One of the hidden (well not quite hidden) gems at Toshiba's 2012 product showcase was a 15.6in LCD monitor. Now, it's been a while since I've been excited about a 15.6in LCD screen - not since the about 1996, when I first started reviewing LCD screens, in fact. But this particular monitor is a little different, and warrants at least a little excitement.
Toshiba's new 15.6in LCD monitor stands out from the crowd because it incorporates a USB interface, not just for the transmission of video, but also for power. Simply plug this monitor into a USB 3.0 port on your laptop and it will draw enough power across the USB bus to operate, with no need for an external power supply of any kind.
Unsurprisingly, this new screen uses DisplayLink technology, but thankfully Toshiba hasn't done anything proprietary with it and I was assured that simply downloading the standard DisplayLink driver will have it up and running in no time.
The stand for the monitor is reminiscent of the iPad 2 Smart Cover, in that it folds into an angular support for the screen. And just like the Smart Cover, this foldable stand doubles as a screen protector - in fact the cover folds around and completely protects the screen so that it's easily transportable.
Therein lies the target market for this screen. If you're the type of person that loves working with a dual-monitor setup, and misses that setup terribly when you're out on the road, this is the ideal screen for you. Whether you're camping down in a coffee shop for a few hours, or sitting down to work in your hotel room, this flexible, mobile second screen will be an ideal companion.
Screen resolution is 1,366 x 768, which is about what you'll get from the majority of 15.6in laptops these days, however it would be good to see a slightly higher resolution version. Measuring in at 380 x 250 x 16mm (WxHxD) it's about the same size as a 15in notebook, but weighs slightly less at 1.6kg.
Despite the relatively conservative 16ms response time, it appears that the monitor employs a 6-bit colour palette for a maximum 256,000 colours. The contrast ratio is also limited to 300:1. All that said, considering that this screen is offering a multi-monitor solution on the move, I'd be willing to forgive a few compromises.
Although the screen can draw all the power it needs from its host's USB 3.0 port, there is still the option to plug in an AC adapter. Using a power supply will make the display marginally brighter, but the brightness using USB power seemed more than adequate.
There was no pricing available for the screen, but Toshiba stated that it should be hitting the market very soon. Rest assured we'll be getting one in the ITProPortal office as soon as possible.