If you don't have £1,700 spare for a new Retina Display MacBook Pro then don't despair, there are simpler and cheaper ways of attaining even greater desktop real estate. Multi-monitor setups are on the rise, prices are falling and setup is minimal. Can AOC make waves in this burgeoning market?
The 'E2251FWU' is AOC's weapon of choice and it is a potentially powerful one. Unlike most of the competition, such as Lenovo's ThinkVision LT1421, the E2251FWU is a desktop size 22in display with Full HD resolution. Moreover, like its typically smaller rivals, the E2251FWU is still powered solely by USB and it consumes only eight watts during standard operation.
The picture is positive on paper and in reality the E2251FWU also makes a good first impression. The design is clean with relatively slim bezels on three sides, it is thin and there are two standing positions: 1. in a picture frame manner supported by an arm on the back and resting on its thicker bottom bezel, and 2. adding the optional stand to the rear arm to lift it to the same height as a standard desktop monitor. It is also fairly light at 2.45Kg (2.6Kg including the stand) and while the bezel is made of low grade plastic, there are no creaks and squeezes in the construction.
We do have complaints about the design though. In either standing position the E2251FWU cannot be adjusted. This is understandable without its base, but even when it is added there is no tilt, pivot or height adjustment and we found its position tilted too far forward for our liking. This won't be an issue for laptop users who will use it flat, but for those hoping to line up the E2251FWU at the same height as their existing monitor it is frustrating - especially since it also does not support a portrait mode.
On the plus side setup is a breeze. AOC uses DisplayLink's well established technology which means the monitor simply plugs into a PC or laptop, configures without the need for additional drivers and is ready to use. Being a 22in monitor the snag is it requires power from two USB ports. This isn't a problem on a desktop, but if you have an ultraportable laptop it may mean sacrificing other regularly connected devices.
Still the reason this sacrifice may prove worthwhile is the E2251FWU has a Full HD 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution with LED backlighting, a decent 800:1 contrast ratio and 5ms response time which should make it suitable for most tasks. Given the E2251FWU's lean power requirements it shouldn't come as a surprise that it is Energy Star 5.0 compliant and earns an EPEAT silver rating.