These days most serious desktop PC users have two or more monitors setup. There is still some debate as to how much it increases your efficiency but its a trend that seems here to stay. There is one common factor running through this though – desktop. You might be plugging this second screen into a tower or into a laptop but it’s not something that you can take on the road with you or be mobile with in any way.
The AOC E1759FWU LCD USB monitor tries to solve this problem. It is a portable USB connected (and powered) 17″ monitor that can plug into your desktop or into your laptop. When you move it goes inside the provided neoprene case and can go with you.
The E1759 is at first glimpse exactly what you would expect. A 17″ screen with a shiny black bezel and two tiny feet where they touch the desk in landscape and portrait modes and a pop out stand on the back. To a large degree what you see is what you get.
Most monitors use a connector and display protocol such as HDMI or VGA designed from the ground up to work for displays. USB monitors have been appearing slowly over the last few years but USB is inherently a jack of all trades and decidedly not a master of graphics. The E1759 comes with a USB 3.0 two headed cable but depending on the output wattage you might only need to plug one USB head into your computer.
There are however some advantages to using USB. It is ubiquitous and almost any system has a spare USB port which the screen could work from. As a non-standard graphics port you might be able to get your system to accept it as third (or forth) monitor which it would not normally accept. In my case on my laptop at home I already have an external monitor plugged into my HDMI and the use of USB allowed me to run the E1759 to give myself even more screen estate than before. Finally as USB can carry power as well as data you do not need to plug the E1759 into the wall but can run it off your laptop’s battery or an external battery.
Landscape or portrait
Many monitors come with the ability to switch between landscape and portrait and some even on the fly but the E1759 is the easiest I’ve ever seen. The stand on the back works in both landscape and portrait modes so changing is as easy as picking the monitor up and putting it down. The stand also allows an easy adjustment of angle between about 80 degrees and about 45. The drivers are nearly fast enough to keep up and usually take about a second to realise that things have changed and catch up.
If you want to be a little more fixed the back of the E1759 has VESA 75 x 75 mm mounting holes. The screen could then be fixed to a wall or a desk arm.
The actual screen
No matter how portable or convenient a screen is the first question to ask about it is what does it look like? USB monitors have traditionally had very poor response time and have not been any good for anything moving or with a fast refresh rate. The E1759 partially overcomes these problems but not entirely. Video is playable but often with artifacts and blurring. The viewing angle is not great – anything more than a few degrees off centred and the screen become unusable. Colors are never good even at an optimal viewing position looking washed out and poor. In short it’s no good for graphics.
The news is not all bad however. The E1759 works well with text and handles some movement like a scrolling chat room with no problems. This screen is not aimed at media but at text and within that limit works.
The E1759 is Energy Star compliant which we can take to mean a certain level of energy efficiency. AOC also have made their packaging as recyclable as possible with recycled cardboard inserts rather than polystyrene.
Size: 41 x 25 x 1.8 cm
Screen size: 17.3″ diagonal
Response time: 10ms
Resolution: 1600 x 900 at 60Hz
Connectivity: USB 3.0 (works with 2.0)
AOC describes the E1759 as plug and play and while that is technically true once you have all the drivers installed the installation is not a quick process. I installed on my Windows 8.1 PC using the provided the drivers and had to go through a install-reboot-install-reboot-install-crash-reboot-running cycle to get it working. Since the installation it has worked perfectly.
AOC has drivers for Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1. The Mac is supported from 10.8 by the current drivers but there are older drivers available that go back to 10.4, although they are not guaranteed. The E1759 will not work without drivers so forget any ideas of a second screen for your Android tablet via an OTG or with a Chromebook.
With the exception of the screen there are no LED’s or indicators anywhere on the E1759.
The screen itself has adjustable (via software) brightness and contrast but no matter how I set it it was still somewhat washed out. If you have poor vision this and the slight blur on moment will probably mean the screen will not work well for you.
The E1759 has no speakers or microphone and makes no noise at any point.
Input and touch
The E1759 has no controls on the hardware. Other than plugging in cables and setting the stand there is no physical interaction with it at all. The few controls that there are are all software based and controlled via the mouse.
When picking up the screen the smooth piano black plastic feels a little slippy under the fingers and needs a firm grip. The integrated stand is metal and nicely firm to move, staying where you put it.
Ease of Use
Once setup the E1759 is very simple to use. Plug in and go. The only problem is that it that it can often be difficult to figure out how to get your cursor on it after you have moved or rotated the screen. You go through a little mental re-organisation -“Before I had to move my cursor through the bottom right, now it should be the top right…? ”
There is no maintenance or charging required apart from a regular wipe down with a soft cloth to get rid of fingerprints on the glossy black bezels and back.
AOC are a Taiwanese company that has been making screens and TVs for the last 60 years for the export market. They have a range of screens and monitors from 17″ to 34″ with a variety of connection methods and display technologies.
Included In The Box
- 17″ screen with integrated stand
- USB cable with two convention heads on one end for your PC and a USB 3.0 port for the screen
- Black Neopreme case / cover for screen
The E1759 is not the best high resolution screen in the world, nor does it have good viewing angles or color saturation. It claims to be none of these things. What it claims to be is a USB screen that can add a little extra space temporarily to your desktop or be a second screen on the road. If you only want to use it for text or very simple graphics like programming or a chat window this extra space can be very useful. If you want graphics, video or media look elsewhere. Recommended for travellers and mobile office workers who need a little more text space.
The review is based on the AOC E1759fwu kindly provided by AOC