Stroll through any corporate office and you’re sure to see a lot of PCs running two (or more) monitors. Dual monitors make a lot of sense: They add “screen estate” that lets you see a lot more at once, and because they put more programs in view at the same time, they can increase productivity. If you have dual monitors at work but find yourself working from home or traveling with just a single screen, fear not. Of course, you could always add a full-size desktop monitor to your home office, but it’s easy to inexpensively add a portable monitor to your desktop, laptop, or sometimes, even your phone or table as well. And while it is technically possible to use an iPad as a second monitor (as long as you have a MacBook, that is), it’s hardly the best possible portable monitor experience. You’re better off getting a monitor designed expressly for that purpose.
There are a lot of portable monitors to choose from, and picking the right one can make the difference between choosing a monitor that sort-of works and one that’ll delight you and ramp up your productivity. Read on for our take on the 11 best portable monitors, and scroll to the end for general advice on how to pick a portable display for your needs.
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1. AOC I1659FWUX Portable MonitorPros:
- Good color
- Compact and light
- Rotating stand
- Too slow for gaming
- Only one input
- Does not work with USB 2.0 ports
Size15.6 inches | Resolution 1920 x 1080 pixels | Brightness 220 cd/m2 | Ports USB 3.0 | Dimensions 9.16 x 1.4 x 14.64 inches | Weight 2.6 pounds
The AOC I1659FWUX Portable Monitor is a 15.6 display with as fairly simple design — it doesn’t let any complexity or unneeded features get in the way. The screen, backed with an IPS panel, has an HD resolution (1920 x 1080 pixels) and has no controls anywhere on the frame. It has a single port: one USB 3.0 connection in the back, which provides both the video signal and power (there’s no need to plug in power separately). A USB cable is included. Beware, though, that you’ll need to plug this into a USB 3.0 port on your PC or laptop because it can’t get enough power to operate from USB 2.0.
The display sits on a rotating stand, so you can spin it to the vertical or horizontal orientation depending upon your needs. It comes with a simple protective travel case, handy for taking it on the road and unpacking it at the local coffee shop. It’s also fairly easy to travel with, since it’s just 2.6 pounds and a little less than an inch and a half thick.
Because the display has an IPS panel, the colors are bright and accurate, and the display has a fairly wide viewing angle. It’s also bright enough to use in a variety of lighting conditions. On the other hand, this display won’t be good for gaming — it has a sluggish 25 ms response time, which is perfectly accurate for productivity tasks.
If you’re using this in combination with one or more desktop monitors, you might want to mount those displays on a multi-monitor stand. And want to pair this with headphones? Check out our roundup of the best wireless gaming headsets for the PC.
2. Asus Zenscreen MB16AMT portable monitorPros:
- Integrated battery
- HDMI and USB connectivity
- Touch isn't supported for iOS
- Not friendly for gaming
- Display is a little dark
Size 15.6 inches | Resolution 1920 x 1080 pixels | Ports USB-C, HDMI | Dimensions 19.1 x 12.01 x 2.99 inches | Weight 2.4 pounds
While many portable monitors are content to simply act as a second., fairly “dumb” display for your desktop or laptop, the Asus Zenscreen MB16AMT is a full-featured portable monitor with a slew of features. First and foremost, the 15.6-inch HD display is also a touchscreen, compatible with Windows, Android 6 or higher, Mac, and Chrome OS (but not iPad). It responds to all the usual multi-finger gestures, just like an ordinary touchscreen laptop.
You aren’t limited to your fingers, either: It comes with a simple touch stylus as well (which slips into a slot in the smart cover for storage). The stylus isn’t a smart device; it simply works with physical contact on the screen, much like your finger. The touchscreen mode requires you to connect the monitor using the USB-C connector. Speaking of ports, the monitor has both a micro-HDMI and USB-C connector, and the package includes a USB-C to USB-A adapter.
In addition, the Zenscreen has built-in speakers and the whole monitor can be powered by a 7800 mAh integrated battery, which delivers up to about four hours of operation on a charge, which lets you work without drawing any power from the device you’re connected to. You can control the monitor with a five-way control button, which gives you access to audio controls, display modes, and more.
A foldable smart case serves as both a protective cover for traveling with the monitor and a stand when it’s in use. The stand works in a variety of configurations, and lets the monitor be used vertically or horizontally. A hole for the stylus keeps it at the ready when the display is in use.
Of course, the display itself is worthy of all the accompanying features. The display is backed by a color-accurate IPS panel, and while it’s sufficiently bright to get the job done, it’s far from the brightest display you’ll encounter. Of course, since it’s an IPS panel, don’t expect to game on it; it has a very sluggish pixel response.
3. ASUS MB169B+ Portable MonitorPros:
- Very thin and portable
- Single cable for video and power
- Good IPS-panel color
- No HDMI port
- USB 2.0 connections may be slower and dimmer
- No on-screen controls
Size 15.6 inches | Resolution 1920 x 1080 pixels | Ports USB 3.0 | Dimensions 0.33 x 18.3 x 9.29 inches | Weight 1.76 pounds
Similar to other Asus portable monitors, the ASUS MB169B+ is designed for folks who don’t need USB-C port connectivity. Rather than including a USB-C port and needing to fiddle with a USB-C to USB-A adapter, this portable display simply includes a USB-A port. This single connector delivers both video and power; there’s no mini-HDMI connector on this display, either. Beware, though: Even though this monitor is aimed at users with older laptops lacking modern ports, there are some compromises. If you only have a USB 2.0 port, your display will be slower and potentially not as bright.
Asus emphasized a slim and light design with this MB169+ which means you get a razor-thin monitor, measuring just .33 inches, and quite light as well — under two pounds. But despite the light and thin design, it still has an IPS panel for accurate color reproduction. Of course, the usual caveat applies to this Asus monitor: Its pixel response is a little on the slow side, so it’s not really intended for gaming. But to extend the display for usual productivity tasks, you’ll never see the difference. But the monitor also has an optional blue light filter you can enable to reduce eyestrain, particularly at night.
It comes with a smart cover that doubles as protection while traveling and a stand while in use, and it easily adjusts to both landscape and portrait modes.
4. Duex Pro Portable MonitorPros:
- Convenient slide-out display
- Includes kickstand
- Flips around for presentations
- Requires applying manetic attachment platyes to laptop lid
- Display is a little small
Size 12.5 inches | Resolution 1920 x 1080 pixels | Ports USB-C | Dimensions 12.8 x 8.6 x 0.48 inches | Weight 1.6 pounds
Most portable monitors sit off to the side of your laptop, which is fine, as far as it goes, but there are compromises. You need a desktop big enough for it to sit on, for starters, and it can be difficult to work with screens that are far apart from one another. Mobile Pixels’ Duex Pro takes another approach entirely: Using a clever magnetic attachment system, the monitor becomes a part of the laptop lid, and slides out — either to the left or right — becoming essentially an extension of the main display. It’s hinged, so you can angle it in for better viewing (and some privacy).
The display itself is a little smaller than most, at just 12.5 inches, but is a full HD display with a color-accurate IPS panel. It has just a single port, a USB-C input, so you can’t connect it via HDMI. But it gets its power from the laptop, so you have just a single wire to contend with. The package also contains a USB-A adapter if you need it.
This is a truly inspired solution and works great. It even flips all the way around so you can share your screen with someone on the other side of the laptop. You can mirror or extend the display, which means you can show the same thing to an audience you’re looking at, or you can display a presentation and privately see the notes just for yourself.
While this is similar to the SideTrak slide-out portable monitor, the Duex Pro has a big advantage: It comes with a kickstand, so you can use it on its own, separated from the laptop, in either landscape or portrait mode. There’s a lot to love here, but remember that to install the Duex Pro, you’ll need to affix magnetic plates to your laptop lid. They’re removable, but not everyone is going to be willing to apply them to the laptop.
5. GeChic 1101PPros:
- Second display for cameras
- Comes with tripod mounting kit
- HDMI and VGA inputs
- Small display
- Not easy to work in portrait mode
- Two inches thick
Size 11.6 inches | Resolution 1920 x 1080 pixels | Ports HDMI, VGA, MiniDisplay, USB (for power) | Dimensions 16 x 12 x 2 inches | Weight 1.05 pounds
Most portable monitors are designed primarily with laptops in mind. And while you can certainly use the GeChic 1101P as an extension of your laptop display, it can do double duty as a display for your video or still camera as well. In fact, this is a multi-talented monitor that can also connect to a mobile phone and gaming console (like PS4 or Xbox One) as well.
Part of the GeChic 1101P’s flexibility comes from its array of ports — it supports both HDMI (via a micro-HDMI port) and VGA inputs, and gets power from a standard USB connector. In addition, it comes with a tripod mounting kit that lets you affix the monitor to a tripod or even to the hot shoe atop a camera. So this monitor can do double duty as a second display for your laptop and, if you’re a video or photo professional, see real-time video from your camera in full HD on an 11-inch display.
When it’s not connected to a camera, you can use the integrated display stand to prop up the monitor for laptop use. The stand supports several viewing angles, though you’re limited to landscape mode. Because the monitor is so small, it’s inherently fairly portable, though it is a fairly beefy two inches thick, and it doesn’t come with any sort of carrying case or screen cover for traveling — you’ll need to provide that yourself.
6. GeChic 1503I Portable MonitorPros:
- 10-point multitouch touchscreen
- HDMI and VGA input
- Expandable with rear dock
- No USB video connectivity
- Convoluted controls
Size 15.6 inches | Resolution 1920 x 1080 pixels | Ports HDMI, VGA, USB (power only) | Dimensions 15 x 0.5 x 9.7 inches | Weight 2.4 pounds
The GeChic 1503I Portable Monitor is an interesting device; like many portable monitors, it is built around a 15.6-inch IPS display. But a rarity among portables, it’s a capacitive touchscreen, able to accurately process multi-touch input from as many as ten fingers at once. It’s fully compatible with Windows for touch and gesture interaction.
Unfortunately, the monitor only accepts video from HDMI and VGA sources — the USB-C port is for power only. That means you need to have an available HDMI port to use this display, of course, but it nonetheless compatible with laptops and gaming consoles. The rear of the monitor can also be expanded with an optional rear dock that can turn this into a workhorse for more sophisticated portable applications, like handling video for programming applications and public kiosks. It would also be nice if the monitor had a simple on-screen control for setting features like brightness and contrast. Instead, there is an array of buttons on the side of the monitor, which are a little clumsy to use in practice.
Also included in the box is a simple stand that you can use to angle the display at a variety of angles, both landscape and portrait.
7. G-STORY 15.6 Inch UHD 4K IPS Eye-Care Portable Gaming MonitorPros:
- Great for mobile gaming
- 4K UHD resolution
- HDR and FreeSync
- Among the more expensive options
- No portrait rientation
- Must be plugged into wall power
Size 15.6 inches | Resolution 3840 x 2160 pixels | Ports HDMI x2, USB-C | Dimensions 15.55 x 9.84 x 1.02 inches | Weight 2.5 pounds
One theme that virtually all portable monitors have in common is this: They’re not especially good for gaming. If you want a second display to run Call of Duty: Modern Warfare on a larger display from your 13-inch laptop, most portable monitors aren’t up to the task. But the G-STORY Eye-Care Portable Gaming Monitor is a different beast entirely: It’s a full UHD 4K monitor with a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. Not many portable monitors boast those specs, and that makes this a worthy device for mobile gaming. And since the monitor also features HDR and AMD FreeSync (a feature designed to prevent screen tearing at high frame rates) that puts this display on a similar footing to many full-fledged desktop monitors. The 10ms response time still isn’t stellar, but it’s dramatically faster than many other portable monitors. If you want to play a flight simulator with this system, check out our roundup of PC flight sticks.
Of course, the G-STORY Eye-Care isn’t only for gaming. If it can handle gaming, it’s a solid choice for photo- and video editing, as well as ordinary productivity work — not to mention streaming video like Netflix. The monitor has a built-in speaker, though only mustering one watt of power, it’s not especially loud and you’ll probably want to plug in headphones in the audio port. In fact, the monitor has a pair of audio ports, so two people can plug in headphones simultaneously — another handy gaming feature.
With dual HDMI and a USB-C connector, you can attach this monitor to a PC or laptop, as well as a gaming console or USB-C-equipped mobile device. It comes with a stand, but — and this is a limitation for anyone hoping to use it for more mundane tasks than gaming — it doesn’t rotate to portrait orientation. In addition, unlike most portable monitors, this one can’t draw power from the device you’re connected to (nor does it have an integrated battery) so you’ll have to be near an electrical outlet when you’re using it.
8. G-STORY 17.3 Inch Eye-Care Portable Gaming MonitorPros:
- Large 17-inch display
- Fast TN panel for gaming
- HDR and FreeSync
- Carrying case and adjustable stand
- Despite larger size, resolution is only HD
- Monitor is a little pricey
- Requires wall power
Size 17.3 inches | Resolution 1920 x 1080 pixels | Ports HDMI x2, USB-C | Dimensions 19.8 x 12.3 x 4.2 inches | Weight 3.48 pounds
As portable monitors go, the G-Story 17.3 is simply enormous. Bucking the 15.6-inch average, this 17.3-inch display means your portable monitor is as big as the largest laptop displays, and seemingly on par with desktops. That makes it ideal for anyone who needs a really big surface for spreadsheets and other productivity apps, but the 17-inch screen is also obviously great for movies and gaming.
And this monitor seems to have been made with gaming in mind, since it’s backed with a TN panel, which gives it a super-fast 1ms pixel response and a fast 120Hz refresh rate, just like a solid gaming monitor for the desktop. It also has AMD FreeSync, a feature that eliminates tearing and stuttering video in fast action sequences. That’s why it’s a little disappointing that this large screen is just HD, not 4K UHD like the other G-Story monitor on this list, the G-Story 15.6. On the other hand, it does feature integrated speakers — though you can plug in headphones if you prefer.
Even with the HD resolution, this monitor has a lot going for it. The display is color calibrated and supports HDR color. It also has blue light filtering for less eye strain, especially at night. The monitor has dual HDMI and a USB-C port for connection to laptops, desktops, game consoles, and mobile devices. And the monitor comes with both a carrying case and a picture frame-style stand that can be oriented for portrait or landscape. On the downside, you will need to plug this monitor into a wall outlet — it can’t draw power from the device you’re connecting it to.
9. Lepow 15.6 Inch Computer DisplayPros:
- USB and HDMI ports
- Integrated speakers
- Thin and portable
- Even with HDR, not super colorful
- Weak speakers
- Stand doesn't support portrait mode
Size 15.6 inches | Resolution 1920 x 1080 pixels | Ports USB-C, HDMI | Dimensions 14.5 x 8.8 x 0.34 inches | Weight 1.7 pounds
Lewpaw’s 15.6-inch portable monitor is compatible not just with the usual suspects — Windows and Macs — but also most phones and even PlayStation and Xbox consoles, thanks to including both a USB-C and mini-HDMI port. The box also includes a mini-HDMI to HDMI cable, USB-C cable, and a USB-C to USB-A cable, so you shouldn’t be short a connector no matter what you want to dow ith the display. Depending upon the device you’re connecting this monitor to, you might need to run cables to both the HDMI and USB ports to carry both video and power.
This monitor is backed with an IPS panel, which gives the display accurate colors, and it’s somewhat brighter than some similar displays, so it will be effective in a broader range of lighting conditions. But the colors are a little flat — not unusual among portable displays. There’s an HDR (high dynamic range) mode, but that doesn’t help the color situation a lot.
The good news is that this display is especially portable; it weighs a fairly slight 1.7 pounds, and is a very thin .3-inches thick. It comes with a smart cover which is great for protecting the screen when traveling, but it also serves to prop up the screen at an angle when it’s in use. The cover works best with the screen in landscape orientation; you can sort of prop it up in portrait mode, but it’s a very clumsy affair. You’re better off just leaning the display against something.
Lepaw integrated a pair of one-watt speakers in this monitor, but if you prefer, you can also plug in your own (or connect headphones) via the audio output. There’s also a wheel on the side of the display that lets you navigate the screen’s on-screen controls, which you can use to adjust brightness, contrast, and other display settings.
10. SideTrak Portable MonitorPros:
- Stays affixed to laptop for travel
- Display pulls out from side for more authentic dual monitor expereince
- Flips around to display to others
- Screen is is the small side
- You need to add magnets to the laptop with sticky tape
- Requires installing software
Size 12.5 inches | Resolution 1920 x 1080 pixels | Ports USB-C | Dimensions 12.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches | Weight 1.65 pounds
The SideTrack is not your usual portable monitor. While most monitors come with their own small “picture frame” style stand or some sort of smart cover that doubles as a stand, the SideTrak Portable Monitor works just like the Duex Pro, another portable monitor on this list: It cleverly affixes to the back of your laptop magnetically, and slides out to extend your monitor from the side. It’s a genius solution if you need a second display for your laptop (Windows, Mac, or Chromebook) — it’s not going to work for extending a desktop display. Also, this solution limits you to a standard landscape display, since it won’t rotate to portrait.
Aside from the innovative attachment scheme, this is a fairly standard portable monitor, albeit somewhat smaller than many. It’s a 12.5-inch full HD screen with a color-accurate IPS panel and a slightly dimmer-than-average screen. It has a USB-C connector, and you’ll find an adapter for USB-A in the box. This monitor should work with a range of laptops from about 13 inches to 17 inches, and portability is sort of baked in, since you don’t need a separate carrying case or smart cover — it magnetically affixes to your laptop, and you can carry them around as a single unit.
The SideTrak really capitalizes on its unique design as well. Not only is it a more “authentic” dual monitor experience — the second screen pulls out from the main display, and sort of mimics what it’s like to have side-by-side displays on your desktop, but the display pivots 180 degrees as well. That means you can flip it around to show the screen to other people, turning it into a presentation device. If you mirror the screen, you can see the same thing you’re showing others, or you can display notes on the main screen and a presentation on the other.
11. Newsoul Portable MonitorPros:
- Wealth of ports
- USB-C PD connector
- Full size HDMI
- Not good for gaming
- Display is a little dim
- No on-screen controls to adjust display
Size 15.6 inches | Resolution 1920 x 1080 pixels | Ports USB-C x2, HDMI, DisplayPort | Dimensions 14 x 8.8 x 0.43 inches | Weight 1.99 pounds
Newsoul’s portable monitor is a lot like many others in this class. It’s got a 15.6-inch IPS screen running at 1920 x 1080-pixel HD resolution. But there’s a lot to recommend this particular iteration of the common portable monitor. The Newsoul Portable Monitor has a slew of inputs, for example — you’ll find a full-size HDMI port (most displays use a mini-HDMI, but this is more convenient), mini-DisplayPort, and a USB-C input. There’s also a second USB-C port that’s a Power Delivery connector, able to fast-charge your mobile devices.
The monitor also has built-in dual two-watt speakers with enhanced bass — that’s also somewhat unusual for a portable monitor. And if you prefer, you can plug in headphones.
With all those ports, you can connect this monitor to pretty much anything, and it works with laptops, desktops, game consoles, and mobile devices. It’s not ideal for gaming — the IPS panel is a little sluggish — but it can definitely be used as a display for a Nintendo Switch on the road. And it comes with a smart cover that doubles as a stand in both vertical and horizontal orientations.
How do Portable Monitors Work?
Portable monitors have been around for years, but they haven’t been popular until recently, with production surging by 46 percent in the last year. Why? Mainly, the growth in portable displays can be traced to a single innovation: The USB-C port. This new connector, which is finding its way into many new laptops and mobile devices, as well as the occasional desktop PC, can deliver both data and power at the same time.
Before USB-C, portable monitors certainly existed, though they generally relied on old USB-A ports. Those monitors required a separate power cable, which was clumsy and inconvenient. Now that it can all be done with a single cable, they’re easy to use and a popular purchase.
Don’t have a USB-C connector on the device you want to use a second display with? With the right portable monitor, you can still do it the old-fashioned way, running a video connection and a separate power cable.
Once connected, though, a portable monitor works like any second display. In Windows, for example, you can extend the desktop to the second monitor, giving you space to run additional windows – or mirror the display so both monitors show the same content.
Choosing the Right Portable Monitor
Portable monitors tend to come in a standard size – 15.7 inches – so there isn’t a lot of variety in size to worry about when you are monitor shopping. Even so, there are some monitors which are bigger and smaller. The “slide-out” design used by models like the SideTrak and Duex Pro are necessarily smaller, as are second monitors with tripod mounts intended for photo and video work. And every once in a while you’ll encounter a “premium” portable monitor aimed at gamers or watching streaming video; these can come as large as 17 inches.
More than size, you should also look out for the number and types of connectors or inputs. Many portable monitors only include a USB-C connector, which is great if your laptop has one of those, but if your laptop is older, make sure the monitor at least comes with a USB-C to USB-A adapter. An HDMI port can also come in handy.
The monitor’s stand is also important since you might want to stand it up in landscape and portrait modes. The monitor should have a stand (a “picture frame” style stand is common) which pivots, or the monitor may come with a smart cover that doubles, like an origami swan, as a stand.
Aside from all those aspects that are unique to portable monitors in particular, pay attention to the display quality. Many, if not most, portable monitors come with an IPS panel that’s good for productivity and less awesome for gaming. But these displays also tend to be dimmer and duller than regular monitors, in part because they need to run on less power. The only way to size up a display is by eye, so be prepared to return a unit if it doesn’t meet your needs.
The Best Value in Portable Monitors
Since portable monitors are generally built from the same basic set of components – often an IPS display, one or two inputs, and some sort of stand, price can help you choose. Models like the Newsoul Portable Monitor and Lepow 15.6-inch Computer Display offer all the essential features and clock in with an outstanding price.
That said, there are great reasons to spend a little more money. The “slide-out” design is compelling if you only ever want to use it with a laptop, but the Duex Pro wins that contest by a hair; yes, it’s pricier than the SideTrak, but it has some extra features that add a lot of value, like the ability to take it off the laptop lid and use it like a regular stand-up portable monitor.
Finally, if you have some special display needs, remember that some portable monitors might cost a little more, but are well worth it. The Asus Zenscreen MB16AMT has a touchscreen, for example, and the G-STORY Eye-Care Portable Gaming Monitor packs a 4K display, a rarity in this kind of product.
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