For many people purchasing an iPhone that costs the bulk of their salary that month, or, saving up for a gaming laptop is common practice. What was a niche a few years ago is now more mainstream, and brands are doubling down on products that carry a premium price.
Asus, of course, has played more in the affluent end of the market with its ROG brand. I like how Asus is taking risks with designs or at least creating a new segment that may not be mainstream yet but has the cool factor to it. Its ROG Strix XG16AHP-W (the name sounds so uncool…uh) belongs to a genre of experimental devices that command a high price for something you really don’t know you want.
It’s a portable monitor with more power and features you need…and a steep price that puts this device in a luxury category. But this portable monitor is a different beast, for many reasons.
Here is my review of Asus’ top-end portable monitor.
Why I wanted a portable monitor
I am a bit choosy about the devices I use and the workspace environment. During the pandemic, I realised that the boundary between personal and professional space has collapsed, for good reason. Given I still work from home, I wanted a well-thought-about workplace that is less taxing on my health but at the same time more productive. That’s where I feel external portable monitors naturally fit in your workplace, offering you extra screen space. They are usually underrated, despite being plug-and-play via USB-C and run-on batteries, the convenience they offer and how easily fit in your work area. It’s a personal choice to use a portable monitor but in my case, it simply works.
A refreshing design with Sci-fi elements
Asus is lately killing it when it comes to experimenting with its products, especially ROG-branded gaming laptops and smartphones. It can clearly be seen on the ROG Strix XG16AHP-W (XG16 for short) too. To start, the XG16 is made up of an all-white chassis, which is refreshing to look at. It has a crisp, clean look that very few portable monitors offer. The ‘gamer’ aesthetic is there but it’s not over-the-top, meaning the monitor can be used anywhere– even in the office environment. I don’t mind taking this monitor to a cafe or a co-working space. The build quality feels solid. And I am not complaining one bit.
The monitor weighs around 900 grams and is 11.8mm thick. Because it’s lightweight, I would want to put it in a backpack or the bundled sleeve and carry it around. The high-quality sleeve comes complete with padding, front and back pockets, and a carrying strap.
It has an integrated kickstand that holds the device sturdy, and on a desk or a table, the angle is satisfactory. I can open the kickstand with confidence, and use the monitor in both portrait and landscape orientation. But what is different about the XG16 is the bundled tripod that turns it into a mini 15.6-inch monitor. The tripod offers height adjustment and can swivel 360 degrees on its axis. I found this setup professional-looking, something no other portable monitor currently offers. Also, the tripod is foldable and can then pack in the sleeve.
On the lower left-hand edge of the monitor are two USB-C ports (one for powering your laptop, the other for DisplayPort over USB), a micro HDMI port—the device comes with a micro HDMI to HDMI cable as well as one with USB-C connectors on both ends—and a headphone jack.
Moving on to its display, its 15.6-inch IPS screen has fairly narrow bezels with a backlit Asus ROG logo at the back. It’s not an OLED or mini-LED type, but the standard 1080p IPS display is one of the best I’ve ever used on a portable monitor. It represents colours beautifully and everything feels sharp and snappy thanks to a high pixel density and 144Hz refresh rate. The high-refresh-rate screen elevates the experience, whether you are gaming or watching a movie. When I connected my Nintendo Switch to the monitor to play Metroid Dread and Kirby and the Forgotten Land, I saw stunning visuals and the colour depth was amazing.
The 144Hz refresh rate, 3 ms GtG response time, and Nvidia G-Sync compatibility (you need to have a PC with an Nvidia GPU) may seem like overkill, but they are there. The XG16 is a delight to use if you own a Nintendo Switch. I think the XG16 can be the ultimate Switch travel accessory; a portable monitor light enough to be carried in your backpack, but one which offers a crisp 1080p image and does not need to be plugged in for power. This ROG-branded monitor is perfect for Switch owners, but if you plan to buy a screen for both productivity and leisure, it’s a terrific option. The monitor is also factory calibrated and comes with a colour calibration coverage (97.1% sRGB colour space).
On the downside, I didn’t like the built-in speakers. They are tiny and soft and barely offer a detailed soundscape across games and movies. The monitor’s on-screen display (OSD) is similar to the ones I’ve seen on Asus monitors. The settings also include gaming features like OverDrive, ShadowBoost and an FPS counter. You will also find specific display profiles for different game genres, like RTS and RPG.
The XG16 can run without being plugged in for power and that’s the whole point of getting a portable monitor. While Asus claims the 7800 mAh battery lasts for up to three hours, I used the monitor at max brightness and it lasted for 2 hours and 30 minutes before I plugged the charger in. Impressive.
The ROG Strix XG16AHP-W is a high-end portable monitor that caters to a niche segment. It has a specific audience who might want to pay Rs 48,999 for a portable monitor. For the gamers out there, the high refresh rate of 144 Hz is probably one of the selling points as well as the design and accessories it comes with like a tripod and a case. But the reason I am excited about it is that it represents a change in how we are thinking about portable monitors and what they can really do to improve productivity and multitasking.