If you spend a lot of time on travel and always need a lightweight secondary monitor to connect to your laptop, the ASUS MB169B+ is a great choice.
PROS: In-Plane Switching (IPS) panel. Sharp 1080p picture quality. Accurate colors. Mac and USB 2 compatible
CONS: Middling dark-grayscale performance. Bundled USB cable too short.
Having a dual-monitor setup is boost for productivity, and it’s especially easy to grab a second panel if you’re working from home or the office. On the move, your laptop is the only screen you got since you can’t chunk your 4K monitor into a backpack. Now, there is a new breed of USB-powered monitors like the ASUS MB169B+ $183.99 at Amazon that make it possible to have multi-screen setups anywhere, anytime. For laptop owners who might benefit from extra screen space, this is very convenient, especially if you travel a lot.
When we reviewed the ASUS MB168B portable USB monitor back in 2016, we were impressed with its color accuracy, portability and sharp 1,600-by-900 image quality. With the new MB169B+ Asus ups the ante with a Full HD (1,920-by-1,080) USB display that, like its predecessor delivers accurate colors and is very travel-friendly.
And, unlike most portable USB monitors that we’ve reviewed, the MB169B+ uses an In-Plane Switching (IPS) panel, thus offers wide viewing angle and vibrant colors. With that, its 1080p blows away the competition making it our top pick for portable USB monitors.
At 14.6 x 9.26 x 0.26 inches and 1.6 pounds, the ASUS MB169B+ is incredibly portable and thinner than competing portable monitors, including the 15.6-inch AOC e1659fwu (14.8 x 9.2 x 0.9 inches, 2.4 pounds) and the 14-inch Lenovo ThinkVision LT1421 (13.2 X 8.6 X 0.85 inches, 2.4 pounds). All of these monitors look similar, only that the MB168B+ doesn’t have an arm, instead, it has a folding carrying case, that rolls into a stand for mounting.
The canvas enclosure weighs 1 pound, meaning that when in the carrying case, the ASUS MB169B+ weighs 2.6 pounds and measures 15.25 x 10.75 x 0.7 inches. Still, it fits easily into one pocket of any travel backpack, and leaves enough room for a small size notebook or tablet.
As expected of Asus, this monitor looks slick, and has a premium feel wrapped in a metallic-colored plastic, just like the lids on Asus’s ZenBook line of ultraportables. Instead of the cheap glossy plastic found on most portable monitors, this one gets a classy trim of matte plastic on the front and sides. All connectors and buttons are housed on the left side: a single micro USB 3.0 port, a power on/off button and a brightness rocker.
Getting your way around the ASUS MB169B+ is pretty straight forward. Asus includes a CD-ROM with its EZlink and Multiframe that lets you connect to your windows, but for those without an optical drive al utilities are available for download on support.asus.com. As with most portable USB monitors, the ASUS MB169B+ is powered by a DisplayLink chip, so the EZlink can install either the Mac or Windows DisplayLink drivers for you. To be safe, it good to download the latest drivers from the support site (DisplayLink.com).
Once done with the software, simply attach the monitor to the USB port on your computer and it should pop up and display a second screen for you. Then, you can adjust its position, resolution or other settings like you would with any external display.
Mounting the monitor is simply about folding the case: fold down a flap on the front side of the canvas case, that subsequently forms a small 2-inch back for the monitor to lean against. Also, there is a pair of Velcro strips on the inside of the case that you must use to hold the front of the monitor in place.
The ASUS MB169B+ uses In-Plane Switching (IPS) panel technology to provide wide viewing angles, sharp images and plenty of real estate for productivity. Again, by using a matte panel instead of a glossy panel, the screen doesn’t suffer from reflections unless you get overly close to the screen. Its 1920 x 1080 native resolution is great for consuming HD movies, and at 75Hz refresh rate, productivity is even better. For instance, you can fit an Excel 2016 document on the screen at 100 percent zoom and still be able to see all 26 columns and 42 rows on the same window.
For travelers who need the convenience of an extra display to your laptop’s scree, this one provides an excellent array of features including: sharp images, subtle portability and a premium, light-weight design. It even allows you play high frame rate content at 1080p, but manages to contain seamless pixels on PC. Similarly, you won’t have issues connecting it to a MacBook Air or any Mac OS device, and in a few minutes you’re surfing away.
The Bottom Line
If you spend a lot of time on travel and always need a lightweight secondary monitor to connect to your laptop, the ASUS MB169B+ is a great choice. It is one of the best portable USB monitors we’ve reviewed, only that this one goes ahead to offer a 1,920-by-1,080 resolution and delivers accurate colors and sharp high-definition imagery. Moreover, at a little over 2 pounds and less than an inch thick, it is easily portable and makes for an excellent travel companion. Its grayscale performance would be better, but that’s true of every portable USB monitor we’ve seen. That notwithstanding, the ASUS MB169B+ earns our Editors’ Choice nod for portable USB monitors.