
6 Jan
2014
15 Comments
 

MB168B-650

Asus is not the first one out with a portable monitor – Toshiba had one two years ago – but the Taiwanese manufacturer’s MB168B+ slim screen is surely one of the smartest and most practical.

Very light at just 800 grams and conveniently powered by a USB 3.0 connection, the 15.6-inch Full HD screen comes in handy for folks who want a large screen on the go – without always carrying a heavy laptop.

I, for one, will be grateful for a second screen to plug into a laptop when I’m reporting at events while overseas. It provides a much-needed additional display, say, for comparing notes, while also not burdening you too much with its weight.

I can move around an exhibition hall with my light ultrabook (about 1kg), while leaving the Asus MB168B+ in the hotel room, where I can set up the two screens for a wrap-up article or editing photos in the evening.

Convenience is one big selling point here. The MB168B+ can be kept in a thin case, making it so easy to carry around. This case also works like a tablet case, which can be folded to prop up the screen at various angles.

And like a tablet, the MB168B+ will auto-rotate after calibrating. This makes for a nice way to read your text, say, vertically, if you wish to. For reporters who like to scroll through narrow lines of text, this is a great feature.

Once powered on, the Asus display can be used like how you’d use a projector, either as a second screen or an extended screen. As an extended screen, it is invaluable for a number of tasks. You can, if you want to, watch a movie on one side and work on the other.

Actually, that’s what I did. I plugged in the MB168B+ to my Sony Vaio laptop, which provides the power for the screen via a single USB 3.0 port. Without having to use its own power connector, the MB168+ remains very portable.

I even played a few HD movies to see how the screen quality is. Generally, the videos remind you of Asus’ Android tablets, which often offer great contrast without overdoing things.

Admittedly, the 11-millisecond response time is not the fastest out there (many promise under 5ms), but it should suffice unless you’re fussing over watching a movie in its immaculate condition while on the go.

The MB168B+ is a great effort by Asus, perhaps marred by a slightly strange setup process. I got error messages when I popped in the CD driver to install on my Windows 8 laptop. Still, despite that, things installed okay and I managed to use the monitor.

Other than that, the US$199 screen is very interesting for those on the move all the time. If you desire a larger screen on the go, without all the bulk involved, then the MB168B+ is a great companion.

Pity the name is a little strange from Asus. This is, in many ways, a breakthrough product which deserved a better name. Apple would have called it Magic Screen or something fancy and easily gone on to sell millions of it.

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Tagged in: Audio-visual, laptops, monitors, PCs, asus, MB168B+, portable monitor, price and availability, review, USB 3.0,  
 
  • yen

    Hi Bro,
    I have a mac mini and can i use asus mb 168b+ as a primary monitor?

    • Kenn

      Yes u can make it as primary monitor with MacMini but u need to install the driver. I did it and it works brilliantly!!!

      It also works well with Acer laptop. Both MacMini or Acer laptop need to install MB168B+ driver in order to make it works well.

      No where to buy from SG but u can import from Taiwan. Price is decent!

  • Jiakang Hu

    Hello Stephen,

    Sorry for late reply.

    1. Wondering if you happen to have any idea about compatibility of the VivoTab Smart with the MB168+

    Answer:
    For compatibility test, MB168 can work on ASUS
    Transformer Book T100’s regular USB port, when its keyboard base is attached.
    MB168 series cannot work through T100’s Micro-USB port on the tablet side. As
    for the ASUS VivoTab Smart, we tried OTG cable but it cannot work due to insufficient
    power output from VivoTab Smart.

    2.How does the auto-rotation function work? Is there a gyroscope / orientation sensor in the monitor?

    Answer:
    Regarding MB168 series.
    Auto Rotate is ASUS exclusive technology, and is under patent pending. Both
    MB168B and MB168B+ have this innovative feature, and it is achieved through a
    series communications between the systems. MB168 can sense directional
    movements and changes, and rotate the screen by interactions between ASUS
    EzLink utility software and the system. Due to patent pending, we cannot
    disclosure further for additional claim details.

    • Stephen

      Hi JK,

      Thanks for your reply.

      So I guess I cannot use the Asus VivoTab Smart with the MB168/+ monitors.

      Will have to test it with AOC’s monitors instead.

      Would you also have any info regarding questions 3 and 4?

      I understand if you can’t reveal any pricing and availability information, but hope you can advise on the stability of the setup (ie. will it fall over).

      For example, I understand that the ProLink monitor is not very stable in portrait mode.

      Thanks,
      Stephen

  • Gilbert

    any idea where to buy one…doesn’t seem to be available in S’pore yet?

    • Jiakang Hu

      Hello Gilbert,

      MB168B+ currently not available in Singapore and we will announce once stock availability.

  • Jiakang Hu

    Hello Stephen,

    I will get back to you asap.

    • Stephen

      Hi JK,

      Just dropping a note to follow-up. Wondering if you happen to have any idea about compatibility of the VivoTab Smart with the MB168+, MB168 or similar products. Even if there isn’t any pricing info at present.

      Cheers,
      Stephen

      • Jiakang Hu

        Hello Stephen,

        Sorry for late reply.

        1. Wondering if you happen to have any idea about compatibility of the VivoTab Smart with the MB168+

        Answer:
        For compatibility test, MB168 can work on ASUS
        Transformer Book T100’s regular USB port, when its keyboard base is attached.
        MB168 series cannot work through T100’s Micro-USB port on the tablet side. As
        for the ASUS VivoTab Smart, we tried OTG cable but it cannot work due to insufficient
        power output from VivoTab Smart.

        2.How does the auto-rotation function work? Is there a gyroscope / orientation sensor in the monitor?

        Answer:
        Regarding MB168 series.
        Auto Rotate is ASUS exclusive technology, and is under patent pending. Both
        MB168B and MB168B+ have this innovative feature, and it is achieved through a
        series communications between the systems. MB168 can sense directional
        movements and changes, and rotate the screen by interactions between ASUS
        EzLink utility software and the system. Due to patent pending, we cannot
        disclosure further for additional claim details.

  • Jiakang Hu

    Hello Stephen,

    Asus MB168+ Full HD resolution: 1920×1080 @ 15.6 inch LED and bundle with Smart Case, also World’s slimmest and lightest USB monitors.

    For AOC e1659fwu do not support full HD resolution @ 1366X768

    VivoTab Smart & T100A tablets do not have any USB port and they only come with mini-usb port.

    T100A require full docking system to support MB168B+.

    • Stephen

      Hi JK,

      Thanks for the info!

      Got a few questions about the product, and would be great if you happen to know the answers:

      (1) If I attach an OTG cable to the tablet’s micro-USB port, and then attach the MB168+ monitor to it, can it be run off the tablet?

      The ReadMe file for DisplayLink’s drivers note that Clover Trail tablet systems are supported in v7.4M4, and Bay Trail tablets are supported in v7.5 of the driver.

      After all, DisplayLink markets the drivers as able to work with Win 8 tablets with CPU speed of 1.2 GHz and WEI graphics score of 3 or better. The VivoTab Smart has a higher-than-required CPU speed and WEI score of 3.2-3.4 for graphics. (ref. http://www.displaylink.com/support/ticket.php?id=52)

      And I assume the T100A has an even higher score.

      I am of course assuming that the MB168+ uses DisplayLink drivers … if not, then my question is moot.

      (2) How does the auto-rotation function work? Is there a gyroscope / orientation sensor in the monitor?

      (3) How sturdy is the stand / case, especially when the monitor is placed in portrait orientation.

      The AOC e1659fwu has a strong kickstand behind. But what about the MB168+? Will the MB168+ hold well in the groove if there are any vibrations, or will it pop out of the groove and come clattering down?

      (4) Any idea what the MB168+ might be priced at? And when it might be available?

      Also any idea if the MB168 (1366×768 resolution) monitor will be available? Since the native resolution of the VivoTab Smart / T100A is 1366×768, it might be better when doing desktop mirroring.

      I called the Asus Concept Store @ Sim Lim Square, and was told that the MB168+ might only be available in March. Worse, the sales lady told me that the monitor requires an HDMI cable (ie. that it is not a pure USB monitor). If so, then I might as well buy the clunky ProLink PRO1301WE.

      Thanks,
      Stephen

    • Stephen

      There’s also this 1366×768 USB monitor from HP competing against the MB168 …

      http://superdeals.insing.com/http%3A/%252Fsuperdeals.insing.com/deals/singapore/Uhp-u160-LED-backlit-monitor/15016

  • Stephen

    How was this compared with the AOC e1659fwu 15″ monitor?

    And any idea if this monitor works with Asus’s own VivoTab Smart and T100A tablets? :-)

    • Alfred Siew

      Hi Stephen, I haven’t tried that. I’ve asked the Asus folks for compatibility with their tablets.

      • Stephen

        Hi Alfred,

        Thanks! Really appreciate your help! :-)

        Stephen