We live in a day and age when portability is the name of the game, as “work and travel” has become the new norm. Hence, today’s article is about the best portable monitor, which is an almost must-have item for working professionals looking to make their lives easier while on the go. Who needs such a gadget you asked? After all, we have smartphones, laptops, tablets and all that.
Portable monitors are an excellent choice for engineers, graphic designers, writers, artists and even programmers, to name just a few professions, as they take both portability and high performance to the “next level”, to use gaming parlance. However, portable monitors are more than an expensive whim, as they’re designed to help people do their job more comfortably and more efficiently, and we’re talking about people who generally require big real-estate screens, obviously.
How to Choose the Best Portable Monitor
If you’re trying to boost your productivity, having a second screen i.e. a USB powered portable monitor, would really make all the difference in the world. There are tons of models out there to pick from, so here’s the “how to choose the best portable monitor 101” the short version.
Choosing the best portable monitor is similar to choosing a gaming monitor, and one of the most important “metrics” to look after is the display itself, because that’s where the action is; more precisely, screen resolution. Since we live in the “current year”, look for the highest resolution possible, as in 1080p/Full HD and beyond. It goes without saying that higher res units are a bit more expensive, but it’s not worth compromising resolution and image quality just for saving a few bucks.
And speaking of image quality and resolution, if you’re into heavy gaming while on the go, look out for a G sync monitor (or FreeSync), provided such a beast even exists.
This is an important feature for a portable monitor due to the nature of the job, i.e. you may have to use it for presentations and what not in bright daylight or in very dark environments. You see where this is going, right? Check out if you can easily change the settings, as in dim/brighten the display etc.
Speakers would make for a nice feature for your portable monitor, especially if you’re going to pair it with a portable DVD player. Having both image and sound would really impress your audience during a presentation, doesn’t it?
Size is everything, the bigger the better, and that’s true for almost everything in life, ranging from cars to IQs and portable monitors. Depending on the nature of one’s work, you may have to keep it on the down low, but most portable monitors nowadays are 15.6 inches, which is laptop-size stuff, 17.3 inches wide or more (up to 22’’).
Whatever you do, make sure the respective monitor is compatible with your desktop/laptop or whatever device you’re going to pair it with. Also look at software compatibility, Windows, Linux, iOS or whatever you’re using.
Most of the time, portable monitors are powered via the USB cable; if you’re going to use it while traveling, make sure you’re not getting a “gas guzzler”. More precisely, check out the specs and make sure how much power your monitor consumes, a metric that will give you a hint about how quick it will drain the battery from your laptop, power-bank or even smartphone.
Most portable monitors nowadays come with both USB and HDMI ports, which are more than enough in the vast majority of situations. However, depending on your gear, make sure that the portable monitor you’re looking at has all the “holes” required for operating properly. Who knows, maybe you’ll be using it on an older-gen Thinkpad laptop or PC, and may require an old school VGA port to make the most out of it.
Big is beautiful, but a big monitor can also break your back. Joke aside, if you’re going to carry your portable monitor a lot, go for an “ultra-light variety”, especially if you’re into the “soy latte mochaccino” club, if you catch my drift. Generally speaking, smaller monitors are also lighter and they occupy less space.
With no further ado, let’s take a look at the best portable monitors currently available, and don’t worry, we have picked one for every budget. So, here it comes:
9 Best Portable Monitors
ASUS ZenScreen MB16AC
The Best Portable Monitor for Laptop
The ASUS ZenScreen MB16AC can be best described as an ultra-portable (8.9 x 0.3 x 14.2 inches) 15.6’’ wide full HD 1080p monitor. As you’ve already guessed it from its dimensions, the Asus ZenScreen is very light and ergonomically designed, weighing a mere 1.7 pounds and being just 0.3 inches slim. In regard to portability and ease of use, it doesn’t get much better than that, but besides having a super-model silhouette, what’s under the hood is what counts, right?
To begin with, this unit comes with a USB Type C port, and image quality is quite good for a portable, though brightness is definitely not its forte. There’s also a cover included in the retail package, that doubles as a stand, and that’s a nice touch from Asus. In real life terms, the Asus ZenScreen is not much larger than an iPad Pro, a thing that makes it ideal as a second screen for your laptop and incredibly comfortable to carry around. The single-port design makes it very “thin and sexy”, and Asus also provides a standard USB adapter along with the cover.
- full HD 1080p IPS display
- light and thin
- great software bundle
- works with virtually any laptop
- nice design
- cover included in the retail package
- good viewing angles
- contrast Ratio: 800:1
- automatic screen orientation
- can be powered by your smartphone
- the screen is quite dim
- kind of expensive
- not suited for gaming or multimedia
- glossy display reflects ambient light
- no built-in speakers
HP Business S14
The Best Portable USB Monitor from HP
Next in line we have the HP Business S14, which, as its name suggests, is everything about workspace growth. This professional portable monitor is relatively small at 14’’, yet it offers a pretty interesting 16:9 format and 5 ms latency GTG at full HD 1080p, which amazingly enough makes it pretty good for gaming. However, considering its small form factor and tiny screen, it’s obvious that the S14 was created to serve as a dual monitor setup, with an emphasis on Starbucks people.
Joking aside, this baby is powered by a state-of-the-art USB Type-C, which allows both power and video signal to pass through at the same time. Just like the Asus before, this portable monitor comes with a cover included in the retail package; provided you have a PhD in architecture, you can transform into a sturdy stand, which is pretty cool ergonomics-wise. Weighing 2.2 pounds and measuring 12.9 x 8.2 x 0.34 inches, the HP Business S14 is light and small enough to fit almost any type of bag, including a laptop carrier.
The display itself is an IPS unit and delivers pretty good images with great color reproduction and has wide viewing angles; for professional types it’s important to mention that the S14 has a matte/anti-glare finish, which is excellent for outdoor use. Bottom line, if you’re a Starbucks creature, the HP Business S14 is going to be your best friend, whether you’re sending emails or watching World Series in style.
- single USB Type C port for better ergonomics
- excellent for productivity use
- gaming friendly due to 5 ms latency GTG
- the USB Type C cord included is 5ft 10in long!
- sturdy stand
- slick and elegant design
- anti-glare coating
- easy to use and to install
- great as a second monitor
- not the brightest screen in the world
Best Bang for the Buck
AOC’s I1659FWUX portable monitor plays in the “best bang for the buck” category, making for a 15.6’’ IPS full HD 1080p device featuring a built-in stand and VESA-mounting compatibility. As usual, the AOC I1659FWUX comes with a USB Type-C port only, which delivers both power and video signal, and, the cherry on top, the built-in stand is cleverly designed, so it works in both landscape and portrait mode.
But let’s talk a little shop: unlike previous models that lack in terms of brightness, a common “feature” when it comes to portable monitors (it’s related to power-saving), the AOC really “shines” in this regard, as it boasts 220cd/M² of brightness, which is significantly more compared to its direct competitors. And another cool thing is that the AOC will cost you less than an Asus or a HP, which means you’re double-winning at life with this baby. To make a long story short, if you’re looking for one of the best 15.6’’ portable monitors, this AOC should make it on your short list.
- bright IPS panel
- excels at color accuracy/reproduction
- wide viewing angles
- dark blacks
- excellent overall performance
- light (2 pounds) and thin (1.5’’ thick)
- well designed
- amazing value for money
- USB Type C
- comes with travel-case
- gaming is not its forte
Lepow Z1 Gamut
An Easy to Use Classy Portable Monitor
Lepow Z1 Gamut is a well-built and practical portable monitor that thanks to its lightweight (it weighs only 800 grams) and slim design makes a perfect choice for every user, including gamers, searching for a good quality second monitor.
This monitor comes with the Full HD IPS screen, with 320 nit brightness, 60Hz refresh rate and 178° angles, as well as two built-in speakers and decent connectivity that incorporate one USB Type-C connection, mini HDMI port, and traditional 3.5 audio jack. Above all, this monitor has a solid performance, delivering bright and vibrant colors and great compatibility that allows its use with PCs, Phones, and the whole bunch of consoles such as PS3 and PS4, Xbox One, Wii, Switch and so on.
Unfortunately, its color accuracy and overall calibration are on a steep slope and offer rather mediocre results; therefore, if you are, for instance, a content creator, be prepared for HDR eye-catching colors, but a lot of color inconsistency.
Lepow Z1 Gamut monitor can be used in both landscape and portrait mode and comes along with the Smart cover that presents the PU leather cover that will give much needed additional protection during travels.
In other words, Lepow Z1 Gamut monitor brings quite a lot for its price and altogether presents a great option for gamers and users seeking a good performing second screen; however, except for content creators that should look for something else that would give them a bit more consistency.
- Dual speakers
- Excellent compatibility
- It can be used in both landscape and portrait mode
- Excellent colors
- It requires hardware calibration
ASUS ROG Strix XG17AHP
An Excellence in the Pricey Package
ASUS ROG Strix XG17AHP is a highly practical and easy to use 17” portable monitor that provides excellent image quality and overall great performance suitable for every type of activity, including high-end gaming.
This monitor comes with a Full HD IPS screen and excellent characteristics such as 240Hz refresh rate and 3ms (GTG) response time that are the key reasons for its great performance. Furthermore, there is very good 300 nit brightness, 178° viewing angles and 1,000:1 contrast ratio that are all guarantee for its great usability.
In the case of ASUS ROG Strix XG17AHP, there is no space for compromise. Therefore, it should be no surprise that this monitor comes along with the built-in 2W speakers, but, above all, a built-in 7800mAh battery that should give you around three hours of work, allowing you to use it not only stationary but while you are on go as well, especially considering its weight of only 1060 grams.
When talking about the image quality, this monitor brings nothing less the premium results and delivers rich colors with 100% sRGB color gamut, and, equally important, great color accuracy that makes this monitor suitable not only for gamers but for professionals as well.
ASUS ROG Strix XG17AHP also brings good connectivity that includes two USB Type-C connectors, one micro HDMI port, and a headphone jack.
Also, there is a whole bunch of extra features such as foldable ROG Tripod, ROG Smart Cover and Adaptive-sync that bring the additional value and cement this monitor as one of the best portable monitors available. Of course, if you are willing to accept it’s a bit steep price tag.
- 100% sRGB
- Built-in battery
- 240Hz refresh rate
- Good connectivity
- Foldable tripod
- Easy to use
- Three-year warranty
Planar Helium PCT2235
Jack of All Trades
With the Planar Helium, we’re entering “massive cool territory”, as this portable monitor is pretty huge compared to the ones we’ve reviewed until now, boasting 22’’ in width; on top of that, you get full HD 1080p resolution and take a load of this: touchscreen. And the best thing is that you get all these cool features for under $200. It doesn’t get much better than that, really now.
If we’re talking productivity, the Planar Helium really has it where it counts: massive screen real estate, Projected Capacitive touch technology with 10 simultaneous touch points, multiple video inputs including HDMI, Display Port and VGA, cross-platform (read Windows 7,8 and 10) driverless compatibility, a solid stand included in the retail package and integrated speakers.
- amazing value for money
- king of productivity
- big and bold
- massive screen real estate
- stellar connectivity options
- excellent built-in speakers
- perfect for commercial use
- comes with full set of cables
- built-in power supply
- thin bezel, well built
- tilts from 15° to 70°
- forget about gaming (12 ms latency)
Lenovo ThinkVision M14
A More-than-Solid Portable Monitor
Lenovo ThinkVision M14 is a highly portable and compact monitor that thanks to its lightweight build (0.57kg) and great adjustability presents one of the best portable monitors and a very good second screen option.
With this device, you are getting a 14” Full HD screen, with excellent 300 nit brightness, as well as decent 6ms response time that along with this IPS panels excellent colors and good viewing angles makes nothing else but the fairly solid portable monitor, suitable for the wide range of users.
Lenovo ThinkVision M14 provides very good adjustment possibilities and thanks to its hinge design allows for –5° to 90° angle tilting and comes with a bit limiting, but still, pretty decent 60 Hz refresh rate that should be enough for the majority of users. Unfortunately, this monitor comes with only two USB Type-C ports that are its only connectivity options, which is kinda disappointing. However, they at least support DisplayPort 1.2 Alt Mode, which certainly makes this limited connectivity issue a bit less impactful.
In other words, if you are after the decent portable monitor that will bring the majority of features that the mainstream users need, Lenovo ThinkVision M14 is the device for you.
- Excellent portability
- Protective sleeve
- Good colors
- High-quality panel
- Only USB connectivity
ASUS ZenScreen MB16AMT
A Portable Monitor that will Boost Your Productivity
ASUS ZenScreen MB16AMT is a well-built, good performing portable monitor that brings great versatility and usability for a wide range of users, from professionals to gamers.
With this monitor, you are getting great connectivity that incorporates USB Type-C and Type-A connections, as well as, micro HDMI port. Also, there is the great portability that comes as the result of its lightweight (900 grams) design and eight-millimeter thickness, but more importantly, it’s solid 7800mAh built-in battery that will bring at least a couple of work hours.
ASUS ZenScreen MB16AMT comes with two built-in speakers and an amazing full HD IPS touch-screen, with 240 nit brightness and very accurate and responsive touch function, with 10-point multi-touch ability. Moreover, there is a solid 700:1 contrast ratio and 69.1 percent coverage of the sRGB color space that is resulting in good color reproduction; however, with a bit dull colors.
When talking about compatibility, ASUS ZenScreen MB16AMT works flawlessly with Android, Windows, Linux and Chrome OS, while Apple products show a lot of touch-screen compatibility issues that, among others, unable the touchscreen functionality with the iPhone and limit it in the case of Macs.
In other words, ASUS ZenScreen MB16AMT will give you quite a lot; nevertheless, also comes with a few issues of its own that aren’t the deal-breakers, unless you are an Apple fan. Therefore, if you are after one of the best portable monitors there are and it’s a bit higher price tag isn’t a problem for you, ASUS ZenScreen MB16AMT may come as a good highly versatile portable monitor option for you.
- Built-in 7800mAh battery
- Good compatibility
- Eye Care technology
- Very responsive and accurate touchscreen
- Excellent viewing angles
- Problematic touch support for Mac and non-existent for iOS
Finally, we have the ViewSonic TD2230, a 22’’ wide beast of a portable, with full HD 1080p resolution and a ten point multi-touch (scratch-resistant) display. If you’re looking for a high productivity tool to use in corporate/enterprise/commercial/retail/education environments, the TD2230 would definitely fit the bill, even if this baby doesn’t come cheap.
Feature-wise, you get excellent connectivity via DisplayPort, HDMI, VGA and USB 3.0 inputs, a solid adjustable stand, built-in stereo speakers, good viewing angles due to the IPS panel and a full set of cables included in the retail package. Due to the monitor’s low input lag and excellent color reproduction, you can use it for both multimedia and gaming purposes, which is kind of great for a touchscreen this big.
- excellent performance in gaming/multimedia
- good for editing
- big and beautiful
- 7H scratch resistant touchscreen
- master of productivity
- 3-year warranty
- IPS panel with wide viewing angles
- rich connectivity options including VGA
- frameless design
- Windows only compatibility