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:
10 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
One of the Best Portable Monitors Out There
If you’re looking for a portable and relatively cheap 15.6’’ FHD 1080p multi-touch monitor, check out the improbably named EleDuino T156C. For a little bit more than a couple of hundred dollars, you’ll get a nicely designed portable monitor with a narrow bezel and USB 3.1 video inputs for your laptop, as well as decent built-in speakers and HDR. The EleDuino also features cross-platform compatibility, as it works equally well on Windows, Raspberry Pi, PS4 and Xbox, but not so great on Android, so be advised.
If you want to achieve the functionality/productivity of a dedicated laptop just by using your high-end smartphone paired with a portable monitor like the EleDuino T156C, which is way more affordable (and higher quality display wise) than the cheapest laptop, well, this is the way to go. Even if the monitor doesn’t feature a built-in rechargeable battery, you can give it juice via an external power bank. Also, if you can connect it to a PC, the EleDuino makes for a true native 2560×1600 resolution, with a high-quality IPS TFT Panel with 16.7M and 72% color accuracy, and, most importantly, it’s amazingly affordable for what it offers.
- features dual mini HDMI inputs for 2 devices connected simultaneously
- supports camcorders and cameras
- comes with mini HDMI to HDMI and USB power cable included
- nice and thin bezel, light and portable, awesome picture quality
- decent for gaming, excellent for photography and filming
- lacks VESA mount
- feels flimsy, handle with care
- there’s no tripod screw-hole support
The Best Portable Monitor for MacBook Pro
The GeChic 1503H is yet another 15.6’’ full HD 1080p portable monitor manufactured by a rather unknown Chinese company , but don’t let the lack of popularity fool you. To begin with, the GeChic 1503H is by no means cheap, and it will give you a nice ride for your hard-earned bucks: a high-quality IPS panel, VGA and HDMI input, rear docking and built-in speakers.
It’s also worth mentioning that the GeChic 1503H comes with supermodel features, i.e. it weighs 798g and has 1.1cm in thickness. If you’re looking for a high-performance portable monitor, with a sleek design and rich connectivity, look no further, you’ve just found your best buddy.
- image quality is above average
- very bright for a portable at 300(cd/m2)
- superb viewing angles
- 5-star connectivity
- lots of features
- easy to set up
- comes with 2 x USB-A to 1 x USB-C power cable, 1 x HDMI to mini-HDMI cable
- has 2 mini HDMI inputs
- the stand is adjustable
- versatile and well built
- built-in speakers
- kind of expensive for what it is
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)
G-STORY 15.6 Inch UHD 4K Portable Gaming Monitor
The Best Portable Gaming Monitor
If you’re looking for a high-end portable gaming monitor, this G-STORY may very well fit the bill, because 4,000 (4K) reasons. Yes, you got that right, there are portable monitors boasting UHD 4K resolution, so, if that’s your deal-breaking cup of tea, just go for it.
Obviously, you’ll have to pay a little bit extra for the ultra-sharp 15,6’’ 4K panel, but if you’re looking to squeeze the last drop of “eye candy” from your gaming gear, this baby comes with 2160P(3840X2160) native resolution, and that’s awesome. Needless to say, the G-STORY 4K is specifically built for avid gamers, hence it will not disappoint in FTS/FPS games, as it comes with FreeSync technology which obliterates image tearing/stuttering for delivering the ultimate gaming experience.
- UHD 4K
- excellent image quality
- FreeSync technology
- designed for gaming
- low input lag
- supports 4K HDR gaming
- comes with built-in stereo speakers
- EyeCare technology reduces eye fatigue
- comes with 2x 3.5 mm audio jacks, 2x HDMI ports
- impeccable workmanship
- you get a complementary remote control
- amazing frame rates
- fully compatible with Xbox and PS4
- kind of pricey
Elecrow 13.3 Inch IPS Raspberry Pi Display
Small is the New Big
Next in line, we have a tiny, affordable and solidly built 13.3’’ IPS full HD 1080p portable monitor. As its name suggests, the Elecrow Raspberry Pi was specifically built for Raspberry Pi users, and it works great with all models (3, 2 1 Model B B+) as well as PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, WiiU and Xbox360, medical equipment, car headrest and car audio-video stuff.
Basically, this highly portable monitor is the jack of all trades, and due to its aluminum frame is very durable and resistant to wear and tear, a feature that makes it ideal for high-stress environments. Be advised, you’ll have to adjust color settings out of the box.
- high-definition display with wide viewing angles
- very bright at 400cd / m²
- 5 ms latency
- light and thin
- rugged and reliable
- IPS panel
- built-in speakers
- cross-platform compatibility
- good value for money
- dual HDMI mini ports
- highly portable
- VESA mount compatible
- USB powered
- works great for console gaming
- none really at this price
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
Lepow 15.6 Inch Portable Monitor
Budget-Friendly Portable Monitor
Next in line, we have a very affordable 15.6-inch portable monitor from Lepow, which is built and designed to work flawlessly with your smartphone. Basically, smartphones are slowly replacing laptops productivity-wise, but since there’s no replacement for displacement, one would require more screen real estate for both work and fun. Here the Lepow kicks in, and truth be told, this portable monitor really looks like a laptop, so if you own a Huawei, Samsung or Honor smartphone, you can turn it into a real one.
The Lepow comes with USB-C connectivity (2 ports), full HD 1080p resolution, built-in stereo speakers, a mini HDMI port and even a headphone jack. Given the price tag, don’ expect a built-in battery or touch capability; what you see is what you get: a high quality no-nonsense portable monitor that gets the job done. The retail box contains a USB-C to USB-C cable, a mini-HDMI to HDMI and a USB-C to USB-A cable; everything else is a child’s play, i.e. a plug-and-play job. All you have to do is to connect the monitor to your smartphone and that’s it. The Lepow also works flawlessly with MacBooks via USB-C, and comes with a magnetic flip cover pre-attached, which can be used as a stand of sorts.
- cool design, full HD resolution
- impressive build quality for the price (3 year warranty)
- dual speakers, multiple input types
- bright display excellent for outdoors use (300 cd/m)
- amazing value for money
- doesn’t save settings (volume, brightness) between sessions