Monday, March 19, 2012

Lenovo ThinkVision USB Monitor Review

I picked up a new toy a couple of weeks ago - a secondary monitor for my multitude of computers. The screen I picked up though a slightly different from your every day monitor. Lenovo recently released a USB monitor called the Lenovo ThinkVision:

The ThinkVision sports a 1366x768 resolution (720p for you media centric folks out there) and has a nice crisp image. The reason I opted for a USB monitor is because my favorite netbook lacks a standard video out port (plus now with my normal laptop I can have a three monitor setup!). Another thing worth mentioning is that is addition to connecting to your PC via two USB ports - the ThinkVision also draws all of it's power through USB, meaning you won't have to scramble to find an additional outlet when using this extra screen.

So far I've just been using the screen as a nice large terminal at home when using my netbook. I have several weekend trips planned for this summer and the ThinkVision is designed to be mobile. It has a built in stand:

 and it comes with a protective plastic cover that can clip over the screen when transporting the monitor.

Like a good deal of hardware the ThinkVision only comes with a driver disc that supports Windows operating systems. Thankfully the screen uses the same display driver as most USB display adapters - DisplayLink. OSX users can find a driver download here and my fellow Linux users out there should be happy to know that DisplayLink drivers have been in the mainline kernel since the 2.6.38 release (meaning they are included in most modern Linux distributions by default).

The price tag on the ThinkVision is 200 USD and you can pick one up directly from them here.

~Jeff Hoogland


  1. On a PC, would you have to have a monitor connected to your graphic card for the usb monitor to work.

    In other words, can the usb monitor be used as the main system monitor, from boot to shut down, or just as a secondary monitor.

    1. The fact that it uses a display link adapter means that this monitor is not connected at all to your primary graphics card.

      I would imagine you could use this as your only/primary monitor. I have not tried such a setup though because all of my devices are laptops (thus they have internal primary screens)

  2. Ok, kool was just wondering/hoping.

    I had a situation with a dell SX270N that was upgraded to Windows7. There is no support for the embedded graphic card on this machine in Windows7, which limits the display to 800x600 resolution. So i tried one of those Display Link USB graphic cards, but it did not work. Hence my question.

    But i just visited the Display Link website, and it is a bit more clear now, that this technology only works for additional monitors via usb, For Windows 7, the graphics card MUST have a Windows 7 driver (WDDM) driver installed.

    So i have to bite the bullet and downgrade that machine to Windows XP to get higher resolutions out of it.

    Have fun with your set up.

    1. Ahh that sucks. I know for a fact with Linux at least you can setup your xorg.conf to only use the USB display.

    2. nice trick! where can I find that config info?

    3. Hi, Jeff.
      Not really a reply, just another voice that would REALLY appreciate info on using a single USB monitor under Linux. I tried it on both Ubuntu 10.04 and Fedora 13 a bit more than a year ago and got nowhere. Could you post a working xorg.conf, maybe with a bit of explanation? Thanks much

  3. Ok, Kool good to know it works on linux.

    The SX270N belongs to my friend, and i doubt she want to deal with linux. So she gave the adapter, and wants back Windows XP.

    But i have the USB graphic adapter, i just got the idea of how i can use it to get dual monitors again.

    I have a Audio/Media machine with a Matrox P650 Display card in it. Matrox stopped developing drivers for this card since i believe Ubuntu 9.10 or 10.04.

    So i will give it a shot to get back dual monitors in Ubuntu Studio.

    Any pointers to and or for configuration wouls be helpful.


  4. would great for a Raspberry Pi if the it wasn't so pricey

    1. will add it to my xmas wish list

  5. Will any of these USB monitors work with Android?

  6. Has anyone ever successfully make the lenovo screen to work properly on RHEL6?
    Can help to post the steps to make it happen?