If you want to be super-productive, the ideal scenario is connecting two or more screens to your desktop or laptop. You can have a spreadsheet open on one screen, edit a document on another, and chat with work colleagues in Skype or Slack on a third. But then you find yourself stuck in a hotel room with just a laptop and you can’t remember how to function with a single display. In order to ease those travel woes, we list the best portable monitors you can buy right now for work, play, and general use.
The best portable monitors for 2020:
Editor’s note: We’ll be updating this list of the best portable monitors regularly as new ones launch. This update includes the NexiGo PM4K15 4k monitor, and the Acer OM161Q.
USB-A and USB-C
Before we get started, you’ll need to understand the difference between USB-C and USB-A connections in terms of video output. Your PC’s USB-C port may support the DisplayPort protocol, which is an alternative to HDMI. That’s not a guarantee, however, as manufacturers may limit USB-C connectivity to power, data, or a combination of both. Check your PC’s specifications before purchasing a USB-C-based portable monitor.
If your USB-C port does support the DisplayPort protocol, then you can simply plug a portable monitor into your PC without installing additional software. That’s not the case for USB-A connections, as they do not support video output. To connect your display via USB-A, you’ll need DisplayLink drivers installed on your PC. Moreover, if your USB-C port supports data but not DisplayPort, you’ll still need the DisplayLink drivers.
You can grab the latest drivers here:
Many portable monitors listed below rely on a single USB-A or USB-C connection. You’ll also find standard DisplayPort and HDMI connections on several units along with their Micro and Mini variants. You’ll even see units requiring a separate power supply while others draw power straight from the parent PC.
TN and IPS
One display on our list relies on a TN panel while all others feature an IPS display. Short for Twisted Nematic, TN technology is the oldest of the two, serving as the first LCD panel type replacing CRT monitors. The benefits are short response times, high brightness levels, and super-high refresh rates, making TN panels ideal for gaming. However, they don’t provide wide viewing angles or support large color palates.
IPS, short for In-Plane Switching, serves as the successor to TN technology. IPS panels are ideal for color-accurate content creation and general use due to their support for over 16 million colors and wide viewing angles. Refresh rates and response times have improved over the years, but gamers may be better off using TN displays if color depth isn’t a requirement.
The best portable monitors
1. ViewSonic TD2230
Our first portable monitor is the only unit with touch input. It’s also the largest with a 22-inch diagonal viewing area, making it quite not-so-portable compared to the others on our list. But if you’re participating in a tradeshow and need a highly interactive display, ViewSonic’s TD2230 should be a great, inexpensive solution.
Thanks to its size, this portable ViewSonic panel provides plenty of connectivity: HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA, two USB-A (5Gbps), a 3.5mm audio output jack, a 3.5mm audio input jack, and a dedicated USB-B port (5Gbps) that connects to your PC. This monitor requires a power adapter (included), thus it can’t run on USB connectivity alone.
On the hardware side, ViewSonic’s display sports an IPS panel with a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution at 60Hz. It has a maximum brightness of 250 nits, 178-degree viewing angles, a 1,000:1 contrast ratio, a 14ms response time, and a pair of integrated three-watt speakers. It includes a built-in kickstand but supports VESA mounting.
This portable display weighs 7.9 pounds and measures 5.1 inches thick.
2. NexiGo PM4K15
The NexiGo PM4K15-AM02 is a brand new 15.6-inch monitor in May, 2020. It does not even have reviews on the Amazon listing while we write this. It launches to nearly the top of our list for a few great reasons, first, it is a 4K monitor, second, it has speakers, and third, it offers flexible power and connectivity options.
You may connect via HDMI or USB Type-C, and there is a pass-through USB PD port so that you can power the monitor externally, if your device cannot provide enough juice. The 4K panel is the expected 3840 x 2160 resolution, and it pumps out 300cd/m² at 100% SRGB.
There are two on-board speakers, as well as a headphone jack. The included smart cover can be used as a stand, or you can take advantage of the VESA mount for a more permanent installation.
3. Asus ZenScreen GO MB16AP
This 15.6-inch display packs a larger feature set than its AOC rival. For starters, it includes an integrated 7,800mAh battery promising up to four hours on a single charge. It also ships with a foldable “smart case” that protects the screen and serves as a prop in landscape and portrait modes. Don’t want the cover? You can still prop the display using the included ZenScreen pen that slides into a hole located in the screen’s bottom right corner (landscape).
The Asus ZenScreen GO relies on an IPS panel with a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution at 60Hz. It has a maximum brightness of 220 nits, an 800:1 contrast ratio, and Asus “Eye Care” technology consisting of a blue light filter, flicker reduction, and nine video preset modes. There’s even a built-in timer and crosshair for gamers.
Finally, the Asus ZenScreen GO relies on a single USB-C connection. The package includes a power adapter, a USB-C cable supporting DisplayPort, and a USB-C to USB-A adapter. It measures 3.14 thick and weighs 1.87 pounds.
4. HP EliteDisplay S14
HP’s portable display relies on a 14-inch IPS panel with a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution at 60Hz. It doesn’t pack a huge list of features like the larger Asus unit, but you’ll find notable tidbits like on-screen controls, a low blue light mode, and USB-C connectivity that pulls both data and power from the parent PC or tablet. The wraparound easel cover serves as a built-in prop in landscape mode only.
This portable display has a maximum brightness of 200 nits, 178-degree viewing angles, a 700:1 contrast ratio, and a 5ms response time. It does not have any additional outputs, integrated speakers, or touch input capability. HP’s Amazon listing targets business though anyone can use this display for gaming and general productivity.
The HP EliteDisplay S14 measures 3.4 inches thick and weighs 2.20 pounds.
5. Elecrow AUS50025E
Don’t let the Raspberry Pi reference fool you: This display works with any device packing an HDMI connector. Measuring 13.3 inches diagonally, it relies on an IPS panel with a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution at 60Hz. What’s notable about this model is that it has the brightest screen on the list at 400 nits (maximum). Console gamers should also love the 5ms response time.
The Elecrow AUS50025E sports 170-degree viewing angles, an 800:1 contrast ratio, and two integrated speakers. Connectivity options consist of two Mini HDMI ports, a Micro USB port, and a 3.5mm audio jack. You can power this display using a USB connection to the parent PC or fall back on the included power adapter.
This portable display measures 0.59 inches thin and weighs 1.41 pounds.
6. Acer PM161Q
Keeping your accessory needs simple, the Acer PM161Q connects via USB Type-C, strangely enough, you’ll then need a micro USB cable to power this monitor. This 1920 x 1080 IPS panel is housed in a thicker frame, including a simple kickstand. It weighs in at 2.14 lbs, and is just 0.79 inches thick.
USB connectivity means that this monitor will connect to your supported smartphone or tablet, not just a laptop, giving a little extra versatility for those that travel light.
The slower 7ms response time, and the lack of viewing angle options with that single point kickstand move this monitor down our list a little, but we still think it’s worth your consideration.
7. Lepow portable monitor
This portable monitor comes in at 15.6 inches and offers Full HD resolution. It features an IPS panel that can be used in both landscape and portrait mode and comes with a smart cover that doubles as a kickstand.
The display works with all sorts of devices including laptops, phones, and gaming consoles. You can hook it up via a USB-C or a Mini HDMI cable. It has a 1,000:1 contrast ratio, a 60Hz refresh rate, and 85-degree viewing angles. It also sports two speakers.
Lepow’s portable display is 0.3-inch thick and weighs 1.76 pounds. A screen protector is included in the box. You can get it from Amazon via the button below.
8. Johnwill JW-101-TC-CNC
The last product on our list is the smallest at 10.1 inches (diagonal), but it has the highest resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 at 60Hz. Backing that resolution is a super-low 2ms response time, making it a great portable display for on-the-go PC and console gamers.
Johnwill’s portable display is based on an IPS panel supporting a maximum brightness of 300 nits. It has 178-degree viewing angles and an 800:1 contrast ratio. On the back, you’ll find a pair of speakers complemented by a 3.5mm audio jack on the display’s left side. It also provides a Mini HDMI port, one USB-C port (5Gbps) for data, one USB-C port for power, and two USB-A (5Gbps) ports.
Finally, this display ships with a metal stand and six cables. It measures 3.7 inches thick and weighs 2.24 pounds.
These are the best portable monitors you can get in our opinion, although there are plenty of other great options to choose from as well. We’ll update this post once new and better ones hit the market.