Viewsonic: Monitors aren't just for PCs, but your phones, too

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LAS VEGAS—In August, Viewsonic executives said that we should rethink the concept of the traditional monitor, extending it into the mobile generation by building Android into it. At CES, Viewsonic tried a simpler version of the same vision: simply allowing mobile phones and tablets to connect their content to the larger display.

At CES 2014, Viewsonic introduced the VX2876iml, a 28-inch display, as well as the VX2363Sml-W, a $170 23-inch display. Both include wired MHL connections, the technology that's slowly being adopted as a display interface from a smartphone or tablet to a traditional display. (Viewsonic hasn't released a price for the VX2876iml.) 

The VX2876im also goes a bit father: It includes support for Miracast, the wireless equivalent to MHL, which allows both Windows 8.1 PCs and Android devices to project their screens onto the display.

In August, Kenneth Mau, a product marketing manager with Viewsonic, told PCWorld that the company was betting on integrating Android into the monitor itself, giving it intelligence it would otherwise lack. But Mau also said then that he viewed the monitor sitting not on a desk, but in the foyer or kitchen, providing a cheaper alternative to an all-in-one PC or tablet. 

That's not to say that Viewsonic has forgotten the traditional monitor: The $430 TD2430ml is a 24-inch display with ten-point touch capability, in keeping with the touch-friendly world of Windows 8. The related VX2775Smh will cost $600.

Cheap 4K displays, too

Manufacturers showed off 4K-resolution displays at CES 2013, but at prices that were out of reach for most offices and consumers. This year, Viewsonic executives say, things have changed.

Mau said that 4K prices have dropped by an order of magnitude. "Last year, everything was in the five-digit space: $10,000 or a little more," he said in an interview before the show. "This year, there's going to be a sub-$1000 price point for a 4K desktop display. It's going to be huge."

Viewsonic's new generation of monitors support Miracast, the technology developed by the Wi-Fi Alliance to bridge smartphones and displays. (Miracast is supported by several modern smartphones, including the Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy S4, although the latter reportedly has some difficulties. Apple's iPhone 5s uses its own implementation that's paired with Apple TV.)

With a Miracast-enabled smartphone, you can mirror or play back content from your smart devices. But without native Miracast support, monitors require a dedicated dongle, costing about $50 or so. By placing Miracast support within the display, that dongle can be eliminated.

Sure, there will be a market for passive, "dumb displays." But just as most TV makers are building in streaming services, imperiling standalone streamer makers like Roku, look for monitor makes to build in as much value as they can, too.

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