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(Pocket-lint) - HP has announced the HP U160, a portable external monitor for your laptop.

The concept sounds appealing - an external display that you can hook up to your compact laptop to give you a little more viewing space - but HP emphasises that this is designed for commercial use: ie, sharing presentations, rather than as a consumer device.

It is USB powered, which will limit what you can connect it to, as you'll need a full-sized USB port, from which the monitor will not only draw the image feed but also the power, so it will drain your laptop battery.

Because the power draw can be quite heavy, the U160 comes with a double USB lead (as many higher-power USB devices do), so in some cases it will occupy two USB ports on your device. 

The display itself is a 15.6-inch backlit LED monitor, with a resolution of 1366 x 768. It's rated at 180-nit, so it isn't hugely bright, but adequate for typical indoor viewing. 

The viewing angle is listed as 90-degrees, which is rather limited. For commercial application that's probably going to be fine. It weighs 1.5kg, so it's about the same weigh as an average laptop.

The HP U160 might not have much of an impact in the consumer space, but as more of us choose a laptop as a main work device, perhaps portable external monitors will be the way of the future?

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It will be available from January 2013 at $179. 

Writing by Chris Hall.