Reviewed: ASUS ZenScreen Go MB16AWP

ASUS sent their ZenScreen Go MB16AWP across for review over a month ago and I’ve had a good opportunity to use it in my day to day setup across different scenarios prior to forming an opinion.

The ZenScreen Go MB16AWP is a portable and versatile Full HD 15.6” IPS monitor that, as the name suggests, is designed to be used on the ‘Go’. The MB16AWP has a built-in 7800mAh battery for situations where DC power isn’t available and three methods of connectivity to display content (USB-C, HDMI and WiFi). The monitor is suitable for both portrait and landscape orientation and remains lightweight despite the inclusion of a battery. There is also a Kensington Lock point for security.

Two words came to mind as I used the ZenScreen Go, Convenient and Efficient. Adding the ZenScreen Go to my portable platform meant that I did more tasks using my laptop rather than deferring some tasks to my workstation with more screen real-estate.

Whilst aimed at the mobile end user, there is a compelling case for desktop users looking for a small footprint second (or third) screen as well.

Specifications

Official Product Page Link Here

Accessories include a HDMI-mini HDMI adapter, USB-C power adapter, USB-C cable, protective sleeve, manuals

The box does a great job of protecting the MB16AWP and is on the thicker side of what I had expected – which is a good thing. The internal items are well padded and separated so you could consider this ‘courier-friendly’ ?.

ASUS offers a 3-year perfect pixel warranty that protects owners from having a screen with a dead pixel within the warranty period. As always, check the relevant terms in your region.

Testing

Testing Note:

I used the ZenScreen Go via USB-C input and WiFi display on the following devices:

  1. Laptop (Infinity Gaming W5-10R7-888 with RTX 2070)
  2. ASUS Maximus XII Extreme test bench with ASUS RTX 2080Ti OC and then Radeon RX 6800 XT
  3. Microsoft Surface GO Tablet with integrated graphics

I did not encounter any issues at all on the above devices.

Clarity

The IPS panel is ideal for colour reproduction and viewing angles which is a great choice by the design team over a cheaper TN alternative that wouldn’t deliver the same viewing experience. The 15.6” panel delivers a clear image at 1920×1080. The pixel density at this resolution and screen size is a good match for viewing comfort and sharpness. The individual pixels are not easily identifiable at a normal viewing distance.

The typical brightness is rated at 250cd/m2 which was more than adequate in my usage. I backed it off a little for comfort to about 80-90% but this will vary depending on what you look at and the ambient lighting.

The ASUS blue light filter function is useful for long days at the office or when working late as it does take the edge off a harsh predominantly white screen when reading text.

The maximum refresh rate is the standard 60Hz.

Screen reflection coating

ASUS nailed this one. I tested in both an extremely well-lit and a typical home study/bedroom-type space. The reflection performance was solid and I didn’t have any issues viewing content in typical practical settings.

Most of the article photos were taken in a workshop/lab where it’s unusually bright with 8 double fluorescent lights including one directly over the bench. This accurately replicates an open plan office environment. It’s not necessarily ideal for typical use but it’s a better environment for photos. Reflective properties were the same as the Infinity Laptop screen when using both products side by side.

Viewing angles

ASUS advertise the viewing angle as 178-degrees and whilst the image is technically viewable within that range, it isn’t practical. I didn’t have any issues in general use or when using the screen to share content. Colour shift seemed very minor to my eye once past about 130-degrees and I doubt I would have noticed it if I wasn’t specifically looking for it. The reality is that the MB16AWP has a suitable viewing arc for anyone reading the screen from an angle where the content is comfortably viewable and legible.

Connectivity

The ZenScreen Go offers 3 different connectivity modes: USB-C, micro-HDMI and Wireless display. I used the display via USB-C for most of my testing and the experience was great. There is a HDMI adapter included to take a standard HDMI cable and ‘downsize’ it to micro-HDMI.

Menu Buttons

The directional hat with press-for-enter function is very intuitive and made navigating the menu about as easy as it gets.

Stand

The built in kick-stand is effective and allows for both landscape and portrait orientation. There is nothing wrong with it other than the lack of height adjustment – which can’t be avoided in a product like this. Height adjustment and precise angle positioning have been considered in the design with a rear mounting socket for a tripod.

I used a small ultra-portable tripod intended for a smartphone or camera and it positioned the ZenScreen Go at a perfect height for use with my laptop.

WiFi Mode

The MB16AWP supports WiFi Displays through windows, MiraCast and AirPlay.

Setup

The device connects to the local network or your hotspot to get a LAN IP address that your PC/device will use as a Wireless Display. You don’t need a special application for the setup process, just a web browser as the screen provides instructions of what IP address to use.

Connecting to wireless displays

Whilst the Wireless connectivity works and is great for presentation work, the performance will depend on signal strength, and I found this connection mode unsuitable for media playback. Wireless mode was fine for message applications, standard office applications and presentations.

Battery Life

ASUS designed the MB16AWP with a 7800mAh built-in battery that still allows the device to be thin and light. As a realist, I wasn’t expecting it to last all day but I was hoping for at least 3.5 hours with brightness at a comfortable level (40-50%)

The subjective term of ‘Battery Life’ is hard to judge so I’ll use a typical scenario as a guide.

There are many factors that will impact battery life. The main elements include, but are not limited to:

  • Screen Brightness
  • Wireless Mode and signal strength
  • Speaker usage and volume level

I used the MB16AWP via USB-C input at 50% brightness mirroring my laptop screen without a screen saver and muted without using the speakers at all. The background was predominantly white to represent reading or typing.

The MB16AWP battery ran for 4 hours and 12 minutes in the above conditions which I consider a good result.

Audio

The 2x1W speakers are ‘OK’ and what I’d expect from a pair of 1W laptop speakers. I’d consider them adequate for basic audio like speech/instructions and audio feedback like error dings or cues, but they don’t compare to even the 2W speakers that I see in laptops and some monitors.

The focus of the MB16AWP should be the visual experience and screen sharing over a great audio experience. I’d rather have a functional pair of 1W speakers than none. In my use-cases, I can’t see myself ever using the audio features of this product anyway.

Practical Applications

The ZenScreen Go is a handy device that extends the effectiveness of a mobile computing device such as a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. It can also provide a workstation setup with an additional screen with little desktop space required.

‘Hot-desking’

In a mobile environment, having a second screen can make a significant productivity difference. I used the main screen for the primary document/spreadsheet and the ZenScreen Go for the reference material. Video conferences were also better with dual screens as I could have the Zoom or Teams session open on one and my working documents, note-taking app or presentation open on the other.

‘Sharing is caring’

Post COVID lockdowns, customer site visits are now back on the agenda. The ZenScreen Go means that meetings where a large screen is not available for presenting can be more comfortable thanks to screen mirroring. A portable screen like the ZenScreen Go allows you to face the other participants, have a socially distanced conversation and share content – without needing to crowd around a laptop monitor.

Entertainment

There are times when I’m working on something after hours and have something streaming on Netflix of YouTube. The ZenScreen Go is perfect for this scenario as well. I used this feature (via USB-C connectivity) for both mobile and workstation environments as the 15.6” screen is an ideal size for ‘watching’ while you work.

Workstation Environment

Having a smaller second (or third) screen on the desktop has its advantages. Whilst I don’t stream, I can see how the ZenScreen Go could be handy in that situation in either landscape or portrait mode to display the chat and other controls.

It is also very handy for benchmarking and testing where the system stats need to be available in real-time without switching away from the application or game.

Productivity work is the big one. An additional screen for messages, email, reference material or video chat makes a stark difference when compared to a single monitor. Having that information available without having to sacrifice the visibility of another application can make some tasks much more efficient. Video conferences can also be enjoyable if you have another screen with the agenda, previous minutes and/or other relevant details readily available.

Educational/Training activities are also easier with the ZenScreen Go when you have a video tutorial or e-learning presentation running on one screen and you follow along on your main monitor. Typically, training videos or instructional text does not need to be on a screen any larger than the 15.6” ZenScreen Go which I found ideal.

Portrait Mode

As a PC user, the portrait mode slipped under the radar a little but for those sharing content from a mobile phone, this is a better orientation to use when screen mirroring. For anyone looking to promote a product that has an associated mobile app, the MB16AWP will allow for wireless screen mirroring on a larger 15.6” display.

Final thoughts

Priced at $750 the ASUS ZenScreen Go isn’t cheap, in fact it does seem expensive for a ‘second monitor’. There are some key elements that solve issues we see with typical portable monitors such as the IPS screen (superior colour accuracy and viewing angle), a battery (true portability), and WiFi connectivity (screen sharing across multiple platforms and devices). All of these benefits come at a price premium when compared to a cheaper TN panel without a battery or WiFi. For those who have these niche requirements, the MB16AWP is likely to be worth the investment.

In a solo but mobile application, I experienced a notable efficiency improvement when using dual 1080p screens in a laptop environment. The reduction in alt-tabbing between applications to check source material for names or numbers is great. Referencing a procedure or instructional reference material on a secondary screen also makes other tasks faster due to being able to remain ‘on task’.

When working in the company of others, being able to share content without crowding around a single screen is more conducive to discussion and it also makes reading body language easier for all involved.

The desktop experience shouldn’t be underrated. Whilst I wouldn’t recommend buying the ZenScreen Go as a secondary desktop monitor – there are so many cheaper 1080p options out there – it does add value to a desktop configuration. I use a 32” 4K display and it was nice to have a few applications running on the ZenScreen Go off to the side whilst I was gaming or working on my primary display. Example apps that I would have running were Spotify, email, Slack or Discord, and OneNote. The small footprint of the ZenScreen Go meant that I wasn’t sacrificing much desktop real-estate.

The ZenScreen Go has WiFi, USB-C and HDMI connectivity and a battery that makes it extremely versatile. The price seems more justifiable if the need extends to more than one device and the MB16AWP can contribute both in the office and on the ‘Go’.

Highly Recommended

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