ASUS ZenScreen MB16AC Portable Monitor Review – It’s Useful But…
A portable monitor aimed at boosting productivity across various areas, the ASUS ZenScreen MB16AC is easy to use and to bring around. Is it worth getting? Let's find out.
+ Light and easy to bring around
+ Easy to setup and use
+ OSD has plenty of customization options
+ Protective case lets its stand in a variety of ways
+ Good viewing angles
+ Can expand smartphone's productivity potential
- Screen glare can make it troublesome to use
- Not as versatile as the ZenScreen Touch MB16AMT
- Colours are decent at best
- No built-in battery
- Only has USB-C port
- Not exactly user-friendly when used with smartphone
- Too pricey for what it offers
For our review unit of the ASUS ZenScreen MB16AC portable monitor, we only received the monitor itself. We won’t be doing an unboxing as there’s nothing to unbox for this review.
The ASUS ZenScreen MB16AC portable monitor looks nearly identical to the ZenScreen Touch MB16AMT. It also looks like a rather large tablet, with the back resembling the older ZenPad tablets with the ASUS logo at the center and a hole on the corner for the ASUS Pen that looks kinda like a camera.
At the front, you have a 15.6-inch Full HD IPS touchscreen display with thin bezels, a power button, and two navigation button. The ASUS logo can be seen in between the power and navigation buttons. There’s also “ZenScreen” written on the top-left bezel.
On the left side, you a USB-C port which sits in solitude. Unlike the touchscreen variant, this one has nothing on the right side apart from the “Designed by ASUS in Taiwan” writing. There’s nothing on the top and bottom of the portable monitor.
The protective case is an integral part of the ASUS ZenScreen MB16AC portable monitor. It’s a magnetic case so you just snap it on and it will stick to the monitor without worries of it falling off. The protective case allows it to stand at three different angles, with one of them being completely flat.
Overall, the ASUS ZenScreen MB16AC portable monitor has a simple design that is oddly reminiscent of the ZenPad tablets. It has a nice, clean look with slim bezels which I’m sure many will like. This is slightly shorter and thinner than the touchscreen variant but when you put it side by side, it looks essentially identical with the exception of the navigation buttons.
|Panel Size||Wide Screen 15.6″, 16:9|
|True Resolution||1920 X 1080|
|Display Viewing Area (HxV)||344.16 x 193.59 mm|
|Pixel Pitch||0.179 mm|
|Viewing Angle (CR≧10)||178°(H) / 178°(V)|
|Response Time||5 ms (GTG)|
|Display Colours||17 million colours (8-bit)|
|Refresh Rate||60 Hz|
|Low Blue Light||Yes|
|Viewing Modes||sRGB, Scenery, Theater, Standard, Night View, Game, Reading, Darkroom|
|Adaptive Refresh Rate||No|
|Signal Input||Hybrid Signal USB Type-C|
|Mechanical Design||Chassis Colours : Dark gray|
Slim Design : Yes
Super Narrow Bezel Design : Yes
|Dimensions||359.7 x 226.4 x 8.0 mm, 0.78 kg|
Like with our other monitor reviews, we put it to the test with DisplayCAL using Spyder5 to see how well it performs. Let’s dive right into the benchmark prior to calibration.
|Measured whitepoint||7.56||Not OK|
|Measured display profile whitepoint||3.22|
|Average ΔE*00||2.8||Not OK|
|Maximum ΔE*00||6.11||Not OK|
At 100% brightness, the measurement test results are kinda bad. To get the best possible scores, it’s recommended to get a score less than 1 for whitepoints and the average ΔE00. As for the maximum ΔE00, it’s best to score less than 3.
|Measured display profile whitepoint||0.33|
Once it has been calibrated, the scores have gotten significantly better. We’ve tried this on several computers including laptops and my own personal desktop, and this is the best result we got.
As for the colour gamut, the ASUS ZenScreen MB16AC managed to cover 63.6% sRGB, 45% for Adobe RGB, and 45.9% DCI-P3 after calibration. For Gamut volume on the other hand, it covers 65.3% sRGB, 45% Adobe RGB and 46.3% DCI-P3.
The scores aren’t great, so colour-accurate work wouldn’t be the best on this portable monitor. It scored better than the ZenScreen Touch MB16AMT, but the difference isn’t worlds apart.
We ran the display uniformity test to see if each part of the display are equally lit up, with the centre square used as a guide and compared to the others. For the most part, the ASUS ZenScreen MB16AC and it achieved nominal scores, with two at the top achieving recommended tolerance. To me, there’s no noticeable difference in all 9 parts.
The ASUS ZenScreen MB16AC doesn’t have a built-in battery and relies on the USB-C port for power. It’s pretty easy to use, and it uses 8W of power at most. Keep in mind that there are no other ports on this portable monitor.
Like the touchscreen variant, the ASUS ZenScreen MB16AC portable monitor is easy to use. The port features hybrid signal compatibility, meaning that it only needs a single USB connector to power it and transmit display. This model only has a USB-C port, and works a plug and play device.
You can also use the included USB-C to USB-A adapter, but you will need to download the driver from the official website for it to display visuals, which makes it a bit of a hassle. As it only has a USB-C port, it isn’t as versatile as its touchscreen variant, which comes with a Micro HDMI port.
With the protective case, you can have the ASUS ZenScreen MB16AC portable monitor stand in a variety of ways given how strong the magnet is:
- Landscape orientation with two tilt adjustments
- Landscape orientation for higher viewing angle
- A folded portrait orientation
When you’ve gotten the ASUS ZenScreen MB16AC portable monitor up and running, you should start with the OSD settings. You have a variety of colour modes suitable for different situations that you can choose from. You can also adjust specific settings such as auto rotation, Blue Light filter, and more.
There are plenty of options that can be found in the OSD for you to tweak. Giving users the power to customize a variety of things is a major plus. Unlike the touchscreen variant which uses a joystick / button hybrid, this one has two navigation buttons for you to use.
Alternatively, you can use the ASUS DisplayWidget software on Windows to adjust the settings.
For ease of use, the joystick navigation is the better choice but for a more consistent experience, the buttons are the way to go. Furthermore, this feels like they can last for a long time compared to the joystick on the ZenScreen Touch MB16AMT, which felt flimsy.
As for the display itself, the viewing angles are great, especially given that it’s an IPS panel. Colours aren’t the best but it’s definitely more than usable unless you need to do colour-accurate work. It’s also not great for serious gaming given the 60Hz refresh rate and lack of adaptive sync support.
There is a Game Mode available but it can only optimize so much. Another issue that it has is glare. It’s very noticeable when you compare it with the touchscreen variant. It’s very easy to see reflections if the brightness isn’t high enough. It definitely works great if all you need is a secondary display, or just a bigger display to bring with you.
I have used the ASUS ZenScreen MB16AC with a number of Windows PCs. This includes the Acer Predator Triton 500, the Commandos Carbine 14 Plus, and my own personal desktop (ASRock Fatal1ty AB350 Gaming-ITX/ac). It’s so easy to get it up and running as it’s just plug and play. It didn’t give any issues like sudden disconnections, low resolutions, or odd colours.
You can also extend your smartphone display using the ASUS ZenScreen MB16AC portable monitor. If your smartphone supports desktop mode, which my HUAWEI Mate 20 X does, then you’ll be able to enjoy a PC-like experience with all your apps but on a larger screen.
It isn’t as user-friendly as the ZenScreen Touch MB16AMT however. This is due to the lack of touchscreen functionality, so you have to rely on your smartphone to act as a mouse. You can still have a portable productivity setup with this, but you definitely need a Bluetooth keyboard for your own sanity. Other than that, it works fine without any issues.
As it solely uses the USB-C port for devices to transmit the display to it, I can’t get it to work with videogame consoles. Specifically, it’s the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch as both require HDMI to output display. Furthermore, both consoles lack the ability to transmit display via USB-C as it doesn’t have the necessary drivers / protocols for it.
ASUS ZenScreen MB16AC Verdict
The ASUS ZenScreen MB16AC works fine as a secondary monitor that you can bring around. It isn’t as versatile as the ZenScreen Touch MB16AMT due to the lack of a Micro HDMI port. The colours aren’t great and the glare can make it troublesome to use.
That isn’t to say that it’s a bad portable monitor however. It solely depends on what you want. If you simply need a portable monitor to expand your device’s display or function as a secondary display, it will do that just fine. For the price however, at RM1,169, you’re better off spending extra and getting the ZenScreen Touch MB16AMT instead.
With that, I award the ASUS ZenScreen MB16AC with our Bronze Pokdeward.