What are the features that make for the best portable monitor and the leading portable gaming monitor? As their name might suggest, the best portable monitors are incredibly compact, lightweight, and easy to carry around with you. They make it easier for you to use your laptop on the go when you need a larger display for presentation or movie-watching purposes.
Your portable monitor should also offer a high level of user-friendliness, which can come in the form of a touchscreen, adjustable kickstand, and easy setup. The last thing you want while trying to use a portable monitor is a complicated user experience. After all, the best computer monitors often focus on creating a smooth user interface.
Finally, the portable monitor you purchase should give you excellent image quality. Just like the quality you’ll find in our AOC E1649FWU 16 portable USB monitor review. This aspect of your portable monitor is made up of several considerations, including screen resolution, color accuracy, contrast ratio, refresh rate, and response time.
Keep reading to learn more about the best portable monitors, the features you should look for, and how they can improve your laptop user experience.
Top Portable Monitors
#1 Newsoul 15.6 Inch Portable Monitor
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: Featuring excellent connectivity, this compact portable monitor will allow you to work anywhere with an extra panel at your hand with ease. And paired with its standing design, you won’t have to worry about setting it up.
- Easy to use stand with mount support
- Wide connectivity options
- Full HD resolution
- Fragile screen
The 15.6-inch portable monitor from Newsoul is the perfect pick for those who want a quality display that they can carry to work in cafes or at shared workplaces. It features several connectivity options for added compatibility to other devices, including a USB Type C connection, mini HDMI, and an OTG port. This makes it easy to connect with various devices and is perfect for collaborative work outside the office. However, you should note that the screen is fragile, so it’s best to use a screen protector.
Moreover, the display also features a 1920 x 1080p resolution which, along with the IPS panel, gives it excellent picture quality despite the viewing angle as long as it’s within 178 degrees horizontally. Other than that, you’ll be thrilled to know that the included stand/cover for the portable monitor is made out of PU leather, which, along with its built-in 75mm x 75mm VESA support, makes it easy for you to stand it up quickly no matter where you’re working.
#2 Lepow 15.6 Inch Portable Monitor
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: With a slim and lightweight build, this portable monitor makes working outside or playing games during vacation trips a whole lot easier. And with its firm and easy-to-set-up stand, you won’t have to worry about assembling it.
- Decent picture quality
- The smart cover allows you to stand it up with ease
- Lightweight design
- Limited refresh rate
The Lepow 15.6 Inch portable monitor features a 1920 x 1080p resolution which provides you with both a large screen as well as excellent picture quality, which is great for video edits or graphic designs. This, paired with its ability to be used in either landscape or portrait mode, makes it a great fit for those who want to multitask. Although it can easily connect to a range of devices, including gaming consoles, thanks to its USB C and Mini HDMI connectivity options, you won’t be able to enjoy your games to the fullest due to its limited 60Hz refresh rate.
Apart from that, you’ll be enthralled to know the portable monitor comes with two built-in speakers that will allow you to easily play multimedia files without having to use external speakers or audio devices. Additionally, with its slim 0.3 Inch profile and 1.76 pounds weight, you can easily carry it to work out of the office or have a second portable monitor with you during your travels.
#3 AOC I1601FWUX 15.6 Inch Portable Monitor
Award: BEST FOR TRAVEL
WHY WE LIKE IT: This portable monitor comes with an easy connectivity option of a single cable for both power and screen extension, which allows you to have a second portable monitor for multitasking on the go without the hassle of multiple wires.
- Decently large screen
- Great viewing angles
- Features a low blue light mode
- Only USB-C connectivity option
The AOC I1601FWUX has a decently large 15.6 Inch screen, allowing you to have more than enough screen real estate on the go with the added benefit of being able to multitask with two monitors. It also features a Full HD resolution which means you won’t have to worry too much about text clarity or picture quality while working. However, you should note that the device only supports a single USB-C connection which makes it unusable with most older devices but gives you the benefit of fewer cables. The wide viewing angle is a plus to help balance out the limited USB ports.
On the other hand, the portable monitor also comes with a smart cover and an auto pivot feature. This means you can easily set it up on a flat surface without having to carry anything extra while also having the option to use it either horizontally or vertically. Moreover, it also features a low blue light mode that will protect your eyes and make it ideal for working in the dark.
#4 KYY 15.6 Inch Portable Monitor
Award: BEST FOR WATCHING CONTENT
WHY WE LIKE IT: With a compact and lightweight design, this portable monitor is the perfect pick for frequent travelers as it provides a hassle-free way to use a second monitor for multitasking or viewing content.
- Great for watching content
- Compatible with a range of devices
- Sturdy stand
- Unsuitable for gaming
The KYY 15.6 Inch portable monitor has a lightweight profile of only 1.7lbs with a width of 0.3 inches, making it easy to carry in your backpack without taking up too much space. Despite that, it features a Full HD 1080p resolution which, along with the 1000:1 contrast ratio, makes it great for watching content on a large display on the go or even doing light photo editing. However, you should note that even though it’s compatible with gaming consoles, it’s not great for playing games due to its limited 60Hz refresh rate. In that case, you’ll want to check out our roundup of the best gaming monitors for Nintendo Switch, before you decide on this one.
Apart from that, you’ll be thrilled to know that the device also features HDR, which improves the picture quality and supports good connectivity options. This includes 2 USB-C ports and one mini HDMI port, making it easy to use with a range of old or new devices. Furthermore, its cover also functions as a sturdy stand that makes it easy to set up.
#5 ZSCMALLS 15.6 Inch Portable Monitor
Award: BEST FOR CONNECTIVITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: Coming with an original cover that also works as a stand, this portable monitor will allow you to quickly set up a second monitor in the cafe or work outside the office to multitask or collaborate with colleagues.
- Supports thunderbolt 3
- Slim and lightweight build
- Sleek design with the smart cover
- The 1080p resolution doesn’t work with the USB-C cable.
Supporting Thunderbolt 3, the ZSCMALLS portable monitor supports both USB C and mini HDMI. This will allow you to easily connect the display to various devices ranging from Laptops, PCs, phones, and even gaming consoles. It also has built-in speakers, which is excellent for general media content if you don’t have access to external speakers or headsets at the moment. However, note that although it supports a 1080p resolution, it will only work when connected through the HDMI connection.
The portable monitor also comes with a slim profile being only 0.39 inches thick and weighing about 1.42 lbs. This makes it easy to carry with you, whether in a backpack or even a school handbag, thus adding to its portability. You also benefit from its smart cover that simultaneously works as a stand, and it supports three different positions so you can adjust and find the angle that works best for you.
#6 ASUS MB14AC 14 Inch Portable Monitor
Award: BEST FOR EYE COMFORT
WHY WE LIKE IT: With low blue light technologies as well as a flicker-free display, this portable monitor is perfect for those who work for long periods in front of a display.
- Works with tripods
- It can be used with a single connection
- Supports Eye Care technology
- Touchscreen functionality is limited
The ASUS ZenScreen MB14AC comes with a 1080p Full HD resolution that works efficiently through the hybrid signal supported by its USB Type C and USB Type-A ports. This makes it possible to connect the portable monitor without the hassle of numerous wires, as one single cable carries both the power and the video transmission for the display. And although it comes with a touchscreen display, the 14-inch display draws power directly from its internal battery rather than the power source, making the touchscreen capability feature unusable at times. To maintain this portable monitor, there are also certain ways for cleaning a touch screen monitor.
Additionally, the display features the Asus Eye Care screen technology, which helps reduce eye strain making it great for extended periods of use. It also comes with a cover that functions as a stand and is compatible with a tripod hole with a standard 0.25-inch screw thread. This makes it possible for you to set it up quickly, even outside the workplace, and you’ll also be pleased to know that it works in both the horizontal and vertical orientations. Plus, in our list of the top-rated vertical monitors, you’ll find even more displays you can use for work.
Beginner’s Guide to Portable Monitors
What Are Portable Monitors?
A portable monitor is a device used mostly for extended your laptop computer’s display. These external monitors connect directly to your laptop, usually via a USB-C cable or HDMI cable, and then display information from your laptop. External displays are a great method to give yourself some extra screen space versus replacing your current monitor with an ultrawide display.
Portable Monitors vs. Traditional Monitors
While portable monitors offer essentially the same form and functionality as traditional computer monitors, there are some subtle differences to keep in mind.
For starters, portable monitors tend to be of smaller size when compared to desktop monitors. Most people prefer to use portable monitors that are the same size as their laptop monitors, or slightly larger. This means most portable monitors in this category are in the 12-inch to 17-inch size range.
This type of portable monitor also usually offers additional features you don’t see in standard office monitors. Things like adjustable kickstands and touchscreen capabilities are commonplace in the portable monitor category.
Finally, most portable monitors also draw their power directly from your laptop via USB-C connectivity, instead of from a wall outlet.
How Portable Monitors Work
Once plugged into your laptop, your portable monitor can act either as an extension of your laptop’s display or as a mirror to your laptop’s display. If you’re using your portable monitor as an extended display, then you’ll essentially have a dual-monitor setup. If you’re using it as a mirror, then it will display the same thing as your laptop.
A portable monitor usually uses LCD (liquid crystal display) technology with an IPS panel. LCDs are made of two panes of glass with a material known as liquid crystal in between them. The liquid crystals are active when lit to reproduce vibrant colors and images.
The best portable monitors use an IPS panel inside the LCD, which creates better color accuracy, wide viewing angles, and a high contrast ratio for excellent image quality.
Do You Really Need a Portable Monitor?
Portable monitors work best for people who need portability, as you might expect. They are made specifically for use away from your desk. If this kind of portability is something you require, then you absolutely can’t go wrong with a portable monitor.
Is a Portable Monitor Worth Buying?
- You Mainly Use a Laptop: If you mostly use a laptop for all of your computing needs, then a portable laptop display can be a huge boon to your overall productivity and efficiency. While laptops can work with standard office monitors, you’ll get more versatility when you use them with portable monitors.
- You Travel for Work: If you travel for work and regularly need to give presentations or collaborate with others, then a portable monitor is an invaluable addition to your laptop. Compact monitors give you more screen real estate to work on when you don’t have a desk since they can operate as an extra screen/external monitor. Be sure to invest in a monitor with a headphone jack or audio jack if you’re taking this into public areas around other people.
- You Want to Play Video Games on the Go: Gamers can benefit greatly from these portable monitors as well. A portable gaming monitor gives you the ultimate form of versatility with your gaming laptop versus being stationary with a bulky standard monitor and gaming console.
- You Don’t Have a Lot of Desk Space: If you’re working with minimal desk space, then a portable display can help you out a lot. The fact that these are smaller than traditional office monitors combined with their ability to be stored easily makes them ideal for use in compact spaces.
Why a Portable Monitor May Not Be For You
- You Mainly Use a Desktop Computer: If your main computer is a desktop computer, then a portable monitor likely isn’t the best option for you. Portable monitors often make sacrifices in overall performance and image quality to achieve a higher level of portability. The built-in battery can be a limitation for doing certain tasks for long hours. If you don’t need or want the portability, you will always be better off purchasing a stationary computer monitor since battery life won’t become an issue.
- You’re a Competitive Gamer: If you’re into competitive gaming, then you know the value of having a dedicated monitor packed to the brim with gaming-specific features and performance. Portable monitors don’t offer these same features most of the time. So, while they’re a perfect choice for casual gamers on the go, the same is not true for competitive gamers and for those who use larger game consoles for their gaming.
How Long Will a Portable Monitor Last?
Portable monitors use the same display technology as other computer monitors. As such, you can expect them to offer the same lifespan as standard LCD monitors. Most portable monitors are simple LCDs, meaning they’ll last around 30,000 to 60,000 hours of use, according to TechiExpert.
While the display technology in your portable monitor should last around the same time as quoted above, it’s important to note that these portable monitors are more prone to accidental damage. This is because you carry a portable monitor around with you more often than you would a standard computer monitor.
The same goes for connectivity ports. You will likely connect and disconnect display cables on your portable monitor on a more regular basis, which may cause them to wear out faster.
How to Choose the Best Portable Monitor
Making the right decision when it comes to choosing the best portable monitor doesn’t have to be difficult, but it can certainly be intimidating, especially if you’ve never purchased one before. When you take some time to figure out exactly what you need before actually hitting the purchase button, you’ll be better equipped to make the right decision.
Portable Monitor Key Factors to Consider
Your answers to the following questions can help you decide what model of portable monitor you should purchase. Read through the questions carefully and take note of your answers so you can use them during your research.
1. What screen size do you want your portable monitor to have?
The screen size you purchase for your portable monitor really depends on your own personal preference. There is a wide range of screen sizes for portable monitors, ranging anywhere from 3.5 inches to 22 inches.
However, most people who use portable monitors purchase a size that matches their laptop’s screen size. As such, the most common sizes range anywhere from 11 inches to 15.6 inches. An 11-inch display is more compact and portable, whereas a larger screen of 15.6-inches gives you a good amount of screen real estate to work with.
When considering different screen sizes for your portable display, take into account how portable you need it to be and the kind of work you’ll be doing on the portable monitor. If you don’t mind carrying a larger display around with you, then a bigger display size is preferable for a good portable monitor option. You can also check out some of the best touch screen monitors if you would love a touch screen monitor.
2. What kind of picture quality do you need in your portable monitor?
A portable and compact monitor may not offer the most advanced display technology and features, but it should still give you excellent image quality.
- Resolution: The first aspect of excellent image quality that you need to consider is screen resolution. The best portable monitors offer HD resolutions like 1920×1080. These are also known as full HD. Some portable monitors offer lower or higher native resolution, but we recommend sticking with full HD.
- Color accuracy: Your portable monitor’s color performance is another important piece of the excellent image quality puzzle. To produce vivid colors, your monitor should have a wide color gamut, which means it covers a broader spectrum of colors.
- Brightness: The level of peak brightness (which you can measure with nits of brightness) your portable monitor offers can help you determine how versatile it is. Monitors with a wider range of brightness levels can have a bright screen that can be used in more environments and situations.
- Panel type: The panel type refers to the panes of glass used in an LCD monitor. An IPS display offers bright colors, wide viewing angles, and a long life, which is why we recommend IPS over VA.
- Refresh rate: Your portable monitor’s refresh rate defines how often it populates a new image on the screen each second. This feature is measured in Hz, and the higher the number, the better the display. Most portable monitors offer a 60Hz refresh rate.
- Response time: Your portable monitor’s response time defines how fast it switches between different colors. This is measured in milliseconds (ms) and is often confused with input lag. Lower numbers are better.
- Input lag: Your portable monitor’s input lag defines how fast it takes for your portable monitor to display the actions you’re taking with your keyboard and mouse. This is an important feature for gamers, who need to have a near-immediate response when pressing a button. If you’re a gamer, look for a 3ms response time or lower.
3. What kind of connectivity do you need on your portable monitor?
The best portable monitor offers a USB-C port as its main point of connectivity to your laptop. This is because a USB-C port can deliver data, video, and power across a single USB-C cable.
There are portable displays that provide different kinds of connectivity, but they are usually older models that don’t perform as well. We always recommend choosing a display with a USB-C port.
4. What additional functionality do you want on your portable monitor?
There is a wide variety of additional features and functionalities to consider for portable displays. One of the main ones is touchscreen capabilities. Portable touchscreen monitors are excellent for artists and tactile workers. They can be used with your finger or a stylus.
Another feature to consider is if your portable monitor supports portrait or landscape modes. Monitors with a portrait mode or a landscape mode allow you to switch between different orientations. Many portable displays also offer kickstands which allow for different viewing angles and orientations.
Finally, you may want to consider a portable monitor with built-in speakers. Unfortunately, the monitors with speakers don’t typically offer clean audio, but they will work in a pinch versus investing in expensive stereo speakers. You can check some of the best monitors speakers in the market if you would not like much hassle like buying external speakers.
5. What kind of added protection do you want for your portable monitor?
Since you’ll be carrying a portable monitor around with you, it’s important to consider what kind of protection it offers built-in. Some portable monitors include a screen protector, while others come with carrying bags and cases.
There is also a good market for third-party protective add-ons. We always recommend purchasing a portable monitor with built-in protection or getting third-party add-ons.