A secondary frame worth a look.
USB powered monitors are a relatively new breed of viewing stations, ideal for people who’re constantly on the move but aren’t satisfied with their laptop’s display. Of course, chief buyers for such displays are those people who want a secondary monitor for light workloads.
Today I’ll be looking at the AOC E2251FWU monitor that’s powered by USB, and given its price of AED 700 is good enough to be a cheap investment for a multi-monitor setup.
Specifications wise the AOC E2251FWU is one of the most impressive USB monitors on the market. In its thin bezel, measuring just 1.5cm, resides a 22-inch screen supporting a crisp 1920 x 1080 resolution. There’s a non-adjustable stand for the base, and a simple USB port on the back. While there is a 5V DC input jack, it’s not really required as the double-ended USB cable uses one port for bandwidth and the other for power.
When it comes to simplicity, there’s no monitor more basic in its uses and features than the AOC E2251FWU. This is both a blessing and a curse. There’s no power button, no additional input, no way to customize the screen, both via the aforementioned fixed stand or through software. So yes, there are no headaches or anything else to set up, but you miss out on customizations.
Once you plug in the USB cables into your desktop or laptop, all you need to do is install the DisplayLink driver and you’re good to go. The fact that it doesn’t simply plug & play (in all of our Windows 7 machines in the office) means that you have to have a monitor already, in order to install the drivers for the AOC E2251FWU and get it working.
Like I said, the 1080p resolution provides a very crisp image on the AOC E2251FWU, coupled with decent brightness of 150cd/m2, and an average color reproduction; we have a very capable monitor on our hands. The TN panel does result in heavy contrast and color degradation if the monitor isn’t facing you directly, though.
Where the limitations of the USB 2.0 bandwidth come into play are games, 1080p movies or scrolling very quickly through text-heavy websites. In all of these cases there are a lot of missed frames and skips, wherein the experience doesn’t feel smooth at all. Of course, USB 2.0 alone isn’t to blame here, the TN panel and 5ms response time also play a huge part in the limitations of the AOC E2251FWU.
Given the thin design, light weight (2.6kg), and simple operations, the AOC E2251FWU seems just about right as a secondary display. If you want to play games, or watch high-bitrate films, with no way of customizing anything, then buying a traditional monitor is the way to go.