Review: Mobile Monitor Technologies’ Monitor2Go–The more you can see, the more you can

Posted by Jon Peddie on September 26th 2012 | Discuss
Categories: Hardware Review,
Tags: ces monitors productivity

The world is a better place. Monitor prices and weight have gone down, while size and resolution have gone up. Ultrabooks have brought us lightweight and HD screens, as well as lightweight power supplies. Life is ­better.

One year ago, in fact, as late as four months ago, I, and other road warriors like me, carried a 15-inch (or a 13-inch) 6- to 8-pound laptop with a one-and-a-half- to two-and-a-half-pound power supply. The screen might be HD, but more often than not it was a squinty 1366 x 768—oy.

DisplayLink has come along to answer the traveler’s prayers, at least they’re answering this traveler’s prayers. DisplayLink’s Mobile Monitor Technologies (MMT) were put to work in their Monitor2Go product, a 15.6-inch, 1600 x 900, portable monitor. It’s just 3.56 pounds with a power supply, a thin 1.09 inches, and at a not-so-expensive $300. Before the arrival of this monitor, we (I) had been trying to use a hotel room HDTV as a second monitor and annoying the heck out of other people in the room (her). 

The brushed aluminum MMT M2G has a clever swing and rotate center hinge that lets you set it up like a clamshell laptop, or flip it over like a tablet, or stand it up like a picture frame. The base has a cutout in it, and a snap-in plastic box, which is the only failing of the design. The box is pulled out to allow a tablet (and as far as MMT seems concerned, that means an iPad) to be dropped in.

The plastic box would seem an ideal tablet holder if turned upside down, but due to the curved edges, it will only fit in one way—flat (back?) surface up (facing, and protecting the screen). There is also a pull-down (or -out) arm that can be used to support the monitor when it is used as a second display or a digital picture frame. It’s easy to see a lot of design thought went into this device.

A small wall-plug power supply powers the screen, and a mini-to-standard USB cable is the connect to the PC for the DisplayLink signals. Inside the monitor is the DisplayLink decoder chip. A small blue (could easily be missed if you didn’t read the instructions) power switch is located between the power connector and the mini USB. On the other end of the monitor are two expansion USB slots—all USB2. There is also an HDMI connector.

The native screen resolution on the M2G is 1600 x 900, but when it is connected via the HDMI connector, it scales flawlessly and beautifully to 1920 x 1080—in either orientation—really impressive. The monitor has a 400:1 contrast ratio and delivers 220 Nits (candela per square meter—cd/m2), and it has an 8 ms response time.

Putting it in Portrait mode, I get 1920 lines and can see an entire web page without scrolling. The viewing angles are 65 degrees horizontal and 55 degrees vertical.

And when working on one of our ridiculously massive spreadsheets, which used to be a real chore when on the road, I can now spread it out across 3840 pixels by 1080—which is actually more than my 30-inch center screen at the office, and almost a 27-inch (diagonal) display. Working on the road will never be the same.

The screen does have a bluish tint to it, meaning it’s probably running around 9300 K while the Ultrabook is probably at about 5700 K. That’s not a complaint, just an observation. If you were working in an incandescent lighting environment, you might actually prefer a bluish-tinted bias.

We ran the monitor from the HDMI connection and from the DisplayLink USB conncection and were able to get it to display 1920 x 1080 with both inputs, which you can add to the list of capa­bilities that really impressed us. 

Monitor2Go is available now in two models: HD+ with 1600 x 900 resolution at $329, and HD with 1366 x768 resolution for $299. To order: www.mmt2.com. MacConnect is listing the 1366 model for $229.

So an Ultrabook like the Asus Zenbook UX31E with power supply is 3.6 pounds or 1.6 kg, and the Monitor2Go weighs 3.6 pounds, which means my kit is 7.2 pounds, 3.2 kg. I haven’t lost any weight in my briefcase, but I’ve gained over 2X the screen resolution and display space. That’s a pretty damn good trade-off in my opinion.

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