The 10 Best Portable Monitors
This wiki has been updated 22 times since it was first published in February of 2018. Whether you want to hook up your gaming console for a "Call of Duty" session on the road or you want to expand the screen size of your mobile workstation, one of the portable monitors on our list will be able to help. These need little more than a power cord and an HDMI cable to give you a second high-resolution display, and some can do it all over a single USB connection. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
September 15, 2020:
A few of the models included on our previous ranking have been upgraded to offer 4K resolution in lieu of 1080p, which is a nice thing to have if you're going to be right on top of your screen, but viewing from any kind of distance would make that increase in resolution hard to notice. That's why the Lenovo ThinkVision M14 was able to not only make its way into our ranking, but to take one of the top spots, as a whole host of features — from a simplified and dedicated connection base to a Kensington lock slot for added security — elevate it above much of the competition.
A lot of what will inform a given user as to which model is right for them will come from their particular needs, as offerings like the Johnwill Mobile IPS boast 16:9 aspect ratios that are ideal for watching most contemporary films and TV shows, or models like the Lepow Gaming Z1-Silver deliver a protective cover with an integrated stand and a reliable portrait mode that's preferred by coders.
One of the most interesting designs comes in the form of the Mobile Pixels Trio Max, however, which employs a kind of housing that attaches to the back of your laptop screen and holds one or two monitors in place until you need them, at which point you can simply slide them out and plug them in. It's a really convenient design, and the housing mounts with the help of four adhesive magnets, but those magnets suffer from practical limits to their strength that are put in place to keep them from damaging your laptop's native display.
May 07, 2019:
Portable monitors can increase the amount of workspace you have or make it possible to use your high-end console when you're far from home. If you're intent on gaming, check out anything from G-Story. They offer a handful of fantastic monitors ranging from FHD to 4K, with HDR support, AMD FreeSync, and in one case an impressive 120-hertz refresh rate. They're not the cheapest, but they are excellent pieces of equipment, and happen to be among the most reliable. Johnwill also sells a range of excellent displays that are built with attractive metal bodies and, although it's a relatively new company, they appear to make great-quality equipment. Similarly, UPerfect gets high marks from PC as well as Raspberry Pi users as to the consistency and reliability of their portable monitors. GeChic seems to have gotten their act together and released a pretty well-refined model, as well, though it does cost more than similar options. If you're looking for a more well-know brand to buy from, Asus' ZenScreen is a good choice. Though it's not their very newest model, it actually appears to be more reliable than the 2018 model, however we are still waiting on the public release of the model they showcased at CES 2019. If you're interested in a USB capable touchscreen, UPerfect has one that works well, though the MageDok is the most popular and will likely serve you the best.
When making your decision, be certain that the device you'll be using it with supports the proper output protocol. If you're connecting it from an actual HDMI port located on your laptop or your dekstop's video card, and it's going straight into an HDMI port on the monitor, you should be okay. If you're transmitting from a micro USB, type C, or Lightning port, pay special attention to what kind of protocols your phone/tablet/laptop supports, as not all standards are the same: MHL, DisplayPort over USB-C, and USB-C Alt Mode aren't necessarily interchangeable.
What A Portable Monitor Can Do For You
For many of us, adding a portable monitor to that list might not seem obvious at first.
There are a lot of things we expect to have with us pretty much wherever we go. There are the obvious things like a wallet and house keys, but the last couple of decades have added devices like smartphones, smartwatches, and tablets to that list. And with fully operational laptops getting smaller and more powerful every year, it’s not uncommon for most people to be walking around with incredible amounts of computing power at their fingertips.
For many of us, adding a portable monitor to that list might not seem obvious at first. After all, our computers and our phones already have screens, so why would we need another? Well, there are a few instances in which a portable monitor can be a life saver, both in business and for pleasure.
Imagine, for example, that you want to share some data with a client, maybe even a slide show or a video. You could pass your work laptop over to them, which immediately puts them on the defensive (what if they should drop it!). You could also ask them to come sit next to you, but there’s a good chance that that would be met with discomfort, and maybe even suspicion of ulterior motives. Better to hook up a small, portable monitor and pass that over to them. It’s immediately apparent that it’s less expensive than a laptop, and it allows you to maintain a professional distance between the two of you.
Even if you aren’t working with a client, sometimes you just need a little more screen real estate to see the full picture, and everyone from accountants comparing complicated spreadsheets to video editors assembling edits on one screen and using the other as a dedicated playback monitor can benefit from an extra display.
Then, of course, there are the gamers out there who want to be able to take their entire setup on the road with them. With a portable monitor, you can hook up any console you like and enjoy your favorite games no matter where the road takes you, even if the people you’re sharing your hotel room with are more interested in watching Chopped reruns than entering a battle royale with you. This also comes in handy in glamping environments where you might be interested in playing a little Battlefront on a rainy day at the campsite, but the RV’s television isn’t up to the task.
Choosing A Portable Monitor
Knowing what you want to use your portable monitor for will be the most influential factor in your decision making process. There are certain models that are clearly designed for gamers, for example, which will offer certain features and abilities the average office worker simply won’t need. That said, there are particular features to look out for that can help sway your decision one way or another, regardless of your intended use.
That said, there are particular features to look out for that can help sway your decision one way or another, regardless of your intended use.
One of the most important features for you to scrutinize is the monitor’s connectivity. Some models are going to connect via HDMI, and they’re liable to need a power supply to turn on. You’ll often see this level of functionality on both the cheapest and the most expensive monitors, as gamers will want HDMI connections and as running power over USB is a little pricier to engineer.
Those models that rely on USB connections for power will often use that same USB connection to receive a screen image from the laptop into which they’re plugged. This is the best possible option for the roving businessperson, as it allows them to make quick connections to laptops without needing to hunt for an outlet. So quick meetings in coffee shops can be handled much more efficiently.
Resolution and screen size are going to be important for a lot of users, as well. Displaying documents and PowerPoint presentations may not require an 8K display, but a good sized screen will allow you to blow things up a little bigger, so there’s less strain on your eyes while you’re hard at work. And for gamers, this is obviously important, as minor details can make a big difference in your performance. Both gamers and users interested in watching videos (especially sports or action films) would do well to look for a model with the highest refresh rate that they can afford. This will make your action look crisper and ensure that your games don’t suffer any image tearing.
Finally, for the durability of your purchase, you should look for a model that comes with some kind of covering to protect it in transit. Many of these resemble the kinds of cases that are popular with tablets, making them thin and easy-to-use forms of protection, some of which can even be manipulated to act as stands for the monitors they serve.
What To Pair With Your Portable Monitor
With a portable monitor in your corner, there are a lot of useful things you can do, but there are also certain purchases you can make that will ensure you get the most out of it. For starters, if it didn’t come with any kind of protection like we mentioned above, it might be worth looking into a tablet case that could hold it securely. Since most will be intended for tablets and not portable monitors, just look for something with internal measurements that match closely to your monitor's size.
Since most will be intended for tablets and not portable monitors, just look for something with internal measurements that match closely to your monitor's size.
If power is an issue, and you don’t know whether you’ll have reliable access to an outlet when you’re out in the world, you might want to get your hands on a portable AC power supply. These come in a variety of sizes, with large models for RVs and other remote lodging, and pocket-sized offerings for maximum portability.
To help maintain your monitor, it’d be wise to pick up a high-quality bit of microfiber cloth or a set or a camera lens cleaning kit. These can help you keep your screen clean without worrying about scratching it. You can also keep a can of compressed air on hand to blow a burst into its various ports, which can help keep them from accumulating dust and debris they might encounter while in transit.