With the new 16-inch Full HD portable monitor AOC e1659F set to release on September 15, it’s time to look at the business of connecting a portable monitor to a tablet. Connecting a portable monitor to a tablet isn’t always as straight forward as connecting a secondary monitor to a desktop or laptop. But sometimes it could be useful to add another display on the go now that we are seeing increasingly powerful and mobile 2-in-1 tablets that are taking over the space that have up until now been harbored by laptops.
So first of all we are talking about portable monitors here, and not stationary monitors with the own power supply.
Portable monitors typically range from around $89 to $199, with most of them being in the 15-inch size category, simply in order to mirror the typical display size of a laptop. Some of them come with their own power supply, while others draw all their power through the connecting cable.
So, what are the factors to consider if you think about getting a portable monitor for a tablet or laptop?
1. Does the OS version of your tablet support an additional monitor, and how? Does it merely mirror/duplicate or can it expand your display area? Nowadays, when a lot of people are installing heavily customized operating systems, that definitely needs to be looked into first.
2. The same compatibility issue applies in reverse order with the monitor. Will the monitor support your tablet and OS?
3. Does the tablet and portable monitor have matching ports? Since the newest portable monitors connects via USB 3.0 (though some also use HDMI), this should not be a problem other than having the appropriate cable. And in the case where the necessary port is not available on the tablet, a converter might do the trick, since there are all kinds of converter cables on the market today. If you use a converter cable, you may potentially face another issue again, which is the compatibility of the driver for the converter.
4. A related issue to all of this is the question of power supply. Some portable monitors draw all the power needed from the USB connection, while others have a dual headed USB plug where one plug goes into the tablet and the other into a power source. The question is if your tablet can deliver the necessary power to drive the monitor by itself.
5. Another kind of power is in transfer speed, or bandwidth from the tablet to the monitor. USB 3.0 means that both the response time will improve over a slower USB 2.0 as well as having higher bandwidth than USB 2.0, a feature that may even be necessary for certain tasks.
6. Graphics power issue. If you have a low-end 7-inch budget tablet you could experience problems with your CPU and GPU if you try to connect a portable monitor, since the tablet then just doesn’t have the excess capacity needed to drive an additional monitor successfully.
7. One thing you usually lose is the the touchscreen support on the additional portable monitor. But if you add a USB hub or Bluetooth mouse, you can control the functions on the screen once again.
8. The last things to consider are screen size, resolution, and screen ratio, and how all of this would fit with the tablet or your intended use.
It’s a long list, but I guess the reason is simply that given the rarity of connecting a portable monitor to a tablet, the manufacturers haven’t seen the need to simplify the process. Usually when a tablet is connected to an external monitor, it happens via a tablet dock or it connects directly to a stationary monitor, all of which is (usually) a simpler process, though Asus have expressed some interest in looking into the compatibility issues in the wake of the new uses they expect to see with the Windows 10 release next week.
And if you are looking for the reverse use – of using your tablet as a monitor, there are simply apps that can enable that across most operating systems too, like connecting an iPad or Android tablet to a Windows computer.
– Jim Miller