Joining the growing market for portable external displays, Acer has started selling its first USB-C based external display for laptops. The no-frills Acer PM1 is aimed at the entry level segment of the market, designed as a workhorse monitor for users who need additional screen space when working outside of home or office. The device promises to be one of the most affordable portable USB-C LCDs on the market, but it has some peculiarities that not everyone might like.

The Acer PM1 portable display (model PM161Q) is built upon a 15.6-inch 6-bit IPS panel with a 1920×1080 resolution, offering a maximum brightness of 250 nits brightness, a 800:1 contrast ratio, a 15 ms GtG response time, a 60 Hz refresh rate, and an anti-glare coating. Since we are talking about an IPS panel, expect wide – 178º/178º – horizontal and vertical viewing angles. Though the use of a 6-bit panel means that the display offers a somewhat limited degree of color granularity, as it can only display 262-thousand colors.

The key selling point of the Acer PM1 is its USB 3.1 Type-C connector, which allows for a single-cable setup carrying both for data and power. This makes it easy to use with modern notebooks, some of which only have USB-C ports. Meanwhile the monitor also offers a secondary micro-USB power for supplying power to a monitor when hooked up to a smartphone or other low-power device that can't drive the monitor on its own.

The PM1 external monitor for laptops comes in a rather bulky chassis made of plastic, which is certainly tough, but at 2 cm (0.8 inches) thick, is not especially small. The monitor weighs 952 grams (2.1 pounds), which is comparable to a weight of Acer’s own lightweight 15.6-inch laptops (with USB-C ports), yet good enough for check-in luggage. Looking at the bright side, the LCD has a built-in stand that can regulate its tilt in a range between 15°and 35° and also has hardware buttons to adjust its settings.

Apart from simplicity of a USB-C connection, the biggest advantage of Acer’s PM1 display for laptops is its price. The portable monitor is now available directly from Acer for $179.99, or from Micro Center for $129.99.

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Source: Acer

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  • Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer - Monday, February 3, 2020 - link

    A couple of months ago I was disappointed to discover that a similar product I'd seen an advertisement for was a scam, and that actual real portable monitors you could purchase seem to be shoddy, fragile, and unreliable.

    If this reviews well I'll seriously consider buying one. I don't care if it's the size and weight of a second laptop as long as the extra heft adds durability, and the color depth doesn't matter that much unless it makes 16-bit RDP sessions hideous or unusable for some reason.
  • dontlistentome - Monday, February 3, 2020 - link

    The Asus Zen screen is all metal, seems pretty sturdy (we have one on a floating allocation at work and it's still in one piece).
  • Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer - Monday, February 3, 2020 - link

    For the prices they're charging, some of the reviews are pretty sketchy. It's also a lot to pay out of my own pocket for something that I'd mostly be buying to make working away from the office a little more practical, which is something I do only rarely (a second monitor could change that, though).

    It would also be nice to have something that I could use as a second monitor for the living room computer that I could hide away when it's not needed, though. So I'll be watching the reviews on this Acer.
  • jake winger - Tuesday, February 4, 2020 - link

    Acer is way late to the party. Asus's portal is overpriced and bulky. Google for a product called G-Story LCD. They have several models. 15" FHD for about 150 USD, with touchscreen at 200USD and they also have 2K and 4K models for a bit more.
    You may also find the FHD models in Nintendo stores paired up with a Switch console.
    The quality was good enough for me that I bought two. one driven by hdmi out and the other by usb-c.
  • jake winger - Tuesday, February 4, 2020 - link

  • mjz_5 - Monday, February 3, 2020 - link

    Why not just use an iPad as a second monitor.
  • dontlistentome - Monday, February 3, 2020 - link

    Twice the price, half the size and no direct conection
  • lazarpandar - Monday, February 3, 2020 - link

    I actually can't think of any scenario in which that would be better unless you already own an iPad and do not own this.
  • xype - Tuesday, February 4, 2020 - link

    @lazarpandar: Depends on the use case. Tablets can have better screens, multitouch and even pen support, plus you can use them on their own. They come in smaller sizes, true, but most of the time you can have them closer than your laptop’s screen is. The performance/lag with a laptop is something that I can live with easily, the 250 nits of brightness that the acer has less so.
  • 69369369 - Monday, February 3, 2020 - link

    Not plug and play with Windows and Linux (app required), very poor performance compared to a 'normal' monitor (frequent frame drops, input lag, compression artifacts).

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