Plugging a second display into your laptop is nothing new. Even smartphones have had the ability to hook up to a TV or monitor via MHL for years. But ASUS's latest ZenScreen MB16AC display, shown at Computex 2017 in Taipei, takes this concept to the next level, with a lightweight, super-portable 15.6-inch panel with some innovative stand options.
First, the nitty gritty specs: This is a relatively plain-looking Full HD IPS LCD display at15.6-inches, with a single USB Type-C port on the bottom-left edge, along with menu controls and a power switch.
That's about it. No internal battery, no extraneous plugs, ports or features. Just some relatively low-key ASUS branding, and the company's concentric circle pattern on the ZenScreen's the metallic back. Plug it in, and it just works, providing your laptop, tablet or phone with a second 1920x1080 canvas to work with, either as a mirror of your main display, or an extension of your workspace. On supported smartphones — we tried a Galaxy S8, which worked, and a OnePlus 3T, which didn't — it'll mirror the display, letting you share whatever's on your screen.
The ZenScreen is stupidly thin and light; big enough to add a useful amount of screen space, yet small enough to fit in a laptop bag.
But the insane genuis of the ZenScreen isn't in what it does, but in the experience it delivers around it. It's 0.3 inches thin — comparable to an iPad Pro — but since there's no battery inside, it's ludicrously light, at just 1.3 pounds. For a screen of this size, it's easy to carry in one hand, and not impossible to fit in a large laptop bag.
A magnetic smart cover is bundled with the ZenScreen, allowing it to be propped up at a couple of different angles in landscape orientation. But there's also a pen hole in the lower right corner, which lets you slot a pen in there and stand it up in either portrait or landscape. It works with just about any pen — there's no special requirement. (You'll need to configure the display accordingly on your computer if you want portrait mode, though.)
The ASUS ZenScreen is an example of how sometimes, the best technology is just really, really simple. When it starts shipping in the U.S. in June, it'll sell for $249, making it a very tempting purchase for road warriors.
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