I work with industrial PCs built into large pieces of machinery. Most of our deployment process happens over the network, but the first steps need physical monitor/keyboard access to set some BIOS options, enable PXE boot, etc. I do this on the shop floor, standing next to or sometimes actually inside the machinery.

Currently the hardware I use is no more sophisticated than a cast-off office monitor and USB keyboard. The monitor in particular is unwieldy, at risk of damage, and far larger than it needs to be. Balancing a desk stand on top of a hydraulic actuator and securing the screen in place with scrap cable is hardly professional...

Is anybody here aware of a device that provides a small HDMI monitor and a USB keyboard and ideally pointing device, in a compact, portable, and possibly somewhat rugged form factor? I'm picturing something like a 10" or 12" laptop but with no brains of its own, just an HDMI input and USB B connector. In fact, having a range of video inputs would probably be valuable, though the kit I'm working with right now is HDMI. A battery would be useful too, though not essential.

Of course similar things exist in 19" rack form for use in a datacentre, but my datacentre is a factory floor...

  • I use a Startech USB crash cart adapter with my laptop. Bring a VGA->HDMI adapter for your situation.
    – ewwhite
    Mar 23, 2017 at 17:04
  • Is there a budget requirement? Mar 27, 2017 at 10:15
  • So, more or less a portable dumb terminal, laptop or better format, with pointing/keyboard right? Mar 27, 2017 at 10:17
  • More or less, yes. Of course a classic dumb terminal would be RS232 or some other serial protocol, but same idea. As it happens (this question was in limbo over at ServerFault for a while) I've more or less settled on a Lilliput 7" HDMI monitor and a separate USB keyboard. Although if anyone does have any radically different suggestions I may still be interested. Mar 28, 2017 at 1:34
  • (Thanks also for the Crash Cart Adapter suggestion. It was a close call, but I've gone for the simpler and cheaper option of an actual monitor. Lingering doubts over whether the client software would work well in Linux, though they do claim support.) Mar 28, 2017 at 1:38

1 Answer 1


AOC makes a range of USB-powered monitors. They incorporate the GPU right into them, and should be backwards-compatible with any machine. Pair this with a powered hub, beefy USB power bank (to power the hub), and dongled keyboard / mouse, and you'll have an amazingly versatile and portable setup. Use a few pieces of adhesive velcro to fasten the hub to the battery bank.

Monitor: https://www.amazon.com/AOC-e1759Fwu-1600x900-Brightness-3-0-Powered/dp/B00LPC3U8Q/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1490651024&sr=8-2

USB hub: https://www.amazon.com/Anker-4-Port-Adapter-Charger-Included/dp/B0192LPK5M/ref=sr_1_2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1490651137&sr=1-2

Battery bank: https://www.amazon.com/Anker-PowerCore-Ultra-Compact-High-speed-Technology/dp/B0194WDVHI/ref=sr_1_2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1490651174&sr=1-2

Keyboard/mouse: https://www.amazon.com/Dell-KM117-Wireless-Keyboard-Mouse/dp/B01LOORNLY/ref=sr_1_9?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1490651230&sr=1-9

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    Thanks, but I wouldn't be confident that an arbitrary industrial PC would know what to do with a USB monitor at the BIOS level. Once there's an OS installed, I'd be logging in via ssh anyway. Mar 28, 2017 at 1:33
  • In that case, Lilliput makes portable, battery-powered (or mains powered) HDMI monitors. Fasten one on the inside of a thin Pelican-branded case, with a keyboard on the other side, for an impromptu industrial dumb terminal. Mar 28, 2017 at 13:56

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